This week, Jill answers a listener question about milk, whether it’s bad for kidney stones, and if you can get calcium from homemade milk alternatives.
Have a question? Leave us a voicemail at (773) 789-8763.
Stop Kidney Stones Once and For All
- Kidney Stone Prevention Course
- Kidney Stone Diet Meal Plans
- Safe Snacks and Desserts Ebook
- 24 Hour Urine Collection Analysis
- Private Coaching
Kidney Stone Diet Resources
Find more episodes of the Kidney Stone Diet Podcast here.
Who is Jill Harris?
Jill is a nurse and health coach that specializes in educating patients on kidney stone prevention. For more than 20 years she’s helped patients understand that kidney stones can be prevented with the right treatment plan. It’s one thing to be told to lower oxalate or drink more water, but HOW do you do it? That’s where she comes in. Through the educational resources at kidneystonediet.com, stone formers can learn everything they need to know to significantly lower new stone risk.
Who is Jeff Sarris?
Jeff’s co-founder of SPYR, a branding agency based out of Chicago, where he and his business partner Dave help awesome people like Jill create online platforms that make an impact. He’s also a certified health coach, Executive Producer of the Netflix documentary Minimalism, and host of the Starting Now podcast.
Love this episode? There’s more!
Jeff Sarris: Welcome back to the Kidney Stone Diet podcast, the show about reducing your kidney stone risk and living your best life. I’m your host and fellow student, Jeff Sarris.
Jill Harris: I’m Jill Harris, your kidney stone prevention nurse.
Jeff Sarris: I always like when we get a little sneak peek of the glasses. I like how you look in them. They look good!
Jill Harris: Well, I’m gonna wear them. I’m very excited because I always got the readers like at Walgreens or whatever, but they never worked for me. I’m like, “What’s wrong with me?” So I went to the eye doctor and he’s like, “You have an astigmatism.” So you have to get prescription ones for $5,000. “Oh, okay.” They’re not $5,000, but they’re more than the $19 at Walgreens. Jeff, I’m so happy with them because I can see my words. So I’m just like, I’m happy to have them. I didn’t even know that!
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, again, it’s like checking in with our baseline. Like, your baseline was a certain thing. You didn’t know there was a way to resolve it, with a little more money, unfortunately. But, at the same time, it improves your life. So it’s worth it.
Jill Harris: Jeff, my answer is always like, “Well, I guess I’m old now. So this is what it is.” There’s always a fix. That’s what I have learned in my old age. There’s always a solution.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, but so should we dive into this week’s voicemail? So this is from Mary. I zoomed forward a little just because she left her number. When you guys call in, we love getting your name and where you’re from. You don’t have to leave her your number or anything, just because we don’t want to put you on blast ever. But we really appreciate everyone who’s been calling in! So, we’ll get right to Mary’s question.
Should we be consuming milk?
Listener Voicemail: I have a dietitian I’ve been seeing and she told me a few months back that nobody should drink milk. That milk, in general, is really bad for the stomach and, especially people that have a very sensitive stomach like me. So I quit drinking milk and I’m trying to make it myself with all the different milk products that are out there. Of course, we can’t drink the almond and some of the other things, so I’m racking my brain trying to figure out how to do this so that I can get enough calcium in the milk because I was drinking milk regularly. What do you say about that, about people that have a sensitive stomach not drinking milk at all? Thank you!
Jill Harris: Oh, Mar, Mar! I think it’s a great question. So, Mary says that her dietitian told her that nobody should be drinking milk. So, I don’t agree with that. I don’t think that nobody should be drinking milk, first of all. I do not think that. The end. But, for Mary, listen, if you can tolerate–there’s no good research that says milk’s going to give you anything. So, again, if you can tolerate milk and you enjoy it, please get your calcium from milk. I am not a believer of that. But, for Mar, she says that it bothers her stomach. She should absolutely not drink milk. Absolutely not. And I do have a lot of patients that come to me and say, “I’m trying to drink the milk, Jill, but I have a casein allergy, which is a protein found in milk. I’m lactose intolerant.” I’m like, “Oh my god! Do not drink milk! That’s terrible for you!”
Meaning if you don’t feel good drinking it–and Mary’s one of those people that it bothers her stomach. So, Mary, there’s great research and we have the latest research at kidneystonediet.com that a bunch of great nephrologists did on oxalate and nut milks. And, yes, almond milk was high, so we we advise not to be drinking almond milk or cashew milk. But there’s other milks that you can have that you do not have to be, you know, putting all those nuts in a sack and squeezing, squeezing milk out of it, so you make it at home. There’s unsweetened coconut milk. These are all things found in your milk section, but it will be under the substitute milks. So, where you would find almond milk, you can also find these milk substitutes. Unsweetened coconut milk, I like that. I use a brand called Silk.
I like it only because–I also drink regular milk, lactose-free milk. I drink that as well. But I look at my milk a few different ways. If I’m watching calories, if I’ve had enough calories that day, I will drink my Silk milk for the calcium because it’s only 30 calories a cup, as opposed if I’m having–but, but, but it has no protein in it. So if I have a day where I’m like cool on calories, but I’m looking at my protein for my fitness goals, then I’m going to drink regular milk. You may say, “That’s all too much for me, sissy.” I’m just telling you what I do. You do not have to do that.
Here are some milk alternatives!
I’m just saying, each of these milks that I’m going to list definitely are lower oxalate, but some of them may not have protein in it. Some of them may be higher in calcium. All of them, I suggest you do lower sugar. So you could use pea milk. You could do flax milk. You could do macadamia milk. You could do coconut milk, oat milk. You see that study, Jeff? Are you looking at it? Is there anything on there that I’m not saying?
Jeff Sarris: Let me just scroll down here. I think you covered most. There’s enriched rice milk on there. Yeah, coconut, flax, dairy, macadamia, oat, hemp, soy, hazelnut, cashew, and almond are all what’s on this list and gives the stats, the data around where they fall on the spectrum. You can look at that and see because, obviously, almond is at the very top and not advised, but then coconut is the very bottom and dramatically different in terms of what you can expect.
Jill Harris: Yes, and with these nut milks, too, they have a supplement added to them. So we know if we take calcium supplement pills, that that has shown that it can increase your stone risk. So we advise not taking pills. Now, calcium supplements in pill form. Now, bariatric patients, they will be on calcium supplements and they must be–they will be–their doctors will tell them because they have malabsorption issues. So, that doesn’t go for everybody. Bariatric patients must take calcium supplements. In most cases, their doctor will put them on them. Now when we’re taking the nut milks, too, I mean, we really should be taking those with meals because it is supplemented, right? I wouldn’t just say drink your coconut milk, like straight out of the container without having food to help absorb that supplement, as well.
I think it’s easier absorbed by those milks, so I don’t have an issue with it. Probably most of my patients are on nut milks, not almond, but the non-dairy milks for their calcium and they all keep their stone risk at bay. So, I have no problem with them. I do use–sometimes, I use pea milk. Sometimes, I use coconut milk and then I use lactose-free regular milk, like I said, depending on my protein needs. So Mary, don’t drive yourself nuts. You can definitely have the milk substitutes that are available in your grocers refrigerated section. Go to kidneystonediet.com so you can see the study and the oxalate level for the various nut milks, and oatmeal, and flax. It’s not just nut milks. It’s all kinds of different alternative milks.
Also, for people who are going on vacation because people will say, “Jill, I’m going on vacation. What am I supposed to carry a cooler with me?!” They also have those types of milk in the shelf section. They’re just sitting there. They don’t have to be refrigerated. So, look at alternative milks on the shelves inside your grocery store, too. They do not have to be refrigerated. A lot of my patients take those with them on vacation. So, it’s an excellent question. You do not have to be making your own milk. You do not have to drink regular milk. You can also drink Tropicana 50/50. I, specifically, talk about that brand of orange juice because it will have less sugar and it’s a good calcium source in there. For people who do not tolerate milk, do not use it. There are other sources available for you to still get your calcium.
But, if you can tolerate milk, I am not a believer at all that milk is, again, vilified. You can absolutely have milk. I know vegans will say, “Well, we don’t drink any baby–We’re the only species that are drinking milk after work five years old,” or whatever. Listen, people, you can drink milk. Everyone is entitled to their beliefs, but I don’t like this “all-fits-one solution.” I’m not a fan of it. I think it confuses people. If you can tolerate dairy, it doesn’t bother you, and there’s no medical professional saying it’s not right for you, I don’t think a blanket statement that nobody should drink milk, I don’t agree with that. That’s my thought. You can definitely bang me up in the comments about it, but I don’t believe that at all. Many, many of my patients love milk, enjoy it, and it causes them no issues at all. And it’s a great natural calcium source. So, that’s where I stand on it.
If you make your own milk, you might be missing out on calcium!
Jeff Sarris: And I just wanted to throw it out there, just to reiterate, naturally, the calcium isn’t coming from most of the nuts and everything that you’re creating the milk from. So, if you are making it at home, you’re actually not replacing the calcium because the calcium was, as you said, added to the milk, or it’s added to the orange juice, and things like that. So, it is really important. We can, again, think like, “Oh, I can replace it with oat milk. That will be an amazing way to replace it. I’ll make it at home. I know exactly what’s in it.” But then, suddenly, we don’t know what we don’t know that that oat milk doesn’t have the calcium that a store-bought oat milk has because it was not added to it when we made it ourselves.
So I think just to reiterate that just so there’s no confusion there. Yeah, I think it’s important to recognize because we’re all trying to take the steps that are best for us, best for the planet, best for our perspective on whatever it is, if it is, again, like we’re not going to consume animal products, that’s definitely a path you can take. But we just need to know that, if it’s calcium, to make sure we’re actually getting the calcium and not making the assumptions that we are.
Jill Harris: Yes, and thank you for chiming in with that one! Again, I do want to say, you know, our whole platform is about you need to do that lifestyle that works for you. But I also believe that we shouldn’t be dogmatic about it because then it’s confusing other people that are able to have other products, or want them, or whatever. So there can sometimes be an elitist mindset like, “My lifestyle is better than your lifestyle,” and when people are trying to eat healthier, there’s a huge learning curve. That’s people’s opinions and that may not work for the person you’re talking to.
So, you know, I just want everyone to be comfortable and enjoy the food they eat. A lot of doctors will say, “You formed a stone. You must turn vegan now.” That’s just unnecessary. You do not. I mean, so many of my patients are vegans and vegetarians and they have stones. So, again, we have to be careful about the advice we give people because everybody is so very different. So, you know, Mary cannot drink milk, but maybe Sammy can and really enjoys it. And now Sammy is being told they should never have milk again. It just doesn’t make sense to me. That’s my opinion and I’ll leave it at that.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, and I know, we don’t normally do specific recommendations, but you did mention the 50/50 and Silk. How do you feel about in the description putting just a few of the products that you feel positive about? We’ll just link to them in the description, just the Tropicana 50/50, the Silk coconut.
Jill Harris: These are products I’ve used. I never suggest anything I don’t use. My patients use the Trop 50/50. I have used the Silk unsweetened coconut milk. I have used the Good Karma flax milk, unsweetened, and I have used the Ripple unsweetened pea milk. The pea milk will have some protein in it, too. So those are the ones I use, but we can list all the ones in that study, too, if you’d like.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, just to make it as easy as possible. Those links will be below.
Jill Harris: Some people are like, “Jill, take a picture with your phone.” They want to see what the image looks like so they find it faster at the grocery store. So, even if you put a link there, then they could see the image, and they’ll be able to see it a lot quicker.
Jeff Sarris: That was a great question. I think a really valuable one and if you’re out there, and you have a question, the number is 773-789-8763. And we will feature you on a future episode. You can find all the resources, everything we talked about, the free email newsletter, the premium stuff, the course, and the meal plans, or just the little handout for having a better doctor’s visit and things like that all at kidneystonediet.com.
Jill Harris: Oh, and that snack book!
Jeff Sarris: Yes, we haven’t talked about that in a little bit!
Jill Harris: Yeah, so there’s a snack book with 30 kidney stone-safe recipes for snacks. Think low-oxalate protein bars, people! We’re giving it away with the meal plan service or you can get the snack whoozy just by itself for $9.95. It’s ridiculous! Thirty recipes, it’s a downloadable eBook. All the protein, all the salt, sugar, all oxalates are all figured out for you. Tasty desserts, most of them under 200 calories because I like lower calorie snacks. It’s a great resource for people who are like, “What? I got no snacks anymore?!”
And, again, the low oxalate protein bars, I think it took me months to figure that out, so I’m really proud of that one. There’s some really good, cool recipes in there that you can feel safe eating, but also enjoy eating. You gotta like what you’re eating. So, 30 recipes for the snack book, and you can get it free if you join the meal plan, and if you don’t want the meal plan, you can just get the snack book by itself for $10. There you go.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, absolutely. So with that, we will see you guys next week.
Jill Harris: Thanks, Mar!