The gut health benefits of drinking chia milk
The culprit for your frequent stomach aches, gas, and bloating is most likely poor gut health. It has been widely reported that processed and sugary foods can cause intestinal inflammation, leading to these bothersome symptoms. But even dairy products can be difficult to digest if the lactase enzyme in your small intestine isn’t able to fully break down lactose (the sugar in milk).
Fortunately, small dietary adjustments can make a huge difference in restoring your gut function and maintaining good health for years to come. To start, consider replacing a fridge staple like whole milk with chia milk instead.
We spoke with a dietitian Wendy BazilianDrPH, RDN, to learn more about this dairy-free alternative and why it’s a gut-friendly beverage option!
What is chia milk?
As its name suggests, chia seeds are a key ingredient in this vegetable milk. Specifically, a brand like Seeds of Wellness (Buy a 6-pack on Amazon, $24.99) contains chia seed protein and chia oil. These two nutrients infuse the milk with the sweet nutty flavor of the seeds and their health benefits while keeping it smooth and creamy.
Chia seeds have amazing health benefits as they are rich in antioxidants, calcium and iron. Another benefit of regularly consuming these seeds (especially in the form of “milk”) is that they keep your gut health in top shape.
What are the gut health benefits of drinking chia milk?
Dr. Bazilian tells First for women the three qualities of this dairy-free milk that make it so good for gut health.
- This milk will not upset your digestive tract. “Chia milk is easy to digest and has no known allergenicity in humans (chia seed has not been shown to be an allergen; [it has an] extremely low risk if any) compared to other plant-based nut or soy milks or dairy products (three of nine allergens that must be listed on food labels). Chia milk has none of that,” she explains.
- It is an excellent source of omega-3s. “Uniquely, chia milk also provides plant-based omega-3 fatty acids that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties,” she notes. “Very often people who have increased inflammation or chronic inflammation have digestive issues or symptoms.”
- Unsweetened chia milk contains about 20 calories and 2 grams of fiber per one-cup serving. “Chia milk also provides fiber – unique in a plant-based milk – and the fiber is generally not ‘added fiber’ like inositol and as some people are sensitive to, but comes from the chia itself,” says -she. “[Also]chia milk provides a low-calorie, tasty way to boost hydration, which is essential for overall healthy digestion.
As you can see, this plant-based milk is a clear winner for a tasty and healthy dairy exchange in your daily meals!
How can you add this milk to your daily diet?
Chia milk is a more versatile ingredient than you might think. In fact, Bazilian notes that you can use it in many of your favorite breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes. Here are some delicious ways to add it to your diet:
- Use it to make smoothies
- Put it in soups with leeks, potatoes, corn or other complementary flavors
- Cook oatmeal or cereal in this milk when making oatmeal or porridge in the morning
- Make “beautiful” custards (vegan alternatives to ice cream) and other frozen desserts like creamy “milks”
- Include in baked goods and recipes like French toast
- Make chia puddings
- Put in toppings and sauces
- Use in mashed cauliflower or in healthier macaroni and cheese recipes
- Substitute it in mashed potatoes and other savory dishes that usually call for real milk
- Pour it as a cream in hot or iced coffee
Want to know more about other gut-friendly foods to avoid digestive upset? Check out this handy guide to 10 foods that fight constipation and improve gut health!
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