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Last week I did a segment on the Morning Show sharing healthy milk alternatives with the lovely Liza Fromer, who has a milk sensitivity herself. As soon as she removed cow's milk from her daily coffee, the belly bloat disappeared.
I wanted to address a few more points that I did not talk about in the video.
As I'm sure you can guess, I do not recommend cow's milk. This sterile white liquid when slurped on a daily basis is a recipe for inflammation, food sensitivities (tummy troubles, acne, eczema, headaches etc) and it's an acidifying food. The milk of today is not the same our great-grandparents were drinking otherwise known as raw milk. It is homogenized, pasteurized, sterilized, bleached (to remove the blood and pus colour -- yes, gross) to make it visually appealing, free of fatty lumps otherwise know as that schlop of fat that used to sit on top and completely free of any bacteria whatsoever.
What we have today is not what I call a health promoting food. Yes, it's a great source of calcium at 300mg per cup, but there are far better options than drinking milk from another mother. I've seen hundreds of clients benefit immensely from removing cow's milk from their diet. In fact, one very recent client cleared up her acne prone skin since childhood ditching milk.
Calcium is important, but it's not the only nutrient to consider.
99% of our bones and teeth are made of calcium. The other 1% is is needed for our heart, muscles, and nerves to function properly and for blood to clot. In fact, 3 to 4 pounds of our body weight is calcium! However, in order for calcium to do it's job you also need vitamin D, magnesium and vitamin K2. If you are considering a calcium supplement because you do not want to drink milk (I don't blame you), then consider a "bone-building" supplement, not just calcium. However, food first, always. In fact, you can adequately get all your nutrients for healthy bones and teeth from food alone provided you eat a wide variety of foods that include calcium and other nutrients. AND provided you avoid the foods that create an acidic body and promote leaching of calcium from the bones in an effort to buffer the acidity.
Despite all the milk slurping people, we have an epidemic of calcium deficiency. Why might this be?
Coffee, alcohol and smoking cause a negative calcium balance in the body; more calcium is lost than is taken in. Pop and soft drinks are extremely high in phosphorus, low in calcium and do a very efficient job throwing off the balance in your body and are a suggested cause of osteoporosis. Both table salt (try unrefined sea salt or himalayan rock salt instead) and refined nasty sugar also aggravate calcium loss.
Research has shown a direct link between a high protein diet and calcium loss.
Again, that dang phosphorus content of meat may cause the body to lose calcium in its attempt to counteract the phosphorus. The average American gets more than enough protein, so for most of us it can only help to cut down on our factory-farmed meat consumption. If you are an omnivore, I highly recommend you practice Meatless Monday! In fact, vegetarian diets are associated with lower risk of osteoporosis, likely because fruits and vegetables are alkalizing, whereas meat is acidifying.
Food Sources of Calcium, plus other bone-building nutrients
How much calcium is enough?
Read Doug Cook's article on this because there are some really great points around supplementation to consider (please note: I do not recommend you take Tum's for your calcium intake per the article but all the other info is bang on):
*These are not a great source of calcium. They are a simply a great option instead of drinking milk.
It's best to make your own nut milks as most of the store-bought stuff is full of additives like carrageenan that may aggravate your gut and promote inflammation in the gut.
I hope this post answers your questions surround calcium and milk. If not, please do post your questions below and I will be sure to answer them.
Hi Joy! Thanks for this post. I am trying to kick the milk-in-my-morning-coffee habit. What's your take on brown rice milk? I noticed that it's an alternative you didn't mention and I'm curious what you think about it.Reply
I don't personally use it because I hate the taste, but it's also a great option to cow's milk. Just watch the list of additives.
I'm so glad you mention dairy and acne. I had horrible acne and the dermatologist told me there was no way that food causes acne and then put me on Accutane. I finally got off it and went for an allergy scratch test and found out I'm allergic to dairy. As soon as I stopped the dairy my acne went away! People look at me like I'm crazy when I tell them dairy gives me acne.Reply
I'm thrilled to hear this Raquel. Please share your story with as many people as possible!
Hi Joy, I've heard that the acidic nature of cow's milk is actually a major contributor to direct calcium loss in bones, as the body releases alkaline minerals (such as calcium) directly from the bones, teeth, and other tissues when there is an overabundance of acid in the blood. Can you speak on the validity of this statement? There seems to be a major lack of scientific evidence to support this yet, there are many scientific articles out there which claim there to be an inverse relationship between increased intake of cow's milk and osteoporosis development (which may have more to do with the NDC and/or Big Pharma bias). Thanks, Joy!Reply
Hi Lauren, yes are absolutely correct. Milk's pH is alkaline but the problem is the effect it has on the body which is acidifying. The body will do everything possible to always keep the blood as alkaline as possible, this means it will leach calcium from the bones to help buffer acidity. The main source of acidity is food, so if you eat heaps of grains, sugar, pop, dairy, don't get enough exercise, have a lot of stress (etc etc) then you will be more acidic. Since the average North American is slurping buckets of homogenized/pasteurized milk, it's very easy to draw a conclusion that this would be a contributor of an acidic body. Raw milk is not in the same category.
Thank you for the info Joy! I was wondering though, does this applies to all cows dairy products? For instance, is cottage cheese or greek yogurt bad too? Thanks! :)Reply
I guess it does make those dairy sources bad too, since they are made from cows milk...
Hi Joy, Do you have any recommendations for brands of coconut milk? I had been using a canned organic coconut milk as a substitute for coffee cream but I'm concerned about potential BPAs in the can lining. Thanks!Reply
You can switch to the tetra pak brand if you like... just keep in mind there can be additives like carrageenan. Better yet, make it yourself!! I've got a post coming out about making your own hemp, almond and coconut milk.
what about chia seeds as a source of calcium?Reply
Yes Lynn, thanks for the addition!
Hi Joy! Thanks so much for the information - I have just recently stopped drinking cows milk and notice a huge difference in how I feel. I was wondering the same as Carly posted above (r.e cottage cheese, greek yogurt). I sometimes have greek yogurt for breakfast with homemade granola, so was wondering your thoughts on this. Thanks :)Reply
Hi Joy, what about grassfed raw milk...is this okay to drink? I purchase it from a local farmer, and my son has been finding his bad tummy aches have gotten better since drinking the raw milk. I'm wondering if it is the good bacteria in the milk that pasteurized milk kills that is helping his gut heal.Reply
If your son is thriving on raw milk, that's great! Yes, I would think that's exactly what's going on, but do be careful if you decide to introduce it yourself as an adult. I personally wouldn't drink raw milk now, unless I was raised on it.
Great post Joy! I was diagnosed with mild irritable bowel syndrome last year, and the doc offered meds and talked to me about fibre, but not dairy. As an experiment, I cut out most dairy, and my symptoms lessened substantially. (Unfortunately, it didn't fix my acne though). I'm glad you're warning people to check the additives in non-dairy milks. It's sometimes a challenge to find ones without carrageenan - that stuff is everywhere (even in some of the organic products)!Reply
I make my own almond milk, flax milk and coconut milk but we also drink some raw cows milk (from 100% organic grass fed cows) I feel like we've got a pretty good mix of milk and milk alternatives and we're all healthy so it works for us!Reply
Hi Joy, Certianly cow's milk is not the best one to consume. I would make the only exception to non pasteurized milk from cows that are fed with organic grass. And would not do that often. Hopefull such milk still can be found if you look around a bit:) Have a perfect day, RobertReply
Where can raw milk be purchased? Would coconut kefir be a source of calcium? I would love to know where I can purchase coconut yogurt and coconut kefir as well; I've had zero luck in finding these at my local whole foods stores here in the GTA. :(Reply
Essence of Life has coconut yogurt for sure. I don't know about coconut kefir though, you'd have to phone them and ask.
Hello joy! What do you recommend for babies then? I have a 19 month old who still has a bottle morning and night . Thanks!Reply
Hi Estelle, there is a great recipe in a book called Nourishing Traditions for baby formula. However, goat's milk is a better option -- more digestible too.
Hi Joy! Great post as always. The article by Doug Cook says to take calcium carbonate as a supplement if I read it correctly? I've been told calcium citrate is a better source for long term use. What's your take?Reply
Hello, I was wondering what you would give to a one year old? Can they get adequate amounts of fat and calcium from non-dairy milk?Reply
I have many many clients who choose not to give their kids cow's milk and they are thriving. If you can tolerate goat milk, that's a good option for kids because the casein is less of a problem -- casein being on the proteins in milk that is very hard to digest. I didn't go into the milk proteins in this article because I will save that for another post. However, there is a list in this post on foods with calcium, but it's very important to remember it's not just about calcium. Also, the milk replacements ie. nut milks are not a good source of calcium. They are simply to substitute instead of having cow's milk. Your child can very easily get enough calcium from foods alone outside of milk provided they are given at each meal.
I would also like to know about yoghurt and kefir milk. Does the process that milk goes through to get to these states make it better for your body? Thanks.Reply
Hi Joy - thank you for this post, I've recently cut dairy out of my diet but have been worried the effects on my calcium levels (especially since I am pregnant). You mention spinach as a good source of calcium. I thought spinach actually contributed to calcium loss because the oxalate it contains. What are your thoughts? Thank you!Reply
I drink alot of milk but it is skim milk, I cant stand whole or 2% milk. I also use the lowfat cottage cheese in a sugar free jello salad that I love. Is skim milk any less harmful than whole milk?Reply
Yikes! I wouldn't advise cottage cheese or sugar free jello (artificial sweeteners). You should check out some of my healthy breakfast recipes.
Hi Joy - I am allergic to almonds. Could you advise how to make hemp or coconut milk?Reply
Yes I am going to do a post on this actually. It will come out soon! :)
In your milk alternative section you didn't put rice milk? My children drink enriched rice milk as a substitute to cows milk....is rice milk a healthy calcium alternative?Reply
Rice milk is a great option, I just didn't think of it because I personally don't like the taste. So yes! However, it's not a replacement for calcium. Non of these non-dairy subs are a replacement for Ca but rather a replacement for milk.
Hi Joy, I actually like cow milk, but I am trying to cut back on it. So I started making my own almond milk, which is great!! I used two dates to give it some sweetness, and I am looking forward to my morning coffee even more than before :-). However, I have not found a decent recipe/advise as to what to do with the excess almond meal? I have tried to make some bread and muffins out of it, but failed miserably. Any suggestions?Reply
If you have a food dehydrator you would probably have better luck with cookies or crackers. You could us it as a scrub (just be careful it doesn't go down the drain).
I grew up drinking milk, but then gave it up after falling for propaganda from "wellness" types, and my health and athletic performance suffered. I won't make that mistake again. I really feel for all of you that have an actual genetic defect that prevents you from enjoying delicious, nutritious milk.Reply
Thanks for the article. My question would be the daily quantity required of almonds, for example, to reach the levels that our bodies need. So, how many almonds per day, or kale, etc? Where would I be able to find this info. Thank you!Reply
First of all congratulations on your marriage and I hope it was a truly magical day for you! Just referring back to your article on calcium since Im starting to make my own almond milk and I'm curious as to what type of almonds you recommend. Is just raw fine or do they need to be organic? And thank you for your ever positive and incredibly informative advice!Reply
Hey joy! Forwarded your article to my mom who at 80 is currently on prescription calcium supplements for osteoporosis. Her doctors advise her to drink a cup of skim milk a day. She pointed put to me that the Cook article you recommended also states milk is an excellent source of calcium so I'm confused. She does not drink raw but it is organic. Would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!!Reply
Hello, I love this site! I am a junky! I do not believe in eating dairy products, however my partner feels differently. This will undoubtedly be an issue when we raise children. Her comments, "but what about grilled cheese sandwiches, and trips to the ice cream store." I am curious, what is your take on raising children dairy free? Formula, etc.? (Let's add to that all of those unhealthy pizza days at school!)Reply
Dear Joy, Twenty-eight years ago I decided to make cows milk my main diet along with added supplement nutrients. I decided on instant non-fat dry milk. I have been on that diet the full number of years and am in perfect physical health at age seventy-four. I consume six measuring cups of dry powder per day--like clockwork. Obviously my heritage is from Northern Europe and few people can tolerate my diet. But some cannot and are discouraged with your posting. It is hard to beat skim milk on a nutritional basis. I therefore consume 4.5 quarts worth of skim milk in powdered form. I consume it as a thin batter. I love it, but even I have to caution the quantity with each serving. I have never taken any prescription medicine and as I write this am preparing to go out cross country skiing. ----Eric Westhagen, Brandon, WisconsinReply
Hi! I am expecting my first child (at 42 years young—-( just thought I’d share); was not planning on introducing milk after breast feeding (if I am even able to breast feed); any thought? Much thanks! ElenReply
Hey Ellen, I believe we emailed you about this :) However, I've included my notes to you below as per the email: This is probably something that would be better addressed with your natural health care practitioner or nutritionist during the planning stages, however to briefly answer your question, it's fine if you don't want to introduce cow's milk as it's pro-inflammatory and typically causes issues for children and adults alike.
However, alongside breastmilk or once you start breastfeeding (if you do), it may be beneficial to introduce sheep or goat yogurt products (cheese, milk, yogurt) which is still dairy, however it's lower in the Alpha S1 Casein that typically causes issues for people. This way you can ensure your child is getting enough fat and protein, as well as key nutrients like Vitamin B12.
Let me know if you have any questions! Rachel - Joyous Health Team
Hey joy! I was wondering about your thoughts on the brand Good Karma Flaxmilk..... to buy or not? Could you recommend some of your very favorite store bought milk alternatives? I’m also looking for some that aren’t fortified with nutrients. Thanks!Reply
I don't know that brand but I really like Mylko and Earth's Own. Those are the two I buy on repeat right now.
Hi Joy: I'm just wondering why you haven't listed a fortified Soy Milk as a good higher calcium milk alternative.Reply
Soy milk is not a healthy alternative. It is very high in phytoestrogens, trypsin inhibitors, strongly associated with allergies and food sensitivites. As a nutritionist, it's not an alternative I recommend :)
Hi Joy, the link to the article you recommended is no longer available. What supplement would you recommend for calcium deficiency? My enamel is thin on my front teeth, and I’m noticing tooth decay. I take vit D and K, zinc and copper, fish oil, magnesium, etc. Any suggestions, I’d be so greatful! ThanksReply
I would recommend working with an ND or certified nutritionist to get to the root of your calcium deficiency as taking calcium as a supplement isn't ideal. There are many natural ways to support your enamel. I don't have an article on my blog about this but if you search this topic you'll find dozens of posts about it. Check out this post as well about holistic oral care: https://www.joyoushealth.com/27508-blog-natural-oral-care-essentials Hope that helps!