March 27, 2019 6 min read

Milk is one of the things that a lot of people enjoy drinking and adding to their food and beverages. However, a lot of people are unaware that they have lactose intolerance or a sensitivity to lactose and they suffer for it. The need for dairy milk alternatives is on the rise; thankfully, there are a host of options that are just as delicious and may even prove to be healthier.

Lactose Intolerance vs Milk Allergy

Lactose intolerance is the body’s inability to produce lactase which is the enzyme created by the small intestine to breakdown the natural sugar commonly found in dairy products that’s called lactose. Lactose intolerance can have a variety of symptoms ranging from bloating to diarrhea, all of these making it painful and uncomfortable. There are manycauses for lactose intolerance to happen. It may be due to genetics or it may be a symptom of other underlying health issues.

On the other hand, milk allergy is an allergy towards the proteins found in milk which can trigger a variety of allergic reactions such as hives, difficulty in breathing, and swelling of the mouth or lips. This is more common in children and a lot of them outgrow the allergy towards milk as they grow old as well. As with any food allergy, it is better to err on the side of caution to prevent more critical allergic reactions, such as anaphylactic shock, from happening.

As delicious and creamy as it is, dairy milk isn't made for everyone

Studies show that about 65% of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose; anotherstudy shows that about 3% of children below the age of 3 suffer from milk allergy. Because of the high numbers related to lactose intolerance and milk allergy, it is imperative for dairy milk substitutes to be available as a healthier and better alternative to this beverage that is widely used by a lot of people.

Dairy Milk Alternatives

Because there is a need for the existence of dairy milk substitutes, the growing availability of these dairy milk alternatives is a welcome change for those suffering from lactose intolerance and milk allergy.

Coconut Milk- the milk derived from coconuts is one of the creamiest milk substitutes that you can enjoy that can be used in your beverages and in food recipes.It is a good source of Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, and potassium. It has no carbohydrates so it’s a good option for those looking to reduce their carbohydrate intake. It is also a great option for those who would like a gluten-free dairy milk alternative but it may not be the best for those who would like to get some of their protein needs from milk as it only contains a gram of protein per cup.

Coconut milk is creamy, delectable, and nutritious.

Milk made from rice grains is naturally sweet and hypoallergenic

Probably one of the most popular dairy milk alternatives, almond milk has a nutty and slighty sweet flavor

Rice Milk - this dairy milk alternative is made from water and milled white or brown rice. It is naturally sweet and it is also the most hypoallergenic dairy milk alternative making it a great choice for those suffering from gluten intolerance and would like to have agluten-free alternative or to those who suffer from nut allergies. Rice milk goes well with smoothie and dessert recipes and it can also be enjoyed on its own. The down side of rice milk is that it contains high levels of carbohydrates and it is also high in calories so it may not be the best option for those who are looking to cut down on their caloric intake or to those whose diet already consists a lot of carbs. It is, however, a great option for those who may need a neutral-flavored milk alternative especially if it comes fortified with calcium and other vitamins.

Almond Milk- almond milk is derived from whole almonds and water, and it is a slightly sweet and light-textured milk. The nutty flavor that goes with the milk makes it a great alternative for dairy creamer or milk for beverages such as tea and coffee. It has about a third of the calories found in dairy milk and it can also provide about 50% of your daily required value of Vitamin E. However, almond milk is not known for having protein, minerals, and fatty acids because it is made up mostly of water so going for vitamin-fortified almond milk may be the best option for you if this will be your milk of choice.

Soy Milk- soy milk is one of the most popular dairy milk alternatives because its nutritional content is the one most similar to cow’s milk. It has about 8-10 grams of protein per cup which is close to the amount you can find in cow’s milk. It also contains half the calories and fat that you would normally get from a cup of cow’s milk. Soy milk is also commonly fortified with calcium, riboflavin, and a variety of vitamins and it is commonly available in a variety of flavors such as unsweetened, chocolate, and vanilla. However, it is not recommended for those who suffer from FODMAP intolerance or for those who have soy allergies.

Hemp Milk- this milk is created using the hulled seeds of the hemp plant,cannabis sativa, which is of the same family as marijuana. However, it only contains trace amounts of the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is responsible for the mind-altering properties of marijuana making their relation moot in discussing the pros and cons of hemp milk. This dairy milk alternative is another great option for those with gluten and nut sensitivities, and it is usually used as an alternative for skim milk because of its light texture and its mildly sweet and nutty flavor. Hemp also contains the same amount of fat as cow’s milk but with half of the calories. It is also a good source of protein and essential amino acids, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The flavor of hemp milk may take some getting used to but its overall nutritional content is not something that can be easily ignored especially since omega 3 and omega 6 cannot be made by our bodies and can only be had through food.

Soy milk is often fortified with calcium and other vitamins

Milk derived from hemp seeds are a good replacement for skim milk and is definitely a more nutritious alternative

Oat milk is the easiest to milk to make at home

Oat Milk- this dairy milk alternative is made with the mixture of oats and water and it may be the easiest to do in the comfort of your own home. However, commercial oat milk may be a better option as most of them come fortified with extra vitamins and minerals to go with the incredibly high levels of total fiber and beta-glucan that can be derived from oat milk. It does have higher levels of carbohydrates compared to cow’s milk but it has about half of its fat content. It is also a great alternative for those who have gluten-intolerance and vegans who are looking for a healthy and easy-to-access dairy milk alternative.

Enjoying Your OPTIONS

As more and more people become more aware of lactose intolerance and with those who would like to be more proactive in finding solutions for their milk allergies, the growing availability of milk alternatives is a wonderful thing. With the number of alternatives available which can be mixed and matched to suit your preference and needs, the wariness that comes with lactose intolerance and milk allergies is starting to become a thing of the past.

It is possible to satisfy your milk cravings with the wide variety of non-dairy milk alternatives that are now available

Knowing that you have healthier options is always a great thing but knowing that these options are also just as delicious as your regular cow’s milk makes having these options even more enjoyable. Having these options makes the creating a healthier version of the food that you would normally enjoy with dairy milk even more exciting and satisfying because you know that your body and your taste buds are enjoying every single delicious bite of your food.