Until about a month ago, pouring milk into my cereal or cup of coffee has always been an unconscious choice since childhood. Although I am not lactose intolerant or allergic to milk, I could feel my oily and sensitive skin get inflamed after only taking a few sips of dairy milk. As I searched high and low for dairy-free alternatives, it soon became a no-brainer I should make the switch to organic unsweetened soy milk, for my health’s sake.

My Pit Stop To Almond Milk On The Road To Soy Milk

My decision to make the switch from cow’s milk to soy milk was not based on a whim. Originally, before dipping my taste buds into a nice, cold glass of soy milk, I tried the popularly acclaimed health food, almond milk. A trip to my local supermarket resulted in the purchase of White Wave Silk Pure Almond Milk Vanilla, which was supposed to lead me toward a healthier road as I carried the half gallon all the way back home.

From the moment I poured the almond milk into a glass and the tip of my tongue felt the thin texture with a hint of vanilla, I immediately gulped it down altogether. Its watery consistency and very bitter taste left me much disappointed. I soon realized I could not go through with this switch anymore.

As I ruminated about another dairy-free alternative, I once more visited my local supermarket and saw West Soy’s Organic Unsweetened Plain Soy Milk. My mother had previously raved about this product, telling me I would like its smooth and creamy texture, not to mention its delicious taste. My first sip of organic soy milk would not become my last, after all: Mother knows best. Before I knew it, I quickly replaced regular milk with organic soy milk when eating cereal and when ordering coffee at various coffee shops.

My effort to strictly drink soy milk and avoid dairy milk was a challenge to follow through with for the last month. Bouts of forgetfulness were very common as I would catch myself pouring dairy milk — which my parents still used — in my cereal. Moreover, my too frequent trips to coffee shops like Starbucks and Au Bon Pain soon turned into tests, as I had to specify to the barista to use organic soy milk in my beverages. This became a problem when neither of these shops were open, and most of the coffee spots in New York City had only slim milk, half and half, or whole milk. Drinking black coffee was the next best thing.

Soy Milk vs. Cow’s Milk: Ingredients

The debate between which is healthier, soy milk or cow milk, is ongoing, as doctors have both praised and criticized the two. Soy milk has 80 calories, less than a gram of saturated fat, no cholesterol, just 1 gram of sugar, and 7 grams of protein per 8-oz. serving, according to the USDA. However, one percent cow’s milk has approximately 30 percent more calories, three times as much saturated fat, 12 milligrams of cholesterol, 13 grams of sugar, and about the same amount of protein. Both glasses of milk contain 300 milligrams of calcium.

In comparison to cow’s milk, soy milk is a much healthier alternative. Casein — the protein found in dairy milk — helps cows develop huge bones and can be a strong enough binder that has been used as an ingredient in glue. “Because we don’t have enough of the enzymes in our bodies to break this down, it ends up causing digestive issues, bloating, and mucus,” said Jenny Giblin, a therapist, yoga instructor, and nutrition coach, to Medical Daily. Moreover, a strong link has been established between casein intake and the promotion of cancer cell growth.

“Organic soy milk is always a better option than any type of dairy milk, so if it is a choice go for that,” Giblin said. Soy milk contains no cholesterol, is better tolerated, with no bloating, breakouts, and is comprised of plant protein, making it an excellent vegetarian source. Relying on soy beverages as a calcium source, like I do, with the exception of orange juice, can be risky. Soy is high in phytic acid that binds with calcium in the body and can potentially decrease calcium absorption.

Dr. Kathy Gruver, a natural health consultant, author, and TV host of The Alternative Medicine Cabinet, told Medical Daily, although soy milk contains vitamins that are needed, it can be dangerous for young boys and women. “Soy is a phytoestrogen and in my opinion, not healthy for young boys and women who might be at risk for estrogen positive breast cancer," she said. It is advised to avoid soy as much as possible, especially its organic fermented forms.

The soy milk I have been drinking is made with whole, organic soy beans, and it’s not sweetened, making it a better healthy food choice. However, I do consume it in moderation, having at most three cups of soy milk a week. Milk that is made with soy protein isolate, or has added sugar, even if it’s from a “natural” source like evaporated sugar cane, is not healthy. This contains highly processed protein that can enter your system and wreak havoc on your body. Not all soy milk is created equal, so it’s best to stick with organic for healthier and better results.

Soy Milk Benefits: Body, Skin, And Hair

My month-long endeavor with organic soy milk has had some notable effects on my body. After I eat cereal, I do not feel or see inflammation of the skin, nor do I feel sluggish. The amount of protein in this dairy-free beverage helped strengthen my hair, making it grow out healthier and shinier. Protein repairs split ends, which has been most helpful to me, since I use a hair straightener at least once a week. My hair continues to experience a healthy growth.

I have seen less breakouts on my oily and sensitive skin since I started drinking organic soy milk. My skin tissues feel tighter and firmer. Unlike soy milk, cow’s milk contains an abundance of the growth hormone IGF-1, which tends to cause inflammation, which eventually lead to acne, according to a study published in the journal Nutrients. Dairy can cause the skin to produce excess sebum oil, leading to clogged pores, more acne, and provides a breeding ground for the P. acnes bacterium that feeds on the sebum and causes further inflammation.

Drinking organic unsweetened soy milk has provided me with several benefits for my body, skin, and hair, and my overall wellbeing. Although access to soy milk, specifically organic soy milk, may not be within my reach all the time, I will continue to make a conscientious effort to incorporate it into my diet in moderation. If you have had similar experiences with cow’s milk as I have, I suggest making the switch, but always consult with your doctor if you suffer from any condition.