No Wellness Wankery

26: Should I ditch dairy?

August 30, 2022 Lyndi Cohen
No Wellness Wankery
26: Should I ditch dairy?
Show Notes Transcript

Group coffee orders can be awkward enough. If you have a complex order, it can be quite daunting to attach your name to a three quarter full extra hot latte. But on Jenna's latest group ordering ordeal, she was shocked to realised she was the only one still drinking cow's milk with her coffee... Feels like we need to chat to Lyndi about this.

As plant based milks continue to rise in popularity, are these really the healthiest options for all people? Are they really the best choice for our planet?

Let's chat.

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 Hello, this is the No Wellness Wankery podcast, the podcast where we look at all the wellness information out there and say, is this wellness? Is this wellness? Is this wankery? And we go through it all. My name is Jenna D’Apice and I'm joined by the brains behind, wondering whether this is Wellness or Wankery, because she's very qualified, unlike myself. She's a nutritionist, dietitian, Lyndi Cohen.

 Hello, hello. I like that intro. That was making my brain feel very big.

 I know. I feel like my intro is when I off the cuff at the end, I really pump you up.

 You really pump me up. I need you around all the time to tell me how fabulous I am.

 Today I want to chat to you because I've had two experiences. One time I went to a cafe and I ordered a coffee and I was like, can I have a regular cappuccino? And they were like, with milk from the cow?

 What? They offered you milk from the cow?

 I was like, yeah, just milk from the cow, like no alternative milk. And then the other day, I was having a discussion with a group of people and I discovered I was the only one out of the 10 people that still drank milk from the cow. And one of the people in the conversation was like, I'm so shocked that you still drink milk. And I was like, where have I been that milk is scary? What happened with milk?

 This, it's fascinating that milk from the cow.

 Milk from the cow.

 By the way, I love that phrase. It's an interesting phrase. That has become the exception and not the rule. So where does this all come from? So we know that there was this huge plant-based milk movement, which you've noticed over the last 10 years really, it's gotten huge, started very much with the almond milk, oat milk, what other milks?

 Oh, you get all kinds of milk. Macadamia milk, soy milk. I feel like soy milk was the first one.

 That was the first, but it was always around, but it wasn't trendy. It's never been the trendiest option. But then once almond milk came on the scene, it became a very trendy thing. People were making their own milks at home.

 Oat milk?

 Yes, oat milk. So, okay, let's talk about this. So, basically, how do you make a palm-based milk? You would take whatever product you're making it from, whether it's oats or almonds, and you would blend it and blitz it up into small particles. You'd add water to it. You'd then drain it, so you're taking out all the pulp, all the fiber, basically, and what you're remaining with is some of the nutrients found from the actual product and a whole lot of water. Everyone's probably tasted them before. They tend to taste like less fattiness to them because cow's milk has a lot more of that naturally occurring fat. It's also got things like calcium and a higher level of protein in them. Anyway, so you have these plant-based milks and I think the whole thing that we have these days is that we believe that they are healthier for us, but are they really?

 This is the thing because I've tried to drink coffee with other milks because people are telling me that's what you're supposed to do and they just really don't taste very good. I just don't enjoy them.

 Like, they're people just forcing themselves to enjoy it. Okay, so let's talk about taste first. So taste, I personally don't think they're nearly as tasty as dairy milk. Maybe that's because I grew up on dairy milk and that's what I like. Some people enjoy the taste and if that's you, then good for you, happy for you. I think almond milk is my least favorite tasting, it's the least creamy in my opinion, whereas oat milk is my favorite because I find of all of them not only is it nutritionally the best but I also think it is round in flavor and I think that's a pretty good thing. Okay so that's taste, what do you think? Yeah I feel like oat milk definitely tastes the best out of all of them I think if you're going to go with an alternate milk. Almond milk with coffee I think tastes sour, terrible. I do not like that at all. But in saying that, in my smoothies I like almond milk. I think that tastes nice. I can also have regular milk, but almond milk I think tastes nice. I also really like the flavoured oat milks. They're tasty. They're tasty, yeah. Like a chocolate oat milk. Also, chocolate cow's milk is beautiful. We cannot knock chocolate cow's milk. But chocolate oat milk I think is nice too. But in coffee I feel like even oat milk, I think it just tastes like chalky. Yeah, there's a separation that happens as well because the particles kind of just break up away from each other and it can taste chalky. So that's taste. But I don't think that's the main reason people are doing it. I think there are two other primary reasons. One of them is the environmental impact. There's a huge environmental discussion going on around cows and how they produce a lot of methane and that impact on the environment. So I think there's a whole bunch of people who are trying to make a more environmentally conscious decision there, which I think is part of the equation. And if that is you and you're thinking about that, I would say dairy definitely does place quite a large strain on the environment, but let's not underestimate the impact of something like almonds, which are the most thirsty crop that you actually need to use so much water. So the amount of water that you need to actually grow an almond and then you're basically taking the pulp, you're getting the micro little bits out of it, you're not eating the rest of the almond. And adding more water. You're adding water, you're diluting it further, I just don't, I can't get on board with the idea that that is a more environmentally conscious, hugely more environmentally conscious. I actually have not done the math about like comparing the two, but from what I've seen it is a bit of a debate about is it actually a more environmentally conscious option. Not sure about that. Now with something like oats, you can get a whole lot more oat for less water and so it would be probably a whole lot more of an environmentally friendly option.

 There's also probably the people that are doing it from just an animal perspective, which is fair. They want to go more away from animal products in general. But then I suppose eating less meat or doing those things are all type of things that you can contribute to that.

 Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, it's definitely something I am trying to do. I am trying to eat a little bit less meat, but I'm still including things like dairy into my food. So let's talk about the nutrition because nutrition does play a big part of why I still include dairy in my life, in my diet. Okay, so dairy is a very interesting kind of food group. So it has got all the calcium, which by the way, it is the best source of calcium in our diet. You still need to have three different types of dairy throughout the day in order to get your calcium requirements. I think a quarter of Australian women are low in calcium which leads to osteoporosis which is a huge issue especially as you get older. As an older woman your bones aren't nearly as strong and I think that's really interesting to note that we are underestimating how much calcium we're needing because we're seeing from older women that this is turning out to be a big problem. Milk, yogurt, cheese all give you calcium. Yes, all these things. Yeah, even something like cream would, but we're not considering that because that's a bit more of like a sometimes food, whereas these things like cheese, yogurt, milk, that is everyday kinds of foods that we should be having.

 What about you were saying the other day about how you don't get the calcium if it's in coffee


 Oh, okay. Well, that changes the absorption because coffee interacts with dairy and therefore you may not absorb it all. So that's kind of... Okay. That is a valid thing. So no, a coffee with a little bit of milk, that isn't going to count towards your calcium for the day. Because you're probably actually not

 having that much milk in it anyway, if it's a small coffee.

 No, you're not. And so with these plant-based milks, I actually feel like you need to be checking that they are calcium fortified, or you need to be making sure that you're getting calciums from somewhere else. So if you are swapping away from dairy, just ticking that box is really important for your bone health. The other thing is protein, dairy naturally does have that protein, so you can have a glass of milk and it's going to give you a really nice, I think it depends on the milk, it could be like 10 grams of protein depending on how much you have. But it's going to be that nice little serve of protein. I think everyone gets obsessed with these protein powders but a glass of milk in its natural state is a really nice source of protein. And also something like a yogurt. So yogurt has, it's a very good source of probiotics. It has those probiotics added to it, so it's very good for our gut microbiome, especially if you're eating a whole lot of fiber with it. So if we're cutting out dairy and not having yogurt, you need to be sure that you're having probiotics in other sources. So maybe, let's say you wanna have a coconut yogurt, making sure that you've actually got probiotic added, which nowadays they do add the probiotic. That's just an important thing to support your gut health. But as you can see, you have this natural package of dairy that already ticks all these nutritional boxes, and any time we're stepping away from it, you need to tick the boxes yourself. Just make sure you're ticking those boxes. So yeah. Let's talk about also the fat contents in dairy, right? So there's a whole low-fat, full-fat kind of thing. So a full fat milk has got 3% fat and then a skim milk has like 0.1 or 0.2% fat. So really- These are very low numbers. Super low fat. And then I don't know if you've ever seen, if you go to like a fruit shop and they've got those yogurts, those cafe style yogurts, and it's like only 93% fat free. And I'm like, so you're telling me that has 7% fat. That is like- Really high. That's quite high, but you're selling it to me like it's a health claim, even though it's not. I just always find that really interesting that they do that. Yeah, but like a full fat milk, whether you have a full fat milk, I personally have light milk because I find full fat milk too rich for me. Whether you go for full fat or low fat, if you are going for dairy, I think it's a personal preference on what makes you feel good. They are not adding more sugar to lighter milks with less fat, but when you reduce the fat, you're gonna change the ratios, you're naturally gonna have more sugar. It is up to you and how that dairy product makes you feel, but you don't need to avoid full fat and you don't need to go to skim or you don't need to avoid skim either. So I think it's a bit of like shaming around people who still have light milk.


 Yeah, like it's, and I just think, why don't we just keep flip-flopping between shaming one side of the section. How about everyone just does what they feel good with?

 I saw a cafe in Melbourne started a trend of not charging people extra money for alternative milks because they're saying, we want people having alternative milks because they believe in the environmental cause and so many people do, but because they're trendy and that's what people want, it's kind of like a diet culture vibe of therefore people will pay more money for it, like health foods are more expensive. And I think it's interesting that some cafes are switching to, we don't need to charge you extra money for these milks, it's not just about making money.

 I haven't checked the price, but is plant-based milks, are they significantly more expensive than dairy milk? And is that shifting as more and more people go to plant-based milks, that the supply is increased, which means that they can sell them for less money?

 Yeah, I don't know in the supermarkets, I don't buy them, but I know like if you're at a cafe, it's always like 50 cents extra or 80 cents extra for plant-based milks.

 And I mean, coffees in Australia are already pretty expensive.

 They're already pretty expensive.

 That does get a little bit crazy. I think that's an interesting idea. Just popping right back to the fat content for a second. So with dairy, you have saturated fats that are naturally occurring in dairy. And so we know typically saturated fats aren't healthy for us. But this is very kind of interesting thing that happens with dairy. For some reason, the research shows that it doesn't adversely affect us in the same way that saturated fat from other sources does. And the scientists, they can't quite work this out. So there's this idea called the food matrix. So the food matrix is the idea that when you have a food in its full format, in the whole context of it, so for example, yogurt, for some reason, the interaction of those nutrients when all together means that certain nutrients don't react in the same way that they would in a different context.

 Right, so it's like all the, it all works together. Like the fiber in an apple.

 Yeah, so you might kind of go like, look at the nutrition panel and be like, oh, that's not good, that's not good, but somehow in the context of that food, it can be okay. So that's a new kind of idea where we start, stop shaming, where we stop focusing on nutrients that are bad and we start talking about food as like the context of the whole food and how that food affects people. And I just think that's kind of interesting. So when it comes to your heart health, there isn't enough evidence to say that you shouldn't be having dairy, that it's bad for you. I think there's a whole bunch of benefits from having, particularly with your bone health, that actually it's a far better thing to be doing and we shouldn't be avoiding it for cholesterol levels or whatever the reason. I think in the 90s, people were very like trying to go on the low fat thing because of things like high health and that's kind of been debunked.

 Oh, geez.

 Things move fast.

 They do, but the fundamentals have remained the same, I think.

 Yeah, it's probably like things come up and then they get debunked and then the baseline has remained the same of what people- Yeah, totally.

 Should be eating. And let me just like defluff it for you right now. Are eggs bad for you? No, but don't have a million of them. Is dairy bad for you? No, just don't only eat dairy. Get the full mix and the balance. And I think, so just to kind of pull this into a conversation, I feel like there are people who can't have dairy for either an allergy or an intolerance, so people who are lactose intolerance. If you're from East Asia, 70% to 100% of people from East Asia can't digest lactose, which is the sugar that's found in milk. So that's very interesting. If you're Arab, West African, Jewish, Greek, Italian, you're at a much higher risk of having a lactose intolerance. So what happens in lactose intolerance? That's when your body doesn't produce enough of the enzyme called lactase, which is what breaks down lactose, the sugar found in milk, right? So for those people, I can fully understand why they're going to be going for those plant-based alternatives as well, because before they tasted like crap, and now we're getting a whole lot better.

 Yeah, they're getting better.

 They are getting nocier. They are getting better. They're getting more generally just available, and that's a good thing as well. If you're a person who tolerates dairy, who enjoys dairy, I don't think you need to change and transform it. I think if you watch a Netflix documentary telling you that dairy is terrible for you, please don't do that because I think once again it's all about the context, it's all about how much you're having as well and I think if you are going to change away from dairy, which I wouldn't personally recommend, you just need to be making sure that you are ticking those other nutrient boxes, the things that you're missing out on. Would you say that's when people could be having supplements if they need calcium or prebiotics or the

 things that you get from dairy.

 Probiotics, yeah.

 Or they should be getting it from other foods.

 It's hard to get your probiotics from other foods. People often talk about these fermented foods or probiotics. They're not technically probiotics. Kefir may have probiotics to it, but kimchi is just a ferment. Probiotics is a whole topic, but for a probiotic to be considered a probiotic, it needs to be able to get through to your gut level, which means it has to go through all the acid in your stomach and actually survive in order to be able to do good. Now these ferments are really good for us, but they don't reach probiotic level because they're not actually having that therapeutic benefit. Is it useful to take a probiotic? That's a whole different topic about different strains that do different things, I would, if you're considering doing supplements and you're like, I don't want to have dairy, cool, go see a dietician, nutritionist, and go, okay, cool, this is how we're going to balance it out, make sure you're getting enough of the calcium, the probiotic, ensure you're getting a good source of protein. Because otherwise, when we do take up certain things, we can create a bit more of an imbalance, which is fundamentally what we're trying to prevent. You can certainly be healthy without having dairy, and good for you if it's what makes you feel good.

 I'm glad I can continue to have dairy because it makes me feel good.

 You may, you may.

 Thank you.

 I hope we've answered your questions there when it comes to having dairy. I know it is a really controversial topic and you know we ultimately can be healthy in many ways. There's not just one way to be healthy so let's embrace that. If you've got any other questions though, send me a DM on Instagram and hopefully I'll be able to answer your question. You can leave me a voice note if you want to turn up on the podcast to help us decide is it wellness or is it angry. If the Instagram is nude underscore nutritionist and it was all as always, if you're liking the podcast, like, subscribe, leave us a review.

 We'd love to hear from you and we'll chat to you next time.

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