Many of us with gut issues have an intolerance to lactose, or we simply want an alternative to milk that is better for our health. Coconut everything is the flavour of the year and coconut oil, which is found in the milk, has many wonderful health benefits. Many of us turn to this dairy substitute for just these reasons but is that the right decision?
Benefits for your gut:
Antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial it helps to destroy the bad bacteria and improves the good bacteria in your microbiome.
Helps prevent stomach ulcers and ulcerative colitis.
Helps the body to absorb nutrients.
Easy to digest so reduces the load on the gall bladder and the pancreas.
Sounds pretty good right? Yes, it is, and I would encourage you to use coconut oil daily in your cooking and you can even eat it right off the spoon. I love pouring it on my yoghurt, it goes hard just like the chocolate “Ice Magic” but tastes better and is better for you.
What’s the problem then?
As with everything that becomes popular, the major food companies and supermarkets get on the bandwagon and produce “coconut based” products with fancy sounding labels making them sound wonderful like “Inner Goodness Your Trusted Alternative”, when in reality they are anything but. I did a review of the major players (Vitasoy, So Good, Sanitarium, Australia’s Own Organic, Inner Goodness) in the coconut milk market and found that all of them, except for one, had additives that caused digestive problems that were only there to make the product taste better or to stop the fat from separating. The main reason for this was because none of them were made with coconut milk but with coconut cream which was then watered down.
What should I look out for?
Read the labels. Sadly, you need to do this every time you buy the product. The Aldi brand changed its ingredients quiet significantly in just two weeks.
Inulin. They use this to add a sweet taste and to improve the mouth feel, again because the product is watered down. The known side effects are bloating, pain, flatulence, diarrhoea, cramps and constipation.
Additive 322. Lecithin which can be extracted from either soy or eggs and is highly reactive in some people.
Guar Gum. Used in place of inulin with the same range of potential side effects.
Which brand should I buy?
As I am writing this the best brand is Pureharvest Organic Coco Quench with no additives or preservatives. I have been buying this milk for some time and the ingredients haven’t changed but that is no guarantee for the future.
In conclusion read your labels, understand what the additives are and why they are there, and more importantly do we need them?