Do you go by the motto “everything in moderation”? What about trans fats, GMOs and gut-ruining carrageenan? These nasties aren’t safe to consume in any quantity! Yet millions of us are pouring them into our coffee every morning.
That’s right — that innocent, sweet-looking coffee creamer is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. But it’s found in the dairy case next to the milk and cream, so it’s just flavored milk, right? Wrong!
Those tasty and tempting creamers may make your coffee taste like dessert, but they contain ingredients which are likely to cause major issues for your health.
This is a commonly overlooked product, with many health-conscious people not thinking twice about adding it to the grocery cart. Maybe this is the last “treat” you’re holding onto after giving up gluten, candy, chips, etc. There are even organic versions, which trick us into thinking they are healthy! Either way, it’s just a little bit in the morning coffee after all — but eventually you consume the whole container!
So why is it so important to avoid anything called creamer, whitener, or milk product? Here are seven compelling reasons:
Sugar & corn syrup: We know that sugar is not good for us. It is addictive and encourages metabolic and hormonal changes that set us up for diabetes. It prevents the absorption of minerals from nutritious foods and even causes inflammation, which contributes to all manner of chronic diseases. Even worse though is the fact that most sweetening agents found in coffee creamers are made from high fructose corn syrup or corn syrup solids. These ingredients are derived from genetically modified corn, which is then extensively processed to make a cheap sweetener that is added to a shocking number of processed food products.
High fructose corn syrup is metabolized much faster than regular sugar and puts its burden mainly on the liver. This can result in inflammation and liver toxicity. It’s also worth mentioning that fructose usually gets metabolized straight into stored fat. If you want to become obese and up your chances of getting any major chronic disease, consume more high fructose corn syrup!
Other sweetening agents used in creamers are also problematic — like aspartame and sucralose.
Hydrogenated oils: We spend a lot of time talking about dietary fat and why it is not the scary villain we have believed it to be over the last few decades. Naturally occurring, minimally-processed fats are safe, delicious and nutritious! However, hydrogenated oils — also known as trans fats — are none of those things.
These toxic fats are squeezed out of things like palm kernels, corn, cotton seeds and soybeans using high heat, high pressure and solvent chemicals. The oil is then injected with a metal such as nickel, platinum or aluminum, which forces the molecules to rearrange themselves and allow extra hydrogen molecules to be tacked on. This results in a fat which has a desirable texture and longer shelf life.
The ability of a product to remain shelf-stable is ideal for food manufacturers to make greater profits — they don’t have to worry about putrefaction! But do you really want to feed your body something that can’t go off? In fact, the molecular structure of a hydrogenated oil is just one molecule away from plastic!
It’s easy to imagine how the body suffers when it is forced to process this unnatural substance. Extensive scientific research has confirmed that the consumption of trans fats leads to clogged arteries, higher “bad” cholesterol, and lowered “good” cholesterol. All of these factors contribute to some of the conditions that top the “causes of death” list, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Sodium caseinate: Here is another dirty trick played by the manufacturers of coffee creamer products. The package often says “non-dairy” on the front, yet sodium caseinate is dairy-derived. True, the ingredient is so extensively processed that it is no longer legally considered a dairy product, but nevertheless it contains the protein that so many people struggle to digest in milk: the casein. Although many people believe they are avoiding allergenic dairy by choosing to use coffee creamer, it may not be safe.
Flavoring agents: This includes both natural and artificial flavors. While “natural flavor” sounds perfectly safe, it doesn’t mean that the flavor is actually derived from the original source. For example, “natural” vanilla flavoring often does not come from vanilla beans, but rather from castoreum, a sweet-smelling anal secretion of beavers!
Carrageenan: Did you know that there is seaweed in your coffee creamer? That’s right, carrageenan is a thickener made from seaweed. It gives many processed food products a creamy texture and pleasing mouthfeel. While this doesn’t seem entirely bad in itself, unfortunately carrageenan has been shown to cause intestinal permeability (i.e., leaky gut), the damage which is behind many common digestive disorders, such as colitis and irritable bowel. Animals even developed tumors during research into the consumption of carrageenan. This ingredient is definitely to be avoided.
Dipotassium phosphate: This chemical is partially why coffee creamers make coffee taste so palatable. It actually moderates the acidity of the coffee to make for a smoother drink. This means you can buy the crappiest, most toxic coffee and still find it delicious! Unfortunately this trick of the palate can result in several deleterious health effects down the road, including kidney failure, vomiting, diarrhea, asthenia (muscle weakness) and iron deficiency via decreased hemoglobin.
Sodium aluminosilicate: Found in coffee whiteners, this stuff is added to powdered products like laundry detergent to avoid caking and to keep the stuff flowing. But it contains toxic aluminum, which is linked to a dizzying range of health disorders, including organ and tissue damage, bone and gastrointestinal problems and Alzheimer’s disease. As it happens, this ingredient was also featured on an episode of the TV show Mythbusters, where it was shown to be highly flammable!
Healthy alternatives to coffee creamer
Hopefully we’ve convinced you that coffee creamers are just not worth the risk! While it’s only a small amount consumed each day, this may be the worst type of slow, chronic degradation of health that causes disease.
Luckily it’s easy to make your own delicious coffee at home, with wholesome ingredients. It may take a little more time and effort, but you will be able to drink your homemade creamer to your heart’s delight with no guilt or concern about health effects.
Start by simply warming up your dairy product or dairy alternative of choice. We recommend real cream, full-fat milk, almond milk, hemp milk or coconut milk. Making your own non-dairy milk is the best way to avoid any additives.
Warm up the base enough to dissolve your sweetener and flavor extracts of choice. We recommend maple syrup, coconut crystals or raw honey as sweeteners. Flavoring agents may include cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa powder, ginger, clove, almond extract or hazelnut spread. Be creative, and stick to natural spices and extracts!
Refrigerate the mixture in a glass jar, then add to your high-quality coffee of choice.
Stop poisoning your morning coffee with toxic creamers and whiteners, and try making your own instead! This way, you can fully enjoy all of the health benefits of coffee.
Liivi is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and is training to become a doula. She inspires women to find peace and personal power by taking control of health and fertility naturally. Liivi‘s passion is ancestral nutrition and primal lifestyle design. She and her partner Will live between Toronto, Canada and Queenstown, New Zealand.