Before Swapping Dairy For Plant Milk, Know How It Can Affect Your Sensitive Stomach
If you're considering plant milk over dairy for the sake of your unsettled stomach, make sure to talk to your doctor first. Just because plant milks are trendy doesn't mean they're best for your health.
"While plant milks are marketed as a healthier and more natural alternative to dairy milk, some are loaded with ingredients that are not the best for your overall health," Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, and founder of Nutrition Now Counseling, explains.
"Avoiding questionable ingredients like oils, sugars, and stabilizers is a wise step for people who have digestion and gut health issues."
Of course, it's so important to talk to your doctor before exploring dietary alternatives to avoid pain, discomfort, and especially allergic reactions.
Because every person tolerates food differently, Manaker shares that sometimes it takes some trial-and-error (under medical supervision!) and lots of ingredient reading to find a plant milk that's right for you — if it is at all.
"One person may tolerate a certain sweetener, for example, and another will drink the same beverage and be running to the bathroom in 10 minutes," she explains.
And remember, plant milks in general have completely different nutritional profiles than cow's milk, which is high in protein and vitamins like calcium, vitamin D, and several B vitamins, Manaker says.
Since nondairy milks are primarily made of water, she adds that they often contain less protein and vitamins per serving, and can be heavier in additives like carrageenan or gums.
That's why Manaker generally recommends avoiding sweetened offerings with added sugar when picking a plant milk. And be wary of the term "natural flavors," too, if you know you can't tolerate certain ingredients like carrageenan and other emulsifiers and stabilizers, as they can cause bloating.
Yes, splashing vanilla-flavored oat milk in your tea or cereal sounds delicious, but talk to your doctor before restocking your refrigerator — and that goes for almond milk, coconut milk, pea milk . . . you get the gist.