Almond milk is a nondairy alternative to milk chosen by those suffering from lactose intolerance or a dairy allergy, vegans or people who simply prefer the taste or health benefits. Almond milk is considered safe for most people, but sensitive people might find it triggers allergies or an intolerance. Headaches could be one symptom of such a reaction.
According to Aarkstore Enterprise, a business and financial information provider, American consumption of non-dairy beverages increased substantially from 2006 to 2011, with almond milk experiencing the biggest gain. Almond milk manufacturers offer their product as a healthy alternative to cow or soy milk. It's often recommended for babies who have dairy sensitivities and may help alleviate reactions to cow’s milk reports a study in "Minerva Pediatrica" in 2005.
Allergies to nuts and seeds usually result in a severe, life-threatening reaction in those who are allergic, notes the European Union organization Informall. However, if you are mildly allergic or intolerant to almonds, you could experience a headache or even a migraine as a result of consuming them. Your reaction is not limited to whole almonds or almond butter. Almond milk, which is made by grinding almonds in water and then straining the liquid, can also trigger a sensitivity.
Almost all almonds in the United States are subject to pasteurization, most often with the use of propylene oxide, or PPO, a chemical that helps to kill bacteria. Even almonds labeled as “raw” may have been subjected to this process. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists PPO as a known carcinogen that can cause gastrointestinal, developmental, immune and respiratory problems. The almonds used for almond milk may have been treated with this chemical and although just trace amounts seep into the final product, you could experience symptoms such as headaches if you are particularly sensitive. The EPA notes that it usually takes acute doses to elicit a severe reaction.
If you are certain your headaches are linked to almond milk, avoid the product. You should probably avoid other products containing almonds as well. If using nondairy milk is important to you, consider soy, coconut or rice milk as an alternative. If you omit almond milk from your diet and your headaches persist, you might look to other common allergens, such as wheat, or common causes of intolerance, such as gluten or soy, as the source of your discomfort.
- Minerva Pediatrica: The Almond Milk: A New Approach to the Management of Cow-Milk Allergy/Intolerance in Infants
- Cornucopia Insititute: Mandatory Sterilization of Raw Almonds
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Propylene Oxide
- Informall: Almonds
- Aarkstore: Dairy Alternative Beverages in the U.S.: Soy Milk, Almond Milk, Rice Milk and other Dairy Milk Alternatives