Whether you're vegan, lactose-intolerant, or just avoid dairy for the health of it, you know how many non-dairy milks are on the market now (hint: too many). In an ideal world, nut milks would be made with just two ingredients: nuts and water. But, if you’ve spent some time reading the labels, you’ll see that most contain a laundry list of ingredients- most of which are unnecessary. These plant milks are filled with gums, natural flavors, preservatives and are mainly water.
The main problem I have with so many store bought milks is the gums which are used to give the milk a good consistency. These gums include, but are not limited to, carrageenan, xanthan gum, and locust bean gum. All of these thickeners can cause your digestive system major stress and are just plain unhealthy. So, when you think you're doing good by switching to dairy-free- you're wrong!
As always, read your labels! Check for those weird additives, stabilizers, and unnecessary sweeteners. Buying nut milk can be expensive, especially when the good ones are organic, contain a few simple ingredients, and are unsweetened. If you're not into spending the $$, I have included a basic nut milk recipe below so you can make your own at home!
Brands to Avoid:
All in all, I try to avoid all gums and thickeners, natural flavors, and additives, like those added vitamins.
Gums: The gums in non-dairy milks are generally present in small quantity, but if you consume them over a long period of time you may experience some adverse effects.
Xanthan Gum: This gum is a polysaccharide produced by bacterial or synthetic fermentation. Xanthan Gum swells in your intestines which causes gas, bloating, cramping, and is terrible for those who suffer from IBS.
Guar Gum: While guar gum is derived from the guar plant, it is known to increase gas, bloating, and cause diarrhea. The a study that was presented to the FDA just came out saying that excessive use of guar gum (in diet pills) can obstruct the intestines and esophagus due to gel forming in the GI tract.
Locust Bean Gum: Derived from carob seeds of the carob tree, locust bean gum is considered natural, but still has many adverse effects. It can block nutrient absorption, slow down your gastric emptying rate, and cause other stomach troubles such as bloating.
Carrageenan: Carrageenan is derived from seaweed, but has been linked to ulceration, inflammation, and bloating. It also has no nutritional benefits, just like the other thickeners.
Brands I Buy:
Filtered Water, Almonds. They make tons of other inventive milks like brown rice, oat, peanut, chocolate peanut walnut, hazelnut, and cashew. Some of these are sweetened so always check your labels!
Reverse osmosis filtered water, organic almonds. Fun flavors include Honey Vanilla, Chocolate, and Honey Lavender
Unfortunately only available in California.
Make Your Own!
Feel free to get creative here! You can even use seeds to make some quality milk. If you’re feeling like you want to add a kick- add some cinnamon, maple syrup, vanilla and/or dates. The beauty with making your own nut milk is that you’ll know exactly what's in it and can adjust it to your liking!
You may want to soak the nuts if you have a sensitive tummy and it also makes them easier to blend!