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The traditional dairy section in grocery stores has been steadily making room for plant-based milk alternatives. This shift is driven by health and environmental considerations, given that an estimated 68% of the world population is lactose intolerant and the dairy industry accounts for about 1.3% of U.S. total carbon emissions. Therefore, the growing preference for plant-based milk seems like a logical progression.
Plant-based milk not only supports sustainability but also offers a range of health benefits. The options are plentiful—almond, oat, rice, soy—and it can be challenging to decide which one is the healthiest for your gut. Wellandgood.com recently connected with Dr. Will Bulsiewicz, a leading gastroenterologist, to discuss the best plant-based milk for gut health.
In a social media update, Dr. Bulsiewicz shared his fondness for soy milk. He praised its high protein content and essential amino acids, which are comparable to cow’s milk. However, the advantages of soy milk extend further. It’s packed with isoflavones—anti-inflammatory compounds associated with a host of health benefits, such as reduced risk of heart disease and stroke, lower blood pressure, and improved bone health. Additionally, soy milk consumption could possibly reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
Dr. Bulsiewicz emphasized that soy milk has a low saturated fat content, which is beneficial for heart health and cholesterol management. Furthermore, it can assist in exercise recovery by enhancing muscle mass, akin to dairy milk, as shown in studies on seniors with muscle mass loss.
Focusing on gut health, soy milk is known to positively influence the gut microbiome by increasing levels of Bifidobacteria—a beneficial bacteria crucial for digestion and complex carbohydrate breakdown. However, Dr. Bulsiewicz advises choosing organic soy milk to prevent exposure to glyphosate, a weed-killer chemical that could potentially harm our gut bacteria and cause dysbiosis.
Despite these health benefits, soy milk has faced certain misconceptions. Dr. Bulsiewicz counters these, stating there’s no evidence supporting a link between soy consumption and breast cancer or changes in breast size due to estrogen levels.
As for daily soy milk consumption, research suggests that drinking around 200 milliliters twice a day can help build muscle mass. However, Dr. Bulsiewicz believes there may be additional benefits from increased intake.
While soy milk is a great alternative for those with lactose intolerance, it’s not suitable for individuals with soy allergies. Those with a history of kidney stones should limit their consumption, and people with hypothyroidism should maintain a time gap between soy intake and medication.
Barring the exceptions mentioned above, soy milk could be a nutritious addition to your diet. So, during your next grocery shopping trip, don’t hesitate to add a carton of soy milk to your cart.
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