Almond milk anyone?
I’ve been getting a lot done lately, burning through a to-do list that’s been gathering dust for the last nine months – the hole in the ceiling, the unpaid service charge, the sneakers I haven’t worn since spilling soup on them last winter – have all been attended to.
Thanks to this recent period of industry, a lot of people have been coming through my door and, each time, I forget that I haven’t got any milk in the fridge.
“Are you OK with almond milk in your tea?” I ask wincing. “I’m sorry, it’s all I’ve got.”
Both the accountant and builder finished their mug without gagging and I like to think they weren’t just being good sports. I may not have converted them to ‘dairy free’, but perhaps I planted a seed?
It is no exaggeration to say that giving up dairy is one of the hardest things to do.
Milk and other dairy products contain morphine like substances, making them irresistibly tasty:
‘Dairy cheeses are a hard habit to break due to the opiate receptors they activate in our brains,’ says oncologist Dr. Thomas Lodi.
But why would you want to ditch dairy? You might well ask.
Doesn’t it help build strong bones? Don’t you need it for calcium?
The best way to answer that question, is to look to the East.
For thousands of years the Chinese and Japanese have got by without so much as a quenelle of cream and they don’t have a higher incidence of osteoporosis or fractures.
Instead they meet their calcium needs through a plant-based diet including nuts and seeds (especially sesame seeds), green vegetables and seaweed. In fact, some types of seaweed have more calcium than cheese.
But perhaps the more profound lesson we can take from looking at population studies is the very low incidence of certain cancers in Asian countries.
According to 2008 figures (which you can view here) the incidence of breast cancer for women in:
China is 21.6 for every 100,000,
America the rate is 76
Australia it’s 84.8
UK it’s 89.1
and shockingly, in France – a country famous for it’s love affair with butter and cream – it’s 99.7.
These differences cannot be explained away by genetics, since migrational studies demonstrate that when Chinese or Japanese people move to the West the rates of breast (and prostate) cancer go up.
British scientists, Professor Jane Plant shared this information with me over a year ago, when I interviewed her for a previous post.
In 2003, Plant, caused a media sensation with the release of her book Your Life in Your Hands. After being diagnosed with breast cancer Plant underwent conventional treatment including a radical mastectomy, 35 radiotherapy treatments and twelve sessions of chemotherapy – after which, she was told she had months to live.
It was only when she decided to give up dairy that she turned her situation around. She has now been cancer free for 25 years.
In the process of writing my own book, I have heard from countless survivors who swear, up and down, that giving up dairy was the missing piece in their healing puzzle.
Indeed, many experts agree that by making this important dietary change you are giving yourself the best chance of recovery.
‘In my view anyone with cancer should give up dairy completely,’ says Dr. Patrick Kingsley, author of The New Medicine. Now retired, Dr. Kingsley treated thousands of patients at his clinic in Leicestershire, often with great success.
Making the switch
Alternative ‘milk’s – once rare as hen’s teeth – now have their own dedicated supermarket aisles. Hemp milk, rice milk, quinoa milk… the choices are endless and the health benefits manifold.
According to Christine O Brien, editor of the monthly newsletter Nutrition & Healing almond milk, a personal favourite, is ‘absolutely packed’ with nutrients: ‘It’s high in both protein and omega fatty acids, it’s high in iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium and zinc, as well as the antioxidants vitamin A and vitamin E. All this without any cholesterol or saturated fat.’
Inspired by vegetarian chef and co-author of Honestly Healthy, Natasha Corrett, I decided to start making my own almond milk last year.
To my surprise I found the homemade milk not only tasted creamier than store bought alternatives, but it also seemed to blend more easily with hot drinks. I soon stopped feeling any kind of pangs for my morning latte and over the last twelve months I have given up dairy (almost) entirely.
For her part, Mum has finally got used to drinking oolong tea; she has perfected her olive oil mash and now cooks a lot more Indian than Italian food. ‘ It means I’m eating a lot more immune boosting spices like turmeric, galangal, ginger and coriander,’ she says.
Making your own almond milk
Muslin cloth or Nut milk bag
1 cup of almonds
1 litre of water
Soak the almonds overnight in a bowl of filtered water.
Rinse the almonds then place in a high speed blender with one litre of fresh filtered water. Blend until smooth (this usually takes about one and a half minutes). Strain the contents through the muslin cloth or nut milk bag.
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