Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Got “The Right” Milk?

We’ve all heard the slogan, “milk, it does a body good” - but what kind of milk? While some milk is fine for some, many others, especially children are allergic or intolerant from their first drink. An estimated 30 million Americans have some kind of lactose (the milk sugar in all dairy products) intolerance, and more than 100,000 babies are thought to suffer from milk allergies.

Today many people are asking which milk is the best choice for their families and children. Some households have more than one kind of milk and milk alternative to satisfy different ages, dietary restrictions, and tastes. In addition to considering the various cow’s milk alternatives, many parents of children who can drink cow’s milk are buying organic brands to minimize the exposure of the hormone bovine somatotropin (bST) or recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH), which some pediatricians and nutritionists such as Robert Pastore, Ph.D suspect as an agent of premature development in children.

So what milk or milk alternative should you buy? Here are some options. And no matter which brand or alternative you try, choose those with fortified calcium, magnesium and vitamin B-12, which makes cow’s milk such a nutritional giant. Here are some cow’s milk alternatives:

Almond Milk

Not high in protein (only two grams per 8 ounces, as compared with 8 grams in cow’s milk) this naturally sweet beverage does have some beneficial fats and calcium. Because of the smooth and creamy texture it also works well for cooking and baking. Almond milk is not an alternative for those with nut allergies.

Goat Milk

Coat’s milk has only slightly less lactose than cow’s milk, making it an inappropriate alternative to those with intolerance. However it does have different proteins from cow’s milk, so may be a good choice for some with allergies. Goat’s milk is slightly sweet and salty with a fat level and consistency similar to whole cow’s milk.

Rice Milk

This is the least allergenic milk alternative, as it is suitable for children with milk intolerance and allergies. However it is lower in protein and much thinner in consistency than cow’s milk. Young children not getting enough protein from food sources, should not substitute rice milk.

Oat Milk

Oat milk is high in fiber however low in protein. Oat milk has a slightly sweet taste and light consistency. It is highly tolerated by most kids who have soy, rice and milk allergies. However it is not acceptable for children with celiac disease or other wheat and gluten intolerances and allergies.

Soy Milk

This is high in protein and the most popular cow’s milk alternative. If you’re a vegetarian, or if your baby has trouble digesting cow’s milk protein, the doctor may suggest a soy-based formula. Although between 5 and 30 percent of children with a cow’s milk allergy are also allergic to soy - thus it is not an option for everyone. Recent research and questions have arisen over soy’s phytoestrgen levels and possible link to interferance with children’s hormonal and sexual development. Some pediatrician’s caution not to give more than 2 serving a day to children.

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