The Southwest Portland Post. (Portland, Oregon) 2007-current, October 01, 2008, Page 10, Image 10

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    10 • The Southwest Portland Post
EarthTalk TM
(Continued from Page 9 )
Dear EarthTalk: There seems to
be a large selection of soy and other
non-dairy milks out there today,
even right in the dairy sections of
major supermarkets. Why should
I opt for soymilk over cow’s milk
and how do I get the calcium I
would lose? -- Barbara Conant,
Tacoma, Washington
There is a lot of debate about
whether or not cow’s milk is good—
or appropriate—for people at all. On
the plus side, it is a valuable source
of protein, as well as calcium, neces-
sary to help build bones and keep
them strong.
Some researchers believe that
drinking cow’s milk reduces the
risk of kidney stones, colon cancer
and other health problems. But oth-
ers counter that the saturated fats
in cow’s milk are big contributors
to America’s weight problems, let
alone high cholesterol levels and
artery blockage.
Famed pediatrician Dr. Benjamin
Spock, in the last edition of his best
selling “Common Sense Book of
Baby and Child Care,” argued that
cow’s milk was for baby cows not
human children, suggesting that it
may be a factor in childhood onset
diabetes and in kids’ respiratory
and ear problems. He encouraged
mothers to give infants only human
breast milk and to consider soy and
rice milk products for older kids.
Chief among available alterna-
tives to cow’s milk is soymilk, which
has about the same amount of pro-
tein but much more fiber than cow’s
milk. In striking contrast with cow’s
milk, soymilk actually reduces the
body’s cholesterol levels.
It also contains isoflavones, natu-
ral plant hormones that act as an-
tioxidants and have been linked to
many human health benefits includ-
ing the easing of menopause symp-
toms, protection against prostate
problems, better bone health and
even a reduction in heart disease
and cancer risks.
Many people assume that soy-
milk has less calcium than cow’s
milk, which is true—in its pure
form, soymilk has only a sixth of
the calcium of an equal amount of
cow’s milk. But producers address
this problem by simply fortifying
soymilks with calcium to equal the
amount in cow’s milk. And studies
have shown that most people’s bod-
ies absorb 75 percent more calcium
from soymilk than from cow’s milk.
But while the health benefits of
soymilk are substantial, it may not
be for everyone. Dr. Joseph Mercola,
who runs one of the most highly
trafficked natural health websites,
warns that soymilk can inhibit thy-
roid performance, so those with pre-
existing thyroid issues might want
to avoid it. Also, some researchers
have shown that soymilk can inhibit
the body’s absorption of protein and
minerals in some cases.
Other tasty and healthy alterna-
tives to cow’s milk include those
made from rice, almonds, oats—and
even hemp. According to the health
and wellness website,
almond milk is rich in magnesium,
potassium, manganese, copper,
the antioxidants vitamin E and
selenium, and calcium and “may
be one of the more nutritious milk
October 2008
Tasty and healthy alternatives to cow’s milk include those made from soy, rice, almonds,
oats -- and even hemp. (Photo by cafemama, courtesy Flickr)
alternatives on the market.”
Almond milk is very low in
calories and contains no choles-
terol. Rice milk, Sixwise reports, is
mainly a source of carbohydrates,
and should not be considered a
nutritional replacement for cow’s
milk, though it is “a useful replace-
ment for milk for taste and cooking
Hemp milk, which is made from
the seeds of hemp plants but con-
tains none of the psychoactive ingre-
dients in marijuana, can be a good
source of protein, calcium, omega
fatty acids and other vitamins and
minerals. Another good alternative
is oat milk, which is high in fiber,
free of cholesterol and lactose, and
contains vitamin E, folic acid, and
other healthy elements and miner-
CONTACTS: Dr. Joseph Mercola,; Sixwise, www.
Dear EarthTalk: I’ve read that
household cleaners contain cancer-
causing toxic ingredients. What
should I do, then, to keep my house
clean but also safe for my kids? --
Christine Stewart, via e-mail
While much of the research is
mixed or inconclusive, a variety of
human and animal studies have
linked chemicals common in house-
hold cleaning products with a wide
range of health risks.
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