SOY MILK will kill you!!!!???? (which milk alternatives are best?)

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding animal milk past the weaning age, as well as some milk alternatives (such as soy milk). I thought it would be a good idea to research the different types of milk and milk alternatives, and come to a better understanding of the pro's and con's, in hopes that I could come to a more well rounded understanding about which one is best. Currently I am a huge organic soy milk fan, but I have had both almond and rice milk with success, other than my husband who hates them both and is stuck in his soy ways. When I was kid I used to chug dairy milk like water, and goat's milk I have only had one tasting, and it wasn't good. So, which 'milk' is best? Which milk will kill me (that may be an exaggeration), and which milk will sustain me?. So, here goes...the milk debate! (with special emphasis on 'soy' milk, due to all of the controversy):

Soy Milk (bean):
The Good:
-  Soy products contain isoflavones (what?). Isoflavones are compounds found in soy beans, red clover, green tea, some beans and legumes, and have have been linked to cancer prevention, slowing or reversal of osteoporosis, reducing the risk of heart disease, and the treatment of menopausal symptoms (but this is controversal; there is concerns about the negative impact of isoflavones).  
- Many of the controversies have been predominantly linked to animal testing, rather than human. That being said, animals absorption of soy, and the subsequent issues, are not indicative of what the human body will endure. One study placed focused on Asian infants, many of whom have been fed soy formulas/ products for centuries without any extensive, negative data. 
- Soy milk is typically fortified with several vitamins and minerals, and naturally contains vitamins A, D, E and K. 
- For those who are lactose intolerant, soy-milk is a safe option in that it reduces the frequency of digestive, gastrointestinal problems (such as bloating, gas, cramping, etc.) that stems from dairy consumption. 
- A nutrient-dense food. Few foods contain as much nutritional bang for the buck as this bountiful bean. Ounce for ounce, calorie for calorie, the soybean gets top-billing as a rich source of protein, unsaturated fats, fiber, B-vitamins, folic acid, potassium, calcium, zinc, and iron - and it's cholesterol-free. There is no other single food that supplies so much nutrition in such a tiny package.
- Soy contains mood-friendly carbs. Soybeans have the lowest glycemic index of any food, so they are slow to trigger an insulin response, providing a more stable blood sugar with fewer mood swings from high and low blood sugars. 
- Soy is widely available in all grocery stores, and comes in many forms: bean, milk, cheese, yogurt, flour, oil, etc.

The Bad (soybeans, milk, tofu, edamame, soy protein, meat, oil and infant formula):
- New research has suggested that soy products are linked to breast cancer in some women, affects brain function in men, can alter sexual development (including fertility), and can lead to hidden developmental abnormalities in infants. 
- Soy products contain inhibitors of thyroid function (leading to hyperthyroidism). This is due to the 'Goitrogens', substances that block thyroid function.
- Soy has been linked to the blood clotting (red blood cell clumping) 'hermagglutinin'.
- Soy products could contain toxic levels of aluminum and manganese. This is because some soy products are processed through acid washing in aluminum tanks. Soy products are 80 times higher in manganese than breast milk.  
- Reportedly, soybeans contain an anti-nutrient called "phytic acid", which may block absorption of certain minerals, including magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc.
- Soy is said to contain a natural chemical that acts like female estrogen. It is said that just 2 glasses of soy/ day can even alter a woman's menstrual cycle in regards to timing, and frequency.
- Up to 95% of soy products are genetically modified (when buying, look for 'non-GMO', organic soy products).
- Soybeans also contain potent enzyme-inhibitors. These inhibitors block uptake of trypsin and other enzymes which the body needs for protein digestion. Normal cooking does not de-activate these harmful anti-nutrients, which can cause serious gastric distress, reduced protein digestion and can lead to chronic deficiencies in amino acid uptake. 
- There is MUCH controversy concerning soy for infant consumption. It is said that soy infant formula can greatly disrupt your growing babies sexual development and reproductive health. Some believe that one feeding of soy formula contains the same amount of estrogen as 5 birth control pills. 

SO, what soy products have been deemed safe to eat??? (or at least do not fall under these 'bad' terms)? Fermented soy products DO NOT fall under these controversies. This includes tempeh, miso, soy sauce, or natto. The products that fall into question are the ones that contain 'un-fermented' soy, such as soybeans, soy milk, and GASP tofu.

My thoughts: I may switch from regular soy milk, to FERMENTED SOY MILK, which yes, it does exist. Some brand examples are: Jarrow, Peaceful Planet, and many other powdered milk forms. When purchasing a soy milk product, read the label, some will say fermented, but many of the popular brands are not. Two things I would like to point out, first, is that in my research I came across soy's ability to both fight and cause cancer. Hmmm. Also, the idea that isoflavones can be both good and bad for the body. Hmmm. However, that being said, there seems to be TOO MUCH negative research concerning un-fermented soy, which makes me nervous about using it as my dominant milk alternative.

But what about tofu
Tofu is filled with healthy minerals and vitamins, including high levels of iron, protein, calcium, and low in calories and fat. It has been linked to cardiovascular health, a lowering of bad cholesterol, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer production, and as a good source of omega3 fatty acids. But is it otherwise safe to consume? Most tofu is not fermented, it is coagulated, which means it falls under the same suspicions as all other un-fermented soy products. That being said, there are, however, tofu products the ARE fermented. When you are buying tofu, make sure that it says FERMENTED on the label. They do exist, but may be a little harder to find (aka: the need to go to a natural food store, or Asian food market, versus a regular grocery store). Some examples are: many Chinese varieties (doufu-ru, furu, rufu, fuyu, funan). There are few North American manufacturers, but check your local health food store to know. For me, I am not willing to ignore all of the health benefits that tofu (un-fermented included) does have, so it is left to the consumer to make the smartest decision for themselves and their families. If I could purchase fermented soy products on a regular basis, I would. However, the occasional un-fermented soy product will NOT KILL YOU. Regardless of what the research says, we put worse things into our body on a regular basis (pop, chips, sugars, cigarettes, alcohol, etc.), but you don't see everyone ditching them in there entirety. Consider all of the things you consume, and make the choices that seem easiest and most comfortable for you. 

Almond Milk (nut):
The Good:
- Almonds are one of the healthiest nuts you can consume. They are filled with magnesium, potassium, manganese, copper, the antioxidants vitamin E and selenium, and calcium, making almond milk one of the more nutritious milk alternative choices on the market. 
- It contains a significantly less amount of saturated fat than cow's milk, and does not spoil as quickly at higher temperatures (dairy milks begins to grow bacteria after only 2 hours outside of the fridge; heads up 'lunch pack' making moms!)
- It has been proven to reduce the risk of my heart, and other chronic diseases. Almonds help the digestive and nervous systems and can help prevent cancers, diabetes, and weight problems.
- It has significantly less sugars (7 grams) to the skim, dairy milk variety (which has 12 grams).
- Almond milk is extremely easy to make at home. Here is a recipe I have used:

All-Natural Almond Milk

1 1/2 cups of raw almonds, soaked in water overnight
4 cups of filtered or spring water
3-5 dates (optional)

Blend 1 ½ cups of raw almonds that have been soaked overnight in 4 cups of water. Blend with dates if you like your milk with a hint of sweetness. Strain once to remove almond granules (in a fine strainer or a cheesecloth). It can be stored safely for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

The Bad:
- For obvious reasons (its a nut), it has been linked to various allergic reactions.
- Against dairy milk, almond milk as significantly less protein (1 to 8). Many people who drink almond milk on a regular basis may have to blend in a protein powder, OR keep an eye out for the protein enriched versions.
- Don't expect the flavor to be anything like dairy milk. It's a nut milk....not nipple juice. This alternative can also be pricey.
- Some almond milk can contain too much sugars (consider the sweetened varieties).

Rice Milk (grain):
The Good:
- Rice milk is excellent in baking, and as a general dairy milk replacement. In many taste tests, rice milk is favored over the other milk alternative varieties. 
- Rice milk is low in saturated fats, and calories (most brands have NO saturated fats).

The Bad:
- Many rice milks are FILLED with carbohydrates, which could play into your daily allowance.
- In regards to the other milk alternatives, rice milk is generally lower in vitamins and minerals
- Rice milk is typically high in sugar, and carries very little protein (making it, on its own, and unfit milk alternative without the necessary additives).
- Many brands of soy and rice milk contain polyunsaturated vegetable oils which can contribute to an imbalance of essential fatty acids in your body.
- Some brands of soy and rice milk contain rice syrup, evaporated cane juice, or some other natural sweetener. Natural or not, most sweeteners put significant stress on your pancreas and liver. They also raise your insulin levels, which significantly increases your risk of suffering from unhealthy weight gain, high blood pressure, heart disease, premature aging, and several other negative side effects.

Coconut Milk (Not the canned variety, the new diluted variety found in the milk section):
The Good:
- Coconut milk has a naturally creamy, rich texture, which mocks dairy milk, and is typically pleasing to the palate. 
- Coconut milk has several health benefits including the types of Medium Chain Fatty Acids which are found in it. These fats are recognized for their antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.  Unlike long chain fatty acids, which are stored in the body as fat, MCFAs are utilized as energy by the body. Half the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut milk are composed of lauric acid, which is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-fungal. So, coconut milk can help boost the immune system.
- Coconut milk contains many vitamins, minerals and electrolytes, including potassium, calcium and chloride. 
- Coconut milk is used in skin-care products to moisturize the skin and relieve dry skin and rashes.

The Bad:
- The canned variety (which is not what I was referring to above) has a high fat and calorie content. 
- Because the new 'drinking' variety has not been on the North American market for a great length of time, I found very little research to back up the good claims, or to speak toward the bad claims. 

Hemp Milk:
The Good:
- Hemp milk is one of the only milk alternatives that contains omega fatty acids, and all 10 essential amino acids. 
- Hemp milk is naturally filled with important daily vitamins/ minerals (without any additives) such as Vitamin A, E, B12, D, Magnesium, Iron and Zinc. 
- Hemp milk has been linked to the strengthening of the immune system, as well being good for hair, skin and nails. 
- Hemp milk is an excellent source of Iron, which is important for those pursuing a vegan/ vegetarian diet. 
- Hemp milk does contain a good amount of protein (about 5 grams per glass).


The Bad:

- Some people are concerned that hemp milk may contain THC (which is found in marijuana). But...this is debatable.
- Currently, it is not fully legal to grow hemp seeds outside of Canada, or Europe, which means they must be imported to other countries.
- This may be an obvious statement, but hemp milk tastes like hemp, so if you are not a fan of either the taste, or smell of hemp, you won't like the milk (no matter what benefits it has). In regards to milk alternatives, hemp milk is one of the more 'potent' choices for flavor.

Dairy Milk (moooo):
The Good:
- Skim milk (dairy) has a low caloric content, and lower sodium content than higher fat versions.
- Skim milk is a good source of riboflavin, folate and Vitamin B12.
- Milk is a good source of Vitamin D.

The Bad:
- A common issue is the problems with lactose, which have been linked to several intolerance issues, ranging from cramping, to diarrhea, bloating to inflammation.
- ALL cow's milk has 59 active hormones, many which are linked to bad cholesterol, weight gain, and allergens, including a powerful growth hormone (insulin) that has been linked to many types of cancers, and rapid growth/ aging. 
- Most cow's milk has measurable quantities of herbicides, pesticides, dioxins (up to 200 times the safe levels), up to 52 powerful antibiotics (perhaps 53, with LS-50), blood, pus, feces, bacteria and viruses.
-  All milk but skim milk is a significant source of bad fat, sugars and carbs. 
- Milk is a source of calcium (but where do cows get their calcium from? Plants). However, in order for calcium to be adequately absorbed by the body, it needs to be accompanied by magnesium, of which dairy milk contains very little, allowing you to only absorb 11 % of the necessary calcium. 
- The high protein content is questionable. Too much of any good thing, is not a good thing. Proteins, when consumed in high doses can actually steal necessary nutrients from your body (such as calcium). 
- 87% of milk is water....that's some expensive water!
- Regulations allow cow's milk to have small traces of feces in it (....who cares how small it is, that's gross). Milk is typically pasteurized more than once before it gets to your table... each time for only 15 seconds at 162 degrees Fahrenheit. In order to kill bacteria in water it needs to be boiled at a temperature of 212 degrees F. So, taking that into consideration, the standards of pasteurization do not meet the necessary requirement to kill harmful bacteria. 
- The cholesterol content of three glasses of milk (the recommended daily intake) is equivalent to 53 strips of bacon.  
- Milk can not withstand higher temperatures (outside of the fridge) without growing bacteria. Some say bacteria growth begins in 2 hours, while others say as little as 20 minutes.

Bottom Line: In regards to all milk, and milk alternative products, first and foremost I think ORGANIC is your safest bet. Like all research, there are pro's and con's to any edible product, so, like always, it is up to the consumer to choose what is best for them and their family. For me, I will continue to eat soy bean products, but try my best to find fermented types on my trips to natural food, and Asian stores. I do think there are a lot of negative results linked to soy, and it has made me question whether drinking soy on a regular basis is a good choice. I may switch to the safer almond milk, or coconut milk varieties for my daily drinking choice. In regards to rice milk, other than never really caring for the taste, I have never felt right about the amount of carbs in the product, making it an easy 'no' for me. And, as always, dairy milk is not even a choice, not even because I am a vegan, but because I am most definitely lactose intolerant. So, choose wisely, read labels, ask questions, and make smart choices. 
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11 comments:

  1. Anonymous7:38 PM

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    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YES! YES ! YES! THIS IS THE BEST WEB-SIGHT EVER! THANK YOU SOO SOO SUPER MUCH! I HAVE BEEN GOING ROUND AND ROUND, ON EVERYTHING it was Just So aggravating and Annoying i am Soo thank-full for this hard work in this web-sight! SAVED MY BUMM! Thank you again XD <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

      Delete
  2. Your blog has been the most comprehensive analysis of not only soy milk (which brought me here) but all other dairy alternatives. Thanks for the info!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous2:29 PM

    Excellent presentation of anecdotal information. Site quality research to be credible. It's all hearsay until you site credible, longitudinal, reproducible, peer reviewed research. Scientific protocols must be valid and these requirements must be met.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous10:07 AM

    What about oat milk?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous6:27 PM

    Wow I am so happy to have found your website. Excellent information. I am a vegetarian trying to go Vegan so I look for all the help I can get. Loved the find about Cheese replacement that was my downfall. I do drink almond milk and love it. I am going to try your recipe for making it. Thanks!!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous10:18 PM

    PS - here's a great link to check out -- http://www.eatlifewhole.com/2013/01/whats-the-best-dairy-free-milk/

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous10:27 PM

    Almonds in the US are not raw no matter what the label says. They are all pasteurized.
    Most not-dairy milks have carrageenan in them - a gut inflammatory.
    Soy has a dark side...if you must use, be sure is organic (vs. GMO).

    ReplyDelete
  8. Anonymous10:46 PM

    Oh 1 more thing on soy -- Condensation of an article in NewLife Mag, May '96,
    by Sally Fallon, M.A. and Mary Enig, Ph.D.
    http://www.susunweed.com/Weed_letter_Oct-01.htm#surprise

    ReplyDelete
  9. Anonymous2:04 AM

    Since there are no credible scientific sources cited in your article (or at all) article about the effects of soy here is a site that has real scientific data to back all it's claims on not only soy but a bunch of other foods as well.
    http://nutritionfacts.org/video/breast-cancer-survival-and-soy/
    Please post links to the research papers, I would love to read them.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Anonymous6:21 PM

    Beware of carrageenan in plant milks. I try to avoid it because of the research I've read. Goggle it!

    ReplyDelete

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