Weekend: A breakdown of milk and other non-dairy beverage options

By ANDREW AKHAPHONG
What is the deal with cow’s milk these days?
At the Allen County Women, Infant and Children clinic in Lima, I had many parents ask me about allergies, intolerances and dislikes or aversions their child may have toward cow’s milk.
First, let’s break down the differences between a food allergies, intolerances and aversions. A food allergy responds to a protein in the food and causes immunological responses that can be fatal for some. Symptoms can include swelling, hives, itchiness, redness, chest pain and shortness of breath.
According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, having allergies can be hereditary: “If both parents have an allergy, you may have a 75 percent chance of developing an allergy, or if one parent has an allergy, you have a 30-40 percent chance of developing an allergy. If neither parent has an allergy, the chance is only 10-15 percent.”
Food intolerance is hypersensitivity toward consumed food that does not cause immunological responses. Symptoms include diarrhea, headaches, gas, cramping, bloating, heartburn, irritability or nervousness.
A food aversion is simple. It is when one does not like to eat the food at all.
So what options do we have now for dairy products?
Milk allergies, intolerances and the general dislike for food are becoming more prevalent across the nation. Also, veganism, and non-dairy vegetarianism, has come into popularity.
Luckily, food manufacturers have heard the calls from consumers to make dairy products available without the cow.
Cow’s milk comes in whole, 2 percent, 1 percent and skim. The difference between them is the amount of fat, but not so much in its overall nutritional content.
Whole milk is recommended for children one to two years of age. This is when they need more calories to grow and develop properly.
The fat content decreases as you go down to skim milk. As we get older, we do not need the calories as much from milk, but more so from the solid foods we need to eat.
Cow’s milk is a natural source of calcium. It is fortified with Vitamin D as well. Vitamin D helps the body absorb the calcium from the milk.
Lactaid-brand milk allows people with lactose intolerance to drink cow’s milk, by removing the sugar, lactose, from the milk.
Soy milk is made by soaking dry soybeans and grinding them in water with the pulp strained and removed. This is a good alternative for people with lactose intolerance and milk allergies.
Calcium is bound in the pulp of soybeans, but, because this is removed, soy milk is enriched with calcium, as well as Vitamin D.
Soy milk contains little amounts of saturated fat and no cholesterol. Even though it has approximately the same amount of protein as cow’s milk, soy milk is a complete protein source for vegans and vegetarians.
Almond milk is made the same way as soy milk. It is also a good alternative for people with lactose intolerance, milk allergies, soy allergies and intolerance.
Again, almond milk is enriched in calcium, Vitamin D and other minerals. Almond milk, however, is lower in protein content than cow’s milk and soy milk. But it contains no cholesterol and saturated fat.
Rice milk is made by cooking rice, blending it with water, and then strained. It is a good alternative for people with lactose intolerance, milk allergies, soy allergies and intolerance, nut allergies and intolerance.
Rice milk contains very little protein and calcium. Therefore, it is enriched with calcium, Vitamin D and other minerals.
With the many available products on the market, you will be able to find what is right for you and still be able to enjoy the taste of dairy.
For more information, contact a registered dietitian.
Akhaphong is a student at Bluffton University and a dietetic intern with Ohio State University in Hancock County.

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