What’s In Your Non-Dairy Milk?

by Rhianna on April 24, 2014

I couldn’t tell you the last time I drank cows milk. Understanding dairy is one of the top 5 allergenic foods, and recognising the fact that I am reactive to it has caused me to steer clear for many years. Luckily, there is a plethora of alternative milk products out there, convenient in tetra pack, that I have been using. My preferences have changed as this market grew. From rice milk, to oat, almond, hazelnut and finally coconut. I have recently started using a delicious creamy coconut milk product from the United States, and I have to say I thought I’d found the one!

Fresh Organic Coconut MilkThen I was browsing NutritionFacts.org this morning and my happy coconut milk world was shattered. I came across an article titled “Should Carageenan be avoided?” Cue the dramatic music…

As a health conscious (a little bit obsessive) naturopath, I make sure I read every label of packaged products that I buy. I had read my coconut milk label and found all the ingredients to be acceptable in my opinion. These ingredients included ORGANIC COCONUT, DRIED CANE SYRUP, TITANIUM DIOXIDE, DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, PEA PROTEIN, CARRAGEENAN, and GUAR GUM.

I checked out all the ingredients (especially the scary sounding ones) in my trusty Chemical Maze iPhone app, and found they were all accompanied by green little smiley faces. No red frowny faces in sight! So I was shocked to see this information make it’s way to me as I browsed the internet this morning.

The article stated: “We had known for decades that it (carageenan) had harmful effects on laboratory animals, but in 2008 the first study on human cells to “suggest that carrageenan exposure may have a role in development of human intestinal pathology” was conducted.” It went on to say  “The latest (studies) suggests carrageenan consumption could possibly lead to a leaky gut by disrupting the integrity of the tight junctions that form around the cells lining our intestine—the barrier between our bloodstream and the outside world.” For the full report click here.

In my years as a naturopath, I have only ever seen 2 patients that did not have significant levels of leaky gut showing up on their stool tests. So I would hazard a guess and say for the majority of the population, carrageenan, regularly in the diet, is not a good idea. Myself included. Sad face. :(

And then, as if that news wasn’t bad enough, I read “Titanium dioxide is another additive used in non-dairy substitutes. See Titanium Dioxide & Inflammatory Bowel Disease for the latest on its safety.” This video- while non-conclusive, did provide some compelling evidence that may suggest the micro and nano particles such as titanium dioxide can contribute to increased inflammation in the gut. Especially significant for those suffering Crohn’s Disease, or Ulcerative Colitis.

Basically what these articles have shown me, is that new information is coming out all the time, but not necessarily being widespread. Some times you have to look for it. And it also compelled me to trash the tetra packs and just make my own alternative milks. I know how to do it, I know it’s easy, I have just never got into the habit. And in the wake of these reports, it looks like it might be a very good habit to get into! I’m thinking a blend of organic coconut (preservative free) and almond with a little vanilla will be my first attempt!

What is in your favourite non-dairy milk? Have you looked into those extra ingredients?



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2 commentsAdd comment

Don Gray October 16, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Have there been any found to not have nanoparticals in them and not soy?

Rhianna October 31, 2014 at 1:49 am

Hi Don,

Personally, I haven’t found any prepacked non-dairy milks that don’t have carageenan, or other similar stabilizers in them. Anything made fresh will be free from these particles, but that is all I know of at this stage.


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