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Why did almond milk make me sick?


Almond milk has become a popular plant-based milk alternative for those looking to avoid dairy. It’s often seen as a healthy option, as it’s low in calories and fat compared to cow’s milk. However, some people find that drinking almond milk doesn’t agree with their digestive system and can cause stomach pain, bloating, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal issues.

There are a few potential reasons why almond milk may cause stomach upset in some individuals:

You Have a Tree Nut Allergy

Almond milk is made from almonds, which are tree nuts. If you have an allergy to tree nuts, your body may react to the almond proteins in almond milk. Food allergies can cause digestive symptoms like nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.

An almond allergy is one of the most common food allergies. It’s estimated that 1-2% of children and adults have an almond allergy. Even small amounts of almonds can trigger a reaction in sensitive individuals.

If you suspect you may have an almond allergy, it’s important to avoid almond milk and other products containing almonds and see an allergist for testing. They can do a skin prick test or blood test to confirm an almond allergy.

It Contains Carrageenan

Many brands of almond milk contain an additive called carrageenan, which is derived from seaweed and used to thicken and stabilize the milk.

Carrageenan is a highly controversial food additive. While some claim it is safe, others argue that it can cause inflammation, gastrointestinal issues, and other health problems in some individuals.

According to the Cornucopia Institute, animal studies have linked carrageenan to intestinal inflammation, ulcerations, and even colon cancer. The World Health Organization has classified degraded forms of carrageenan as “possible human carcinogens”.

So if you experience stomach problems after drinking almond milk, carrageenan may be the culprit. Try switching to a brand that doesn’t contain carrageenan or making your own almond milk at home without this additive.

Too Much Fiber

Almond milk contains a type of fiber called cellulose gum, which is added to thicken it and keep the almond milk from separating.

Some brands add a significant amount of cellulose gum, providing 2-3 grams of fiber per cup. While fiber is healthy, increasing your intake too quickly can discomfort.

Too much fiber from cellulose gum could cause gas, bloating, diarrhea, and other temporary digestive issues in some people as their body adjusts. This may be particularly true if you’re not used to consuming a high fiber diet.

If you suspect the fiber in almond milk is causing problems, try transitioning to it slowly or choosing a brand with less fiber. You may tolerate small amounts better.

Contains Prebiotics

Many almond milk brands also contain prebiotic fiber from inulin or chicory root. Prebiotics act as food for the healthy probiotic bacteria in your gut.

While prebiotics are beneficial compounds, they can also cause excess gas and bloating when introduced to your diet. Your body needs time to adjust to them.

If your almond milk contains inulin or chicory root fiber, start with small servings and gradually work your way up. This allows the bacteria in your digestive system to acclimate.

You’re Lactose Intolerant

Lactose intolerance is the inability to fully digest lactose, the main carbohydrate found in dairy milk.

When lactose isn’t properly broken down, it can cause gas, diarrhea, nausea, pain, and other symptoms. Even though almond milk is dairy-free, some brands add small amounts of milk or milk derivatives like casein to improve texture and taste.

If your almond milk contains any dairy ingredients, it could be causing problems if you have lactose intolerance. Be sure to read labels carefully and choose a vegan almond milk without any added milk products.

Has Added Sugars

Flavored and sweetened varieties of almond milk often contain added sugars like cane sugar, brown rice syrup, etc. Consuming too much added sugar can contribute to digestive issues in some people.

Bacteria and yeasts that live naturally in your gut thrive on sugar. An excess of sugar from sweetened almonds milk could allow yeasts like candida to overgrow, potentially causing cramps, bloating, diarrhea and other symptoms.

Stick to unsweetened almond milk or almond milk with no more than 1-2 grams of sugar per serving. Steer clear of the flavored or sweetened varieties to avoid tummy troubles.

You’re Sensitive to Almond Milk Specifically

While almond milk is generally well-tolerated, some individuals seem to be extra sensitive to it, even when they can digest other plant-based milks without issue.

The proteins or compounds found in almonds may irritate their digestive systems for unknown reasons, resulting in stomach upset after drinking almond milk.

If this applies to you, avoid almond milk and choose a different milk substitute, like oat milk, soy milk, coconut milk, etc. Pay attention to your body’s signals and determine which milk alternative agrees with your system.

How to Prevent Almond Milk Digestive Problems

If you want to enjoy almond milk without an upset stomach, here are some tips:

– Choose unsweetened or lightly sweetened almond milk with minimal added sugars
– Avoid brands with carrageenan – opt for ones stabilized with guar gum instead
– Pick an almond milk with 2g of fiber or less per serving
– Gradually increase your almond milk intake to allow your body to adjust
– Read labels carefully and avoid any almond milk with dairy ingredients if lactose intolerant
– Be cautious if you have a tree nut allergy – almond milk may trigger reactions
– Try different milk substitutes if almond milk seems to uniquely bother your stomach

When to See a Doctor

In most cases, almond milk causing stomach discomfort or diarrhea will resolve on its own within a day or two after stopping intake.

However, see your doctor if you experience:

– Severe vomiting, diarrhea or dehydration after drinking almond milk
– Intense abdominal pain, cramping or bloating
– Constipation lasting longer than 3 days
– Signs of an allergic reaction like throat swelling, hives or wheezing
– Digestive symptoms that last more than 2 weeks after discontinuing almond milk

These may be signs of a more serious medical condition requiring treatment. Your doctor can help diagnose the cause and provide appropriate care.

The Bottom Line

Almond milk is a popular dairy-free milk, but some people find it upsets their stomach. Reasons for digestive issues after drinking almond milk can include:

– Having an undiagnosed almond allergy
– Carrageenan additive causing inflammation
– Too much fiber overwhelming your system
– Added prebiotic fibers leading to gas and bloating
– Unidentified lactose intolerance
– Excess added sugars feeding gut bacteria
– Personal sensitivity to almonds

By choosing carrageenan-free and lightly sweetened almond milk, starting slowly, and paying attention to your body’s signals, you may be able to incorporate almond milk without adverse effects. But if stomach problems persist, consider trying a different plant-based milk or speaking to your doctor.


Source Link
Cleveland Clinic–tree-nut-almond
Cornucopia Institute
International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders


Almond milk is a popular plant-based milk, but it can cause GI issues in some people due to potential allergies, additives, fiber content, and other factors. Pay attention to your body’s signals and adjust your almond milk intake accordingly. Speak to your doctor if stomach problems are severe or ongoing after discontinuing almond milk. With some care in selection and consumption, most people can enjoy almond milk without adverse effects.