The number of non-dairy options available, even in traditional grocery stores, is soaring!
People stay away from dairy for a variety of reasons, including allergies, lactose intolerance and concern over the environment or over the way animals are raised and treated. While organic grass-fed dairy products can be a healthy option in moderation, some people feel better, lighter or less congested with fewer dairy products of any type – or none at all.
Dairy’s protein is so highly concentrated that it has the potential to cause some unhealthy side effects over time. Chronic inflammation from too much dairy can cause gut damage due to the way it inflames the gut’s lining. It’s one of the common causes of leaky gut, which can lead to autoimmune disease and other health issues. Then there are the digestive disturbances experienced along the way such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or even long-term IBS.
Many people who would like to cut out or reduce their dairy consumption are concerned about missing out on the calcium, protein and vitamin D that a cow’s milk provides. Good news! There are options available that can get a variety of tastes and important nutrients into your body!
Many milk replacements are available in unsweetened, sweetened and flavored varieties. Start with the unsweetened first, as some others have a lot of added sugar. Just check those labels!
- Almond Milk – the unsweetened version is great for baking, quiches, cereals and puddings
- Hazelnut Milk – try this for hot chocolate! Also good with cereal and for baking
- Rice Milk – this can be on the sweet side; it’s easy to digest for many people and a good replacement with hot or cold cereal and in smoothies and other beverages
- Soy Milk – hands down, the most common replacement of all, but this is NOT okay if you are trying to get pregnant!
- Oat Milk – great for hot cereals and custards but remember – this is NOT okay if you are avoiding gluten!
- Hemp Milk – good for baking and using in smoothies
- Coconut Milk – great substitute for cream; try it for quiche, desserts, pies, puddings, custards and cold on cereal. It can be a bit thick, so you may want to try it thinned out with a bit of other non-dairy ‘milk’
If you are still consuming dairy, make sure it’s organic, grass-fed dairy or in raw milk form from a trusted dairy farm. Locally, we love Waldo Way in Mineola, TX.
It’s very easy to make your own nut milk at home also!
- Daiya has non-dairy cheeses in all of the types and flavors we’re used to enjoying
- Field Roast has Chao Slices – a vegan coconut cheese alternative
- Other good brands are tofutti, Go Veggie, and Follow Your Heart
- Goat cheese and feta can be good alternatives to cheese made from a cow’s milk
- Kerrygold organic grass-fed cheese and butter is also a great brand if you’re still incorporating dairy but want good quality
We know calcium is necessary for good bone, tooth and blood health. Calcium also has other roles in the body, helping with:
- muscle contraction and relaxation
- blood clotting
- enzyme function
- nerve functions
Aside from dairy, other good sources of calcium include tofu, tempeh and soy beans. Other foods which contain calcium are dark leafy greens, almonds, sesame seeds and white beans Like vitamin D, some foods have added calcium (examples include ‘fortified’ soy, nut and rice beverages).
Tips to Get the Most Vitamin D and Calcium Out of a Dairy Free Diet
- Eat a variety of foods containing calcium and Vitamin D. This will help you get enough of these key nutrients your body needs.
- Add acids such as vinegar or lemon juice to your food to help your body absorb nutrients like calcium.
- Egg yolks and salmon, along with fortified soy, nut, and rice beverages, are high in Vitamin D.
- Speak to a professional if you have any concerns about whether you’re getting enough Vitamin D and calcium.