We all grew up being told to drink at least three glasses of milk a day, not really knowing why we had to, except that it will build strong teeth and bones because of the calcium content. When we flipped through the pages of a magazine, cow’s milk was glamorized by celebrities with these white mustaches, causing us to think, "I would love to look like they do: beautiful hair, lean body, shining white smile."
Dairy, however, may not be all it was cracked up to be. I’ve found some great non-dairy milks to drink instead that provide numerous health benefits, as well as loads of vitamins and minerals — they are genuinely great for the body.
As an integrative physician, I always discuss the utmost importance of following a diet that is mainly based on plant protein. If there is one documentary that you should see, it would be Forks Over Knives, which examines this issue thoroughly. Animal protein — which is any protein derived from meat and dairy products — leads to an acidic environment in the body, which can build up toxicity and lead to numerous medical problems, from obesity to heart disease to diabetes and worse. Furthermore, animal protein — especially dairy — is pro-inflammatory, causing a plethora of medical problems from allergies to asthma.
One commonly held argument for animal protein is that it is more "complete." While it’s true that animal proteins contain a variety of amino acids, your body also has to work harder to assimilate and digest them, slowing down the process of elimination. Plant protein is ready to be incorporated into the body once ingested, and the amino acids are easily integrated, so the body does not have to expend extra energy or work harder by doing striving to utilize the proteins. In addition, more protein can be found in some plants than in meat. For example, 100 calories of steak has only 5.4 grams of protein, whereas 100 calories of broccoli has 11.2 grams of protein — not to mention an abundance of calcium and other minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants that you cannot get from animal meat.
I’d like to introduce you to my rock-star list of plant protein-based milks, which I recommend for those who are trying to increase the plant protein in their diet. Keep in mind that certain drinks may not be suited to everyone. There are advantages and disadvantages to each one depending on your food intolerances and other medical conditions. For example, rice milk or soy milk may not be recommended for everyone, so always talk to your physician about what is right for you. This is simply a general guide to expand your options.
Sesame milk is packed with more calcium than dairy in a cup-to-cup comparison. Plus, this drink is abundant in zinc, copper, magnesium, and B vitamins.
Gluten-free, it may be a perfect source of protein, and is a great option for those with gluten sensitivity. This grain is related to the spinach family, and is actually a complete protein, with all the essential amino acids.
Dr. Deepa Verma of Synergistiq Integrative Health believes that healthy and holistic living is the key to happiness and aging gracefully. Follow her on Twitter @DrDeepaVerma and subscribe to her Youtube Channel.