Are Plant-Based Drinks Good for Health?

Are Plant-Based Drinks Good for Health?

The World Health Organization warns of the potential dangers of plant-based drinks, such as soy and oat milk. Although trendy, they could contribute to iodine deficiency, particularly in pregnant women.

A worrying trend, especially for pregnant women

Plant-based drinks such as soy, coconut and oat milk are becoming increasingly popular in Europe. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) warns that substituting these drinks for traditional dairy products can lead to iodine deficiency.

This trend particularly worries pregnant women, who need more iodine for healthy foetal development. The shift towards plant-based dairy consumption, particularly among women, who are already at higher risk of iodine deficiency and thyroid disease than men, is of concern for their iodine nutrition, especially in countries that rely on milk as a source of iodine, as most dairy products do not contain iodine.

The Importance of Iodized Dairy Products

Dairy products, especially those fortified with iodine, are crucial in our daily intake. In Europe, livestock consume iodine-fortified feed, which is reflected in the dairy products they produce. The WHO warns that substituting these products with plant-based alternatives can lead to iodine deficiency.

According to the WHO report, only 9% of the salt in processed food products in Germany and 34% in Switzerland is iodized.

Iodine Deficiency: Risks not to be overlooked

Beyond the visible symptom of goitre, which is a lump or enlargement seen in the front of the neck caused by an enlarged thyroid, iodine deficiency also increases the frequency of preventable thyroid disorders, such as thyroid nodules, multinodular goitre, and hyperthyroidism, especially in adults and the elderly. When left untreated, hyperthyroidism increases the risk of cardiac arrhythmia, heart failure, osteoporosis, poor pregnancy outcomes, and cognitive impairment in older adults.

There is a need for policies on the use of iodized salt in processed foods. ANSES also warns of the effects of this deficiency, particularly for pregnant women, in whom insufficient intake can disrupt the brain development of the foetus and young children.

WHO Recommendations

To avoid these risks, WHO recommends adequate consumption of iodine-rich foods, such as iodized salt and dairy products. This deficiency has economic and health costs, emphasizing the need to fortify salt and dairy substitutes with iodine.

ALSO READ: 9 Variety of Foods that Have Lower Cholesterol

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