“Our deeply-rooted beliefs about the wholesomeness of milk and dairy products should be reconsidered under careful, scientific evaluation.” ― Bodo Melnik
Plant-based milks have earned a lot of praise lately, so much so that you may not have heard about new discoveries in the world of dairy. As it turns out, there are actually two varieties of cow’s milk. The difference between A1 and A2 milk is a single amino acid variation in the beta-casein milk protein. Looking closely at line 67 of their amino acid chains, we find proline in A2 milk, while the same position hosts histidine in A1 milk. This small difference can affect your health immensely. Is it possible that you have been drinking the wrong type of milk? Keep reading to find out.
The histidine amino acid found in A1 milk isn’t all bad. In fact, histidine has been used as medicine to treat allergies, arthritis, ulcers, anemia, and even kidney disease. However, it can also cause milk to be more difficult to digest, leading to varying degrees of discomfort. The most common symptoms are bloating, gas, or diarrhea.
Many people who experience such symptoms find they have a much easier time digesting organic grass-fed A2 milk. A2 milk isn’t so much made as it is found in animals with specific breeding. Interestingly, milk provided by Holstein cows throughout America and Europe tends to contain both A1 and A2 proteins, whereas cows from Asia, Africa, and Jersey Island tend to produce exclusively A2 milk. Fortunately, recent developments have increased the popularity and availability of these breeds on farms within the United States, bringing A2 milk to local grocery store shelves.
Though research is still evolving, the anecdotal evidence is strong. People who would typically feel uncomfortable after drinking dairy are exhibiting significantly less gastrointestinal inflammation after switching to A2 milk specifically. Though not a definitive or complete cure for lactose intolerance, one significant study does hint towards that possibility.
“The results suggest that the exacerbation of gastrointestinal symptoms associated with milk in lactose-intolerant subjects may be related to A1 β-casein rather than lactose per se”(NCBI, 2016). Additional studies are currently exploring potential connections between A1 milk and increased cardiovascular disease, type 1 diabetes, autism, and psychological disorders.
Nutritionally, organic grass-fed A2 milk is identical to traditional milk when we compare calories, fat, lactose, and overall protein content. Meaning those that switch receive the same nutritional benefits without the discomfort. Plus, reviewers actually insist that it tastes better. I recently began making yogurt with A2 milk and have already noticed a pleasant reduction in gas and bloat.
If you have mild to moderate discomfort when it comes to dairy, then A2 milk may be worth testing out for yourself. Direct comparisons show that it is more nutrient-dense than the trending plant-based milks and just as easy on the gastrointestinal tract. Of course, as with any form of dairy, it is wise to always choose organic grass-fed A2 to avoid unhealthy antibiotics and environmental toxins.
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What To Remember:
The difference between A1 and A2 milk is a single amino acid variation in
the beta-casein milk protein.
A2 milk may be easier for some people to tolerate, meaning less gas or bloating.
Choose organic grassfed A2 milk to avoid discomfort as well as antibiotics or environmental toxins.
Arnarson, Atli. (March, 2019). A1 vs. A2 Milk — Does It Matter? Retrieved from Healthline.com.
Butler, Natalie. (July, 2017). A2 milk: What you need to know. Retrieved from Medical News Today.
Kruszelnicki, Karl. (June, 2018). Dr Karl explains the difference between A1 and A2 milk. Retrieved from ABC Science.
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