By: Thea Boatswain, ’18, University Health Center Nutrition Peer Educator
Nutrition fads seem to come and go but one that may stick around is drinking milk alternatives.
For some, milk alternatives are a must because of lactose intolerance. Students who are lactose intolerant cannot digest lactose, which is a naturally occurring sugar found in cow’s milk. For those students, drinking a milk alternative, such as soy milk, is great because they are still able to enjoy the pleasures of milk without any of the lactose side effects.
For others, the concern of hormones and other additives in the milk have prompted them to forego traditional cows milk. In an article published by the NIH, it states that any pasteurization of the milk destroys the hormones that might be present. It also states that if, by chance, any hormones are ingested by the human body it wont be recognized and will simply pass through the digestive tract, unabsorbed. If you’re still worried about hormones being in the milk you should know the FDA has reported that farmers actually stop giving cows medications in the months before lactation to make sure that all traces of antibiotics or hormones have left the body.
Hormones are just one concern I’ve heard from my Nutrition Coaching clients. Some simply think that cows milk is unhealthy because of fat or caloric content. So I have compiled a list of different types of milk and compared them with traditional milk so that you can make the decision for yourself!
As you can see, skim cows milk has more protein, two grams more than soy milk and seven grams more than rice or almond milk! That’s a huge difference. This whey protein in cow’s milk has been found to support muscle growth after strength training, meaning it can help build strong muscles! Cows milk also has no added sugars. Milk alternatives need additional sweeteners to equal the amount of natural sweetness that is already in cows’ milk.
So if you are avoiding traditional cow’s milk because you feel that it is less healthy than the others, I encourage you to think about it again. If you choose a milk alternative because you enjoy the taste better, then enjoy those, just make sure it is fortified with calcium and Vitamin D.
If you are still concerned about eating dairy products and use one of the dining halls on campus, don’t fret. The dining halls have a handy legend that will tell you what foods contain dairy and other common food allergens/intolerances.