Eileen Higgins, MD, FACS
Rice, almond, soy, Lactaid, skim, 2%, 1%? How to choose! These days, it seems nothing is straightforward anymore, not even milk. Of the above choices, they break into two main groups: dairy and non dairy. This is an important distinction, as dairy is one of the most inflammatory food classes there are, second only to gluten.
Rice, almond and soy are non dairy options. Of these, almond milk is by far the best choice. It comes in three carb amounts: 1 gram, 8 grams or 14 grams per 8 oz. Rice milk has 24 grams of carbohydrate in 8 ozs, three times that of almond milk’s highest carb option.
Soy milk, aka “Silk”, is made from soy. Soy has been artfully marketed for decades as, “THE health food”. However, it has its problems. Soy has high levels of substances that prevent the thyroid from using iodine correctly. This can lead to hypothyroid problems. It also contains isoflavones (plant estrogens) which lead to increased estrogen and decreased testosterone.
Lactase, the enzyme that digests the main sugar in dairy, stops being produced when one is between two and five years of age. Being able to digest milk is a genetic adaptation, “lactase persistence.” So, after age two, we genetically weren’t supposed to have dairy. In any event, we do. So, let’s look at it: The amount of carbohydrate in 8 ozs, 12 grams, holds constant across milk from skim to whole. This is true of Lactaid as well. The difference is in the fat content. 2% milk has 5 grams of fat, and 3% is saturated fat. Whole milk has 8 grams of fat, and 5 grams are saturated per 8 oz serving. Oh, and lets not forget cows are injected with bovine growth hormone (genetically engineered) to increase milk production. This increase of milk often leads to udder infections, treated with … … yes, Antibiotics! So, if one must use dairy (with its animal fat, inflammation, hormones and antibiotics), non fat, skim milk is the best option. However, overall, the best option by far is almond milk; it’s non dairy with the lowest carbs. So, when you go to buy milk, take another look.