Stomach Ache After Drinking Coconut Milk? It May Not Be The Coconut!

One of the most common questions clients ask me is, “What can I put in a cup of coffee if I’m no longer using milk and sugar?”. To which I usually suggest…how about buying a better coffee that doesn’t need doctoring? Sprinkling on some cinnamon works, as does adding fresh coconut, and a very few types of homemade nut-based milks, as most commercially sold options have lots of unfavorable additives, like sugars, soy or rice milk, and stabilizers. I wasn’t too surprised when a client recently reached out with excitement to tell me she’d found coconut milk being offered at Starbucks, which she happily partook of. And then ended up with a stomach ache. She couldn’t figure it out, so we began to troubleshoot.  I’d asked her, even though I was pretty sure of what the answer would be, if she’d read the label on the coconut milk offered at the coffee shop. I had a sneaking suspicion of what it might contain, but wanted to be sure. She hadn’t checked, so the next time I popped in, I asked to see. Sure enough, there it was.  The likely culprit, carrageenan gum, may seem benign enough; after all, it’s ‘made from seaweed’ so it should be safe, right? Unfortunately, no. For many, this stabilizer (often used for the same purposes as guar and xanthan gums, which come from beans and corn, respectively) can cause GI distress in the forms of bloating, gassiness, constipation and/or diarrhea. How about some of that with your iced-latte? Stick to black coffee or espresso when you’re in the coffee shop, unless you happen to be in an indie-type store that may actually have fresh, homemade nut milk without additives. When at home, of course, you can be more creative; in a pinch you can even add some naturally dried shredded coconut, such as the Let’s Do Organic brand. For those who are Paleo, but Primal, there’s always Dave Asprey’s Bullet Proof option – which uses grass-fed butter. For me, admittedly being a coffee-snob, I’d suggest buying the best organic, fair-trade coffee you can find, upgrading to a better grinder and espresso machine and pouring yourself the most amazing ristretto with the perfect head of crema you could ever imagine. Rest assured, however, if you’ve had a ‘coconut milk’ coffee drink recently at one of the franchise coffee shops and ended up with stomach distress, it was very likely not the coconut, but the stabilizing gum that was added. Drink some water to help expedite the flushing out of the toxin from your body and you should feel normal again within a few hours.