“New” Milk Claims to Provide Relief for Those with Dairy Intolerance: Is It Too Good to be True? (June 2018)
Have you found that you experience, gas, bloating, stomach pains, or diarrhea when you consume milk? If so, you may have what is known as “dairy intolerance.”
Some are claiming that a new type of milk called “A2” is the solution! This milk has been available in Australia and New Zealand since the early 2000’s but is now available in the US and developing a lot of media attention.
You are likely just as curious as I was to learn what this new milk is. With oat milk, almond milk, coconut milk, and cow’s milk, it seems that the foods and animals we can extract milk from are endless!
First of all, A2 is still cow’s milk.
Basically, cow’s milk has a protein called “beta casein protein,” more easily referred to as A1 or BCM-7. Physicians have suggested that it is BCM-7 that causes the gastrointestinal difficulties some people experience when drinking milk.
In the U.S., the cows that produce milk are Holstein cows. These cows were crossed with other breeds thousands of years ago, resulting in a single gene mutation that changed how this beta casein protein responded.
There are currently 12 types of beta-casein genes, with A1 being the original and A2 the most common. According to the California Dairy Research Foundation, dairy cows in the US produce equal amounts of A1 and A2 forms of beta-casein in their milk. This is why some find that drinking milk in Southern Europe (Spain, Portugal, Croatia and Greece), Asia, or Africa does not bother their stomachs as US milk does: the milk is likely produced with more A2 proteins.
The difference between these two proteins (A1 and A2) is one amino acid. To get very technical, A1 has Histidine located at position 67and A2 has Proline in that position. This small change impacts the digestion process for someone who is intolerant. A2 is similar to breast milk, therefore, an individual with or without a dairy allergy can tolerate it.
Research shows that 65% of the human population has a reduced ability to tolerate lactase after infancy. Lactose intolerance is less common if dairy has been incorporated into the diet for years.
A scientist from New Zealand founded A2 Company. It is important to note that all the studies published on A2 are funded by the A2 Company and dairy industry.
The A2 Company test the DNA of their cows by using a hair sample, to verify that their milk contains the A2 protein. They then test the milk after it is made to reconfirm that it does not have the A1 protein.
The company tested a group of Chinese adults with lactose intolerance and compared the intake of consuming milk that had A1 and A2 proteins with only A2 milk on GI function and inflammation.
The participants consumed 8 oz. of milk twice per day for two weeks. They reported worse stomach pain after they consumed the regular, A1, milk but no change after they consumed the A2 milk.
The participants also reported looser stools with more frequency when consuming A1 milk. These symptoms did not occur when they had A2 milk.
It is important to mention that A2 milk still has lactose and protein. As such, while it provides relief for those with dairy intolerance, it is not appropriate for people with lactose intolerance, milk allergies or galactosemia (a rare genetic metabolic disorder that impacts the individuals’ ability to metabolize the sugar from galactose properly. Galactose is in all milk and dairy products, chocolate, fermented foods and garbanzo beans).
If the individual doesn’t tolerate A2 milk, he/she can also transition to almond, soy, coconut, rice or oat milks. A2 is now readily available in Los Angeles and can be found at Ralphs, Bristol Farms, Albertsons, Sprouts and will be at more stores in the upcoming year.
- Cal lick, R (2016). A2 milk sits well on delicate stomachs: lactose study. The Australian Business Review.
- Butler, N. (2017). A2 Milk: what you need to know. Medical News Today.