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Drinking Non-Cow Milk Linked to Shorter Kids

More consumers are rejecting pasteurized cow’s milk and embracing alternative milks derived from almond, rice and soy. These milks have their own set of consequences. According to a CNN report, a new study shows that children who drink non-cow milk are on average shorter than their classmates. 

Milk’s position as a dietary staple is on the wane. Sales of alternative milks are soaring and are expected to reach $1.7 billion by 2016, with almond milk leading the way. This is largely due to the fact that pasteurized milk is a dead white liquid that is bereft of nutritional value. Worse still, it is often sourced from concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) dairy farms. This has increased the prevalence of dairy allergies and driven the sales of milk alternatives. Whether these offer any benefit is open for debate. 

Consider the case of almond milk. There are many reasons to snack on whole, raw almonds. They're an excellent source of protein, healthy fats and antioxidants. Almond skins contain beneficial phenols, flavonoids and phenolic acids, which are more typically associated with vegetables and fruits. 

Drinking almond milk may therefore seem like a smart choice, one that may offer you the health benefits of almonds in beverage form — but it's not as healthy as it would appear, particularly if you buy commercial varieties. What exactly is almond milk? It's typically a combination of almonds, water, sweetener, thickener such as carrageenan and, often, fortified with synthetic nutrients such as vitamins A, E and D. Much further down the ingredient list are the actual almonds. In a whole gallon there is only a handful. 

Almond milk is just one of several plant-based milks available in most major supermarkets. You can now easily find a handful of others as well, most of which are marketed as healthy. Soy milk ranks as one of the worst of options. One of the worst problems with soy comes from the fact that 90 to 95 percent of soybeans grown in the U.S. are genetically modified. 

The active ingredient in Roundup herbicide is called glyphosate, which is responsible for the disruption of the delicate hormonal balance of the female reproductive cycle. It is hard to consider soy milk a viable option when thousands of studies have linked unfermented soy to reproductive disorders, infertility, malnutrition, digestive distress, immune-system breakdown, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, cancer and heart disease.

Rice milk is composed of similar ingredients to almond milk, namely filtered water, rice and added vitamins. There's nothing particularly healthy about rice milk along with a potential harm: arsenic. Rice has been shown to accumulate 10 times more arsenic than other grains, due to physiology and growing conditions, and is an ingredient of "moderate" concern in rice and rice-based processed foods, according to the Environmental Working Group. 

An informed consumer may be disheartened by such lackluster alternatives. Fortunately, coconut milk and raw milk are available to please the skeptics. Coconut milk is made from the expressed juice of grated coconut meat and water. About 50 percent of the fat in coconut oil is lauric acid, which is rarely found in nature. Lauric acid is a type of medium chain fatty acid (MCFAs), which is easily digested and has been linked to reduced body fat. In addition, coconut milk is rich in antioxidants and nutrients, including vitamins C, E and B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and iron.

It is hard to believe that raw milk is now viewed as a milk “alternative.” High-quality raw milk from a reputable source is far preferable to store bought milk and provides tremendous health benefits that pasteurized milk cannot. Most notable are the healthy bacteria that the pasteurization process exterminates.