“Milk is good for the body.” I’m sure many of you remember seeing commercials and/or billboards with this National Dairy Council slogan touting the health benefits of milk. Recently, I have seen commercials about dairy products that help with weight loss. In addition, mothers all over the world emphasize letting their children drink a lot of milk in order to grow up strong and healthy. So if milk is so good for you, why is it banned from the Candida diet?

The Candida diet is the cornerstone of treatment for a medical condition known as candidiasis. This condition is characterized by an overgrowth of yeast (Candida) in the intestinal system. External factors such as overuse of antibiotics, which kill all gut bacteria and a diet high in processed/sugary foods, which feed Candida, contribute to causing an imbalance in the gut system. When the natural balance of the intestinal system is disturbed, Candida grows and becomes an opportunistic microorganism that causes problems throughout the body. The Candida Diet strives to restore balance to the intestinal system by cutting off Candida’s food supply. It is the sugar content of milk that worries the Candida dieter and thus why it is banned from the diet. Lactose, the sugar found in milk, is also difficult for many people to digest and can cause gastrointestinal upset that only worsens candidiasis.

It is unfortunate that milk can worsen candidiasis because milk is a great source of so many vitamins that are essential for optimal health. I don’t know if there is a comparable natural food source out there that can provide as complete a source of calcium and vitamin D as cow’s milk does. So what should a Candida dieter do with milk? We certainly don’t want to miss out on these nutrients while trying to restore our gut balance. Fortunately, due to today’s common occurrence of lactose intolerance and food allergies, there is a wide variety of milk alternatives available that are okay for the Candida diet. Many of these milk alternatives are fortified with levels of calcium and vitamin D comparable to cow’s milk.

Soy milk seems to be one of the most used milk alternatives. With brands like Silk right next to cow’s milk in the grocery store, most of us have noticed this heart-healthy milk alternative. I use unsweetened soy milk a lot on the Candida diet. It has a similar consistency to cow’s milk and behaves as such in recipes. However, soy is one of the top eight allergens, so it may not be suitable for everyone.

Almond milk is another popular milk alternative. It is ideal for people who cannot use soy due to sensitivity or allergy. I have not used almond milk because both of my children are highly allergic to nuts. However, I have heard good things about almond milk in terms of both taste and ease of use. Almonds are tree nuts, so they are also considered one of the top eight allergens and can cause problems for some.

Rice milk is a good milk alternative. This is what I use for my children because they are allergic, to varying degrees, to cow’s milk, soy and tree nuts. Rice milk is great in cereal, but only mediocre for cooking. The consistency is very watery, so it cannot be used effectively in some recipes. It’s also very sweet, even when you use the unsweetened version. Rice milk is also high in carbohydrates, so it may not be ideal for Candida dieters, especially in the early stages of the diet.

Hemp milk seems to be the new kid on the block but I haven’t used it yet. Contrary to what it sounds like, it is not illegal, nor does it contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the active chemical in marijuana. From what I’ve read, hemp milk has a creamy consistency and works well in cooking.

When choosing a milk alternative, make sure it is unsweetened and does not contain banned additives.

For more information on the Candida Diet visit Yeast Free Living.

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