The other day Jayson was scrolling through Facebook and came across something that really got his mind reeling. It was a new kitchen product called a Hurom Slow Juicer that was being used to make nut butters and non-dairy milks. Harmless, right? Well, if you haven’t heard this before, prepare for a shock: We’re not so crazy about nuts! In fact, we believe this supposedly healthy “go-to” snack (in all the ways you can consume it) can cause some major damage to your health if you’re not careful.
Remember we look at each food through our “micronutrient filter.” In order to determine whether or not a specific food is good for optimal health we look at two things.
- Does this food provide meaningful amounts of micronutrients?
- Does it contain any potentially harmful or micronutrient depleting ingredients (GMOs, pesticides, anti-nutrients, etc) – or cause an imbalance between the essential fatty acids omega 3 and omega 6 (again…micronutrients)?
Here’s the lowdown on nuts milks:
- Yes, nuts (thus nut milks) can supply you with meaningful amounts of micronutrients. So, this box is checked.
- But, nuts and their bi-products naturally contain anti-nutrients, or EMDs (Everyday Micronutrient Depleters), which drain the body of a wide array of essential micronutrients – In fact, nuts contain more different types of anti-nutrients than any other single food in the world that we’re aware of! Additionally, their heavy concentration of omega-6 fatty acids can create a dangerous imbalance between omega 3 and omega 6. This high level of omega 6 promotes inflammation within the body is linked to many debilitating health conditions and diseases.
As you can see, nuts (and their milks) fail to meet our “micronutrient filter” standards. Sure, nut milks are an alternative to dairy for those with allergies or for those following elimination or vegan diets and they do supply some micronutrients, but the one-two-punch of being inundated with 5 different micronutrient depleting anti-nutrients while at the same time increasing inflammation via obscene omega-6/omega-3 ratios are HUGE red flags for us. This is why we restrict nuts and eliminate nut milks in our Micronutrient Miracle and Rebuild Your Bones protocols, in addition to recommending the use of a high quality fish oil like our Origin Omega everyday.
So imagine Jayson’s shock when he read about yet another device that makes it accessible to binge on nuts by producing nut milk at home! It was enough to get us to sit down and write this blog to sound the alarm about a device that could really put your health at jeopardy.
DO YOU REALLY WANT TO DRINK DOWN A GLASS OF INFLAMMATION?
Sure, making fresh dairy free milk and nut butters in the convenience of your own home might sound enticing, but it comes at the expense of your health. A modern diet is already highly inflammatory due to its ever-increasing omega 6 levels. In fact, while our ancestors consumed omega-6 and omega-3 fats in a ratio of around 1:1 modern Americans are ingesting a ratio as high as 25:1. Almond milk is practically liquid inflammation in a cup, especially if you are already deficient in anti-inflammatory omega-3s (when we test clients this is almost always the case!) Let’s examine just how much omega-6 you might be exposing yourself to in every glass of almond milk. First, you need to know that one cup of whole almonds contains 17,440 mg of omega 6 (only 8.6 mg of omega-3 a ratio of 2008:1) and that each cup of almonds produces approximately 4 cups of almond milk. This means that you are drinking in about 4,360 mg of inflammatory omega-6 in each cup of almond milk. The average glass of almond milk is 12 oz. or 1.5 cups. So, your average 12 oz. glass of homemade almond milk supplies you with a whopping 6,540 mgs of omega-6.
Let’s put the 6,540 mg of omega-6 into perspective. How hard would it be to counterbalance that amount of omega-6 with enough omega-3 to achieve a 1:1 ratio?
The shocking reality is, that you would need to take seven 1000 mg fish oil capsules or eat a pound (16 oz.) of wild caught salmon to balance out the inflammation causing omega-6 in that one simple glass of almond milk. (And, this does NOT take into account anything else you ate that day to further increase your omega-6 levels…Avocado oil, anyone?)
ARE YOU LIKE SAM?
Here is a true story about one of our awesome Calton Nutrition team members named Sam. When Sam first joined us, a cup of almond milk was one of her go-to ingredients for making smoothies. However, Sam started complaining of aches and pains in her joints whenever she went out for a walk or practiced yoga. Well, you can imagine that Jayson had a few choice words to say about that nut milk. So, Sam decided to put our info to the test. After only one week of cutting out the almond milk and supplementing with Origin Omega the nagging pains had vanished.
So what can you do in the meantime if you really want to get your fix for dairy free milk? The first order of business is adjusting your omega-3 levels to meet the level of your omega-6 intake. While we’ve spoken more depth about this before, the short answer is that you need to focus on eating RICH FOOD, adjusting your LIFESTYLE HABITS, and SMART SUPPLEMENTATION. And by focus, we mean doing all three – not one, not two, but all three combined. Once you accomplish this, you’ll be able to obtain an ideal 1:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids for optimal health.
OUR TOP 2 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR DAIRY FREE ALTERNATIVES
If you are still in the market for a dairy free alternative to milk, here are our top two options:
Our top Rich Food pick for non-dairy milk goes to…coconut milk, which perhaps is the sweetest and creamiest option in this category (it also happens to be our personal favorite). The good news is, one cup of coconut milk only contains 626 mg of omega-6 (7X less than almond milk). Coconut milk is also a source of medium chain triglycerides (MCT), in addition to being a great source of micronutrients (including calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, copper, zinc, iron, selenium, and vitamins C and E). However, before you go grab the nearest carton of coconut milk, you need to know that many coconut beverage companies like to sneak in sugars, preservatives, and thickeners. There are better products, with fewer additives, in the shelf stable area, but not all of them use BPA-free packaging, so beware.
Second up is hemp milk, which is made of cannabis seeds (the same as marijuana) but doesn’t have any of the drug’s psychoactive side effects in the milk itself. While hemp milk still has a higher 3.7-to-1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, delivering 3700 mg of omega-6 and 1000 mg of omega-3 in each one cup serving, is not thought to contain any EMDs (phytic acid, oxalic acid, lectins, tannins, or trypsin inhibitors). Its excellent magnesium content also puts it up there as one of our top choices. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the fact that the omega-3 found in hemp is ALA, the only form of omega-3 found in plants. ALA does not have all the great benefits of omega-3s from fish oils, which naturally contain the other two forms of omega-3 (EPA and DHA). When buying hemp milk, be sure to read the labels carefully, as both original and flavored hemp beverages are often loaded with sweeteners and thickening agents. Look for organic brands from reputable companies.
For a full assessment of all the non-dairy milk alternatives including our RICH FOOD PICKS download our guide here: