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The Best Milk Substitutes For Healthy Blood Sugar

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Milk is a must for topping off your morning cereal, creating clouds in your coffee, and slurping down a mouthful of peanut butter. However, dairy has a dubious reputation. Some of us are old enough to recall all those tales about how drinking milk will keep us healthy and strengthen our bones, among other things. However, there has recently been some discussion about this concept if you have diabetes. This traditional beverage contains carbohydrates, which might alter your blood sugar levels. As a result, many individuals are starting to eat a plant-based diet or continue using dairy substitutes.

Tracking your liquid and food intake with a HealthifyPro 2.0 BIOS can help determine if milk intake increases blood glucose levels disproportionately. A common mistake is to replace animal milk with nut milk or soy milk without considering the quantity. It is always a good idea to check with your nutritionist before adding a copious amount of full-fat plant-based dairy to your diet. With the help of HealthifyPRO 2.0, the HealthifyMe coaches can help you create better, more individualised diet programs based on real-time data and AI support. The coaches study the trend in blood glucose fluctuations over a stipulated period. As a result, the dietary interventions are unique to you and designed specifically for your needs.

Is Milk Beneficial for Diabetes?

Milk can benefit your health, as with most things, when you consume it in moderation. But, naturally, each person’s body reacts differently to various foods. Therefore even though it contains a significant amount of carbohydrates, there is no universally applicable rule here.

You should be aware that not all milk varieties are healthy for people with diabetes. The type of milk matters, and how much you drink also impacts your blood glucose level. Furthermore, despite its impact on glucose levels, milk has an excellent nutritional value and contains essential components for a balanced diet. For instance, diabetes increases a person’s risk for osteoporosis. Milk contains calcium which supports strong bones. Thus, it may be beneficial for a few diabetics to consume milk. 

Since cow’s milk contains carbohydrates, patients with diabetes should be careful when determining how much of it to consume. Some milk varieties, such as skimmed milk, have fewer carbohydrates which makes it a better option for people with diabetes. However, keep in mind that due to their quicker absorption, low-fat foods and drinks, such as skimmed milk, might cause an increase in blood sugar levels. Therefore, monitoring your blood glucose levels is crucial to deciding which milk is best for you. 

Milk’s Impact on Blood Sugar

Blood sugar or glucose levels are essential for maintaining optimal metabolic health. When your body breaks down carbohydrates in your digestive tract, glucose gets created. Hyperglycemia is a condition when there is an excess of glucose in your bloodstream. Conversely, hypoglycemia is a situation of insufficient amount of glucose in the body. 

The quantity of sugar consumed immediately affects blood glucose levels. Your body converts carbohydrates into sugars to be utilised as fuel by the body. The sugar found in milk is known as lactose. Your body converts lactose into glucose and galactose for energy, which raises your blood sugar levels. 

The Effect of Milk on Type 1 Diabetes

The prevalence of type 1 diabetes is higher in youngsters, and children who drink large amounts of products made from cow’s milk. The casein protein family consists of four subgroups: alpha-S1, alpha-S2, beta, and kappa caseins. Whey proteins are different from milk proteins. Therefore, one crucial environmental factor, the A1-casein protein, may account for the significant increase in type 1 diabetes cases and the different prevalence rates. 

It does not rule out the possibility of other dietary triggers, such as gluten/prolamins and bovine insulin in infant formula made from cows’ milk. As per a study, it affects the development of insulin autoantibodies in infants fed a traditional cow’s milk-based formula before three months.

The benefits of exclusive breastfeeding may be lost if the mother adds cow’s milk formula to the breast milk or if the duration of breastfeeding is too short. Children should be off cow’s milk formulas until their first birthday. Exclusive breastfeeding is considered protective against type 1 diabetes in early infancy.

The Effect of Milk on Type 2 Diabetes

There is contradictory research regarding whether consuming full-fat milk lowers the chance of developing diabetes. For instance, a study involving postmenopausal women who had not yet gotten a diabetes diagnosis had low diabetes risk due to a diet low in full-fat dairy products. However, at the same time, a study revealed that consuming more full-fat dairy products is linked to a lower risk of developing diabetes. Therefore, the researchers concluded higher full-fat dairy food intake had a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

Milk’s significance in the prevention of type-2 diabetes appears to be owing to its calcium, vitamin D, fatty acids, and proteins, though the exact pathways are still unclear. There are various considerations when deciding which sort of milk is best for someone with Type 2 diabetes. Instead of focusing on your fat intake, pay attention to your carbohydrate intake.

Dietary Guidelines For Diabetics Regarding Milk Consumption

Regardless of the type of diabetes you have, it’s crucial to control your sugar intake. Because sugar is a carbohydrate, counting carbohydrates is frequently advised for people with diabetes.

A balanced diet is crucial, containing the proper amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and fibre. It helps prevent any additional health issues from excessive cholesterol and blood sugar. One can avoid the continued development of issues like heart disease, kidney disease, etc., with a balanced diet. The secret to managing your blood sugar levels is portion control. It is crucial to consume each food category in the right amount.

High levels of triglycerides or cholesterol in the blood are typical in people with diabetes. It’s crucial to monitor your diet’s trans and saturated fat intake. Some patients with diabetes may also be more prone to bone fractures. A calcium-rich diet can help support strong bones. You can achieve this by regularly consuming milk. Including calcium-rich dairy in your diet requires some careful planning. An excellent start is to develop a meal plan, especially for people with diabetes.

Whatever you choose, consider starting each meal with 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates. This total should account for all the carbohydrates consumed from your foods that day. Then, check the food labels and choose unsweetened or low-added sugar foods.

The Best Milk Alternative For Diabetics

Here are the best milk substitutes for anyone watching their intake of carbohydrates.

Cashew Milk

One of the most straightforward milk to make at home is cashew milk, formed from a combination of cashew nuts or butter and water. The flavour is sweet, subtly nutty, creamy and rich. It has a much lower calorie count than cow’s milk, half as much fat, and much less protein and carbs. Therefore, it is a good choice for those who must watch their carb intake, such as those with diabetes, due to the low carbohydrate and sugar content.

Nutritional Facts

According to the USDA, 100 ml of cashew milk contains:

  • Energy: 10 Kcal
  • Protein: 9.42g
  • Fat: 0.83g
  • Carbohydrates: 0.83g
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Fibre: 0g
  • Calcium: 188 mg
  • Iron: 0.15mg

Hemp Milk

Cannabis sativa hemp plant seeds make hemp milk. Hemp milk has a thin, watery texture with a slightly sweet and nutty flavour. It functions well as a substitute for lighter milk and has about half the calories and protein of cow’s milk while having a similar fat level. It has far fewer carbohydrates as well. Unsweetened hemp milk is a fantastic alternative because it has a meagre carb count for people who want to reduce their carbohydrate intake. Avoid sweetened varieties if you consider this to be important.

Nutritional Facts

According to the USDA, 100 ml of hemp milk contains:

  • Energy: 33 Kcal
  • Protein: 0.83g
  • Fat: 3.3g
  • Carbohydrate: 0.42g
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Fibre: 0g
  • Calcium: 125mg
  • Iron: 0.45mg

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is made from brown coconut’s white flesh and water.

It is a more diluted variety of the kind of coconut milk with a creamy texture and a sweet but delicate coconut flavour. However, coconut milk has a third of the calories, half the fat, and much less protein and carbohydrate than cow’s milk. So it might not be the ideal choice for people who need more protein, but it would work for people who want to consume fewer carbohydrates.

In addition, over 90% of the calories in coconut milk are from saturated fat, including medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), a form of saturated fat that may aid with appetite control, weight loss, and blood cholesterol levels more than other fats as per a research.

Nutritional Facts

According to the USDA, 100 ml of coconut milk contains:

  • Energy: 150 Kcal
  • Protein: 1.67g
  • Fat: 15g
  • Carbohydrate: 1.67g
  • Sugar: 1.6g

Almond Milk

Almond milk is made using whole almonds, almond butter, and water since it is dairy-free and lacks lactose and milk protein, which some individuals must avoid. Due to its light texture and mildly sweet and nutty flavour, it can be added to coffee and tea, blended into smoothies, and substituted for cow’s milk in desserts and baked goods. It is substantially lower in protein and carbohydrates, has significantly fewer calories and fat than cow’s milk, and is a natural source of vitamin E, a class of antioxidants that help protect the body from disease-causing agents known as free radicals.

Nutritional Facts

According to the USDA, 100 ml of almond milk contains:

  • Energy: 12 Kcal
  • Protein: 0.31g
  • Fat: 0.3g
  • Carbohydrate: 0.62g
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Fibre: 0.3g
  • Calcium: 185mg
  • Iron: 0.33mg

Soy Milk

Soy milk is manufactured with either soybeans or soy protein isolate. It frequently incorporates thickeners and vegetable oils to improve taste and consistency. As a result, it usually has a mild and creamy flavour. It is a near non-dairy alternative to cow’s milk regarding nutrients. Soy Milk has around half the calories, lipids, and carbohydrates but about the same amount of protein.

It is also one of the few sources of high-quality “complete” protein derived from plants and contains all the necessary amino acids. Consuming soy products has been associated in one study with better glucose tolerance. Read the labels carefully and always choose an unsweetened variety of soy milk to avoid excessive sugar that can raise your blood sugar levels. 

Nutritional Facts

According to the USDA, 100g of soy milk contains:

  • Energy: 33kCal
  • Protein: 2.8g
  • Fat: 1.6g
  • Carbohydrate: 1.6g
  • Sugar: 0.41g
  • Fibre: 0.4g
  • Calcium: 123mg
  • Iron: 0.44mg

Flax Milk

The best source of Omega-3 is flax seeds, and a novel method to get your daily omega-3 fix is dairy-free flax milk. Calcium, protein, and vitamins K and D are added to the dairy alternative to support strong bones and teeth. Almost every recipe that asks for dairy or plant-based milk can get substituted with flax milk, including those for smoothies and baked goods. This particular milk helps individuals feel fuller for longer and has no cholesterol or lactose, which can help lower blood sugar levels.

Nutritional Facts

According to the USDA, 100ml of flax milk contains:

  • Energy: 10 Kcal
  • Protein: 0g
  • Fat: 1.04g
  • Carbohydrate: 0.42g
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Fibre: 0g
  • Calcium: 125mg
  • Iron: 0.15mg

The HealthifyMe Note

When choosing between skim and 2% milk, the most significant milk aisle decision is long gone. Alternative milk options are more plentiful than ever. Always make sure to look for something unsweetened! Always check the labels, as each type of plant-based milk has slightly different ingredients and somewhat different nutritional profiles.

Conclusion

Cow’s milk is a common food source for many people. However, there are several situations where you might need to avoid cow’s milk. In case of diabetes, it’s crucial to monitor your milk intake. Fortunately, as was already indicated, there are plenty of excellent choices. Make sure to select unsweetened products and stay away from additional sugars while making your selection. Additionally, confirm that your non-dairy milk is fortified with vitamin B12 and calcium. Finding the best replacement may take some time because of the wide variations in taste, nutrition, and price of various substitutes.

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