Mmm, ice cream, yoghurt, cheese, oh my!
If reading that caused your stomach to hurt, you’re not alone.
More than 65% of the world’s population is estimated to be lactose intolerant. This percentage can rise to 90% for those from specific ethnic groups, like individuals of Asian or African American descent.
There are many factors contributing to lactose intolerance, but studies have shown your genetic makeup plays a large role.
How does lactose intolerance work?
Genetic lactose intolerance refers to an inherited condition in which your body doesn’t produce the necessary amount of the enzyme lactase to break down lactose (a sugar found in dairy). When your body can’t properly digest lactose from drinking milk or eating ice cream can cause, um, let’s say ‘issues’. 😉
If you’re interested in learning more about genetic lactose intolerance, read our Nutrition 101.
Is it hard to go dairy-free?
Not at all!
Today, there are a wide variety of milk and dairy alternatives. The market for plant-based, dairy-free alternatives is projected to grow significantly in the coming years. Some of these alternatives may even show up on your GenoPalate genetic nutrition analysis.
Here are just a few examples of some widely available dairy alternatives that might appear on your analysis.
Soy milk is one of the oldest plant-based milk alternatives. It was first used about 2000 years ago. Despite its age, it is growing in popularity thanks to an affordable price tag and its versatility in the kitchen.
According to the Journal of Food Science and Technology, soy milk provides a variety of benefits which include being a “good source of essential monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids which are considered good for cardiovascular health.”
Almond milk has become readily available at most grocers and is also one of the most well-known plant-based alternatives to dairy.
Almond milk is nutrient-rich and low in calories—probably two reasons why it’s topping the dairy-alternative charts! Almond milk is usually fortified with calcium, riboflavin, vitamin E and vitamin D.
In parts of Asia, coconut milk is a staple ingredient. Not only is it used widely as a beverage, but it’s also used in many traditional recipes such as curry.
Coconut milk is a great source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. It is particularly rich in iron and calcium. It’s also known as being antibacterial and antiviral.
Another great health fact about coconut milk is that it contains lauric acid. This type of acid is also present in mother’s milk and aids in the development of the brain.
Like other nut-based milk, cashew milk can be a great source of “healthy fats”, including oleic acid, which is linked with reducing cardiovascular disease. Also, cashew milk mimics the creaminess of regular milk which can make it more palatable for those making the switch to dairy-free.
In a study on the nutritional value of nuts & seeds, cashew milk was linked to:
- Heart health because it is full of monounsaturated fats;
- Eye health, thanks to its high lutein and zeaxanthin (antioxidants) content;
- And it can boost your immune system, among many other benefits.
Rice milk is usually made from brown rice and brown rice starch. Studies have shown that rice milk lowers cholesterol and hypertension in those who consume it since it has anti-inflammatory properties. It is also considered the best choice for those who suffer from multiple allergies—for example, nut and dairy allergies.
Similarly to almond milk, rice milk can be fortified with calcium, vitamin A and vitamin D to make it a better source of nutrients.
Oat milk is another delicious alternative to cow’s milk, and much like rice milk, it’s a great alternative for those who suffer from multiple allergies and intolerances. Oat milk is made by soaking and blending oats with water, then straining with a cheesecloth.
Oat milk is fortified with vitamins and is a good source of fibre.
Oat milk benefits include:
- Being lactose-, soy- and nut-free;
- Lowers blood cholesterol because it is high in beta-glucans (a soluble fibre with heart benefits);
- Fortified with calcium and vitamin D; both of which promote healthy bones.
Hemp seeds have become a popular supplement within the plant-based industry because of their health benefits. They are rich in vitamin E, antioxidants, and fibre. Also, hemp seeds contain a large amount of high-quality protein in comparison to other plant protein sources.
Some research indicates that hemp milk can be a better source of calcium, iron, vitamin A, magnesium and zinc compared to other plant-based alternatives—and even compared to cow’s milk! Hemp milk also promotes skin health, because of its fatty acid content, plus, it can help protect against heart disease thanks to being rich in antioxidants.
Where does GenoPalate fit into all of this?
While our nutrition DNA analysis can’t identify allergies (food allergies begin in the immune system), it can identify genes that may make you more susceptible to sensitivities.
By enlisting the help of a licensed nutritionist as well as leveraging your GenoPalate analysis, you will be able to properly navigate the vast world of dairy-alternatives. Click here to learn more about how DNA testing and a personalized nutrition plan can benefit you.