Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Milk Replacers, Additives, and The Importance of Water

I had a question on my last post from a reader, Starile, about processing and bad chemicals in commercial milk replacers such as soy, rice and almond milks. My answer is a little too long to place in the comment section, so I'll answer it here. I personally do not use milk replacers at all, and I'll share why.

Commercial soy milk is processed using hexane, a known neurotoxin. Unfermented soy such as soy milk also contains phytates and trypsin inhibitors which block the absorption of minerals and nutrients. A number of studies have also shown that unfermented soy may inhibit thyroid function.

Commercial rice milk was found to have excessively high levels of arsenic back in 2008. This was due to the chemicals used in growing the rice. I could not find any information that leads me to believe the situation has changed. The UK Food Standards Agency recommends that young children between the ages of 1 and 4.5 years old not drink any rice milk as a result.

Commercial brands of milk replacers generally contain lots of unhealthy additives. Most contain carageenan, which can cause severe gastric distress and is a tumor promoter, soy lecithin (you know how I feel about gmo, unfermented and chemically processed soy), and natural flavors.

Natural flavors are anything but natural. They are used by companies to trick consumers into thinking they are buying a healthy product, which they then charge more for. The difference between natural and artificial flavors is that at some point way back in time, the natural flavor was derived from an actual food. And the artificial flavor was not.

Here is the FDA definition of a natural flavor-
The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional. Natural flavors include the natural essence or extractives obtained  listed in 182.10, 182.20, 182.40, and 182.50 and part 184 of this chapter, and the substances listed in 172.510 of this chapter.

Lest you think that the natural flavor in a product containing natural strawberry flavoring contains actual dried or ground strawberries, the FDA goes on to say-
Substances obtained by cutting, grinding, drying, pulping, or similar processing of tissues derived from fruit, vegetable, meat, fish, or poultry, e.g., powdered or granulated onions, garlic powder, and celery powder, are commonly understood by consumers to be food rather than flavor and shall be declared by their common or usual name.

 Once a chemical is extracted from a food, its properties can be copied, and off we go. Natural and artificial flavors are made in a lab by a chemical  "flavorist". Natural flavors are not any safer or healthier than artificial flavors. Natural flavors can contain msg, and can be plant or animal based, so one cannot assume they are vegan, regardless of the product they are found in. There really is nothing natural about them.

Home made nut or seed milks, oat milk, and rice milk can be a much healthier option. It is easy to make and less costly than store bought too. There are tons of recipes if you google it. Since I don't use these, I have no recipe to recommend.

I often drink green and herbal teas, but my drink of choice is water. Water is the most vital component of the human body, it is what the human body was designed to run on. It is necessary for digestion and food absorption, transporting nutrients to cells, regulating body temperature, and the hugely important task of eliminating toxins from our bodies. Drinking water is crucial to good health, but is probably the most neglected part of most diets.

11 comments:

Healthy and Homemade March 31, 2010 at 1:09 PM  

AMEN! I'm lactose intolerant and I used to always buy soy milk. Then I read about how awful soy can be, especially for a woman. I already have enough estrogen, I don't need any more =P

Then, I started buying rice or almond milk and now I'm seriously considering just buying lactose free milk. Then again, how horrible is that for me? =/ being lactose intolerant is crap.

Fayinagirl (means Free One) March 31, 2010 at 4:17 PM  

Whoa, Janet, I did not know that there were so many toxins in alternative milks. Thank you for sharing that information.

janet March 31, 2010 at 4:44 PM  

Healthy and Homemade, the choices offered commercially leave a lot to be desired! That's why I stick to water and teas:)

Julie Lynn, I became a fanatic about reading ingredients and learning what they actually are a few years back, so I try to share that info. with any one who asks me. I wish the food manufacturers would stop adding unnecessary crap to the food supply.

Laura of Wildenblue Farm March 31, 2010 at 5:55 PM  

Janet, I'm so grateful for the information you provide. I am noy vegan, but I do not drink milk. I rarely have soy, almond or rice milk, but I will avoid them after reading this. I think I will give a try to making my own nut milk, since I use it so little. Thank you once again.
By the way, I have saved your chocolate dip recipe to refer to once my strawberries ripen, or if I happen to pick some up at the co-op! (Since it will be two months til mine are ready in the garden!)

Stacy March 31, 2010 at 6:13 PM  

This is great info, thanks for sharing. I actually started drinking water, milk and coconut mil kefir made at home and I love it!

janet March 31, 2010 at 9:01 PM  

Laura, thanks for your nice comment. I tend to spend a lot of time researching things and I know others do not always have the time to do it, so I try to share things I've learned if I think they may be of help to someone. That is one of the best things about you and all of my fellow bloggers- bloggers share so generously and really try to help others.
I hope you enjoy the chocolate dip when your strawberries come in:)

Stacy, water and coconut milk kefir are on my list of things to try making, I am so glad you enjoy them!

Oraphan April 1, 2010 at 1:10 AM  

Thank you for sharing such helpful information, Janet! I guess I have to stop using soy milk from now on. I'm happy (and very grateful) to read this post because I've been drinking a lot of water and hot tea, I only use a little bit of soy milk for my coffee once a day. I hope it doesn't hurt that much.

janet April 1, 2010 at 8:52 AM  

Oraphan, it is great that you are drinking a lot of water, it's what the body needs most:)

Claudia April 4, 2010 at 11:35 AM  

Fascinating. We do drink milk here - the grocers are now carrying a more "natural" milk - we shall see.But water - yes. Nothing quenches better.

Marycatherine Barton April 4, 2010 at 2:39 PM  

And here I was, just ready to go buy some more soymilk. Thank you so much. Living alone, and adverse to cooking more than the bare essentials, I wonder how green tea and cereal will taste. I definitely have quit, splenda and aspartame, thanks to the internet info zone.

janet April 5, 2010 at 8:53 AM  

Claudia, I agree, nothing quenches like water and it's what the body was meant to run on:)

Marycatherine Barton, thanks for your comment. I am so glad you quit splenda and aspartame, those toxic chemicals don't belong in our food supply or our bodies.

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