A2 Milk: The Milk-Lover's Solution to Protein Intolerance
For many years, I thought I was lactose intolerant. Then, I started drinking A2 milk and discovered my intolerance is more likely intolerance to A1 protein.
Yes, whenever I drank milk or consumed dairy products, I experienced stomachaches, gas, bloating, and all the symptoms associated with what people call lactose intolerance. I took lactose enzymes before consuming dairy products, and most of the time, they worked. But, sometimes they didn’t work, and I suffered the consequence of consuming dairy products that my body could not readily process.
If you avoid milk and dairy products because they cause discomfort, discover the value of A2 milk and how A2 milk may allow you to enjoy the satisfying flavor of milk again with no adverse side effects.
A1 vs. A2 Study
Studies show that humans digest A2 milk better than they digest A1 milk.
A seven-day blind study designed to test whether or not people were affected by the protein components of A1 and A2 proteins showed that negative digestive symptoms were markedly reduced after consuming A2 milk versus regular milk, which contains A1 and A2 proteins.
The A1 and A2 Story
There was a time, more than 10,000 years ago, that cows only produced the A2 protein. But, some kind of mutation occurred in Holstein cows, and then they began producing the A1 and A2 proteins. In many of the Asian, African, and some Southern European areas, cows continue to produce only A2 milk. It is in the Western world where cows produce predominantly A1 milk.
When referring to A1 and A2 milk, scientists are referring only to the beta-casein protein contained in milk. Various animals, such as cows, sheep, goats, produce various levels of A1 and A2 protein.
Some humans have more trouble digesting A1 protein and less trouble digesting A2 protein. A human mother’s breast milk is A2 milk; thus, babies tend not to have digestive problems consuming breast milk from their mothers. It is with this knowledge in mind that companies were wanting to gain a more significant share of milk-drinking consumers; companies began raising and marketing cows that produce only the A2 milk.
Which Animals Produce A2 Milk?
Mainly, the animals known to be reliable in producing A2 milk are:
- Asian herds,
- Guernsey cows,
- Jersey cows,
- and yaks.
On the other hand, the Holstein cow breed, which is predominant in Australia, Northern Europe, and the United States, produces both the A1 and A2 milk.
Farmers can breed animals which produce only A2 milk, and it is a process that can take several generations of breeding. First, a bull must possess two copies of the A2 gene in their DNA (A2/A2). And, that bull must mate with a cow with two copies of the A2 gene in their DNA. This combination of mating will assure that the offspring will produce A2 milk.
Are You Lactose Intolerant or Protein Intolerant?
The symptoms of lactose intolerance and protein intolerance are similar. So, for health reasons and for more suitable choices, it is wise to determine which intolerance category applies to you.
Lactose is a carbohydrate. If you are lactose intolerant, it means your body does not produce enough lactase, an enzyme made in the small intestine that breaks down lactose. Your body cannot digest lactose, which is the sugar in milk or dairy products. So, when you consume dairy products, you become bloated; you get cramps, nausea, gas; and diarrhea sets in almost immediately.
In order to enjoy a milk beverage or any dairy product, you might drink lactose-free milk or take lactose pills. If the pills alleviate your discomfort, then you can safely assess that you might be lactose intolerant.
A1 and A2 are called beta-casein proteins. They are identical forms of beta-casein except for one single amino acid. Of the 209 amino acids that make up a protein, it is the amino acid in the 67th position of the amino acid chain that determines whether the protein will be an A1 or A2 protein. If the amino acid in the 67th position is a histidine, then the protein will be an A1 protein. If the amino acid in the 67th position is a proline, then the protein will be an A2 protein.
Oftentimes, it is histidine that causes trouble for people who suffer from conditions such as diabetes and heart conditions, which is why doctors sometimes recommend people with certain health conditions stop consuming milk products.
Milk also contains whey and beta-casein, which are other protein components found in milk. The body uses a protease enzyme to break down protein for digestion and absorption. If you do not have enough protease enzyme in your body, your body will overreact to the protein, producing the same type of symptoms found in people who complain about being lactose intolerant.
Many people in Western cultures complain about being lactose intolerant when in fact, they might actually be protein intolerant.
Cost Comparison of Regular, Lactose-Free, and A2 Milk
The cost of regular milk, lactose-free milk, and A2 milk are fairly comparable.
I found A2 milk at regular grocery store outlets such as Ralphs, Whole Foods, Safeway, Walmart, and Albertsons. I even found A2 milk at the Costco membership store.
Nutrition Facts for A2 Milk
Serving Size 1 cup (240 mL)
Calories from Fat
% Daily Value*
Fat 5 g
Saturated fat 3 g
Unsaturated fat 0g
Try A2 Milk and Discover the Joy of Drinking Milk Again
I used to avoid drinking milk. On rare occasions, if I did drink milk, I would either drink lactose-free milk or take a lactose pill. It did not always alleviate the bloating and uneasy feeling associated with being lactose intolerant, but I did this because I thought I was lactose intolerant. Now, after trying A2 milk, I believe my intolerance to milk is actually intolerance to the A1 protein found in milk.
Now, I drink A2 milk without taking a lactose pill, and I have zero adverse effects. I no longer experience bloating, diarrhea, or upset stomach.
A2 milk is real milk and tastes like the milk we remember when we were kids. The cost to buy A2 milk is not much different than buying regular milk and is well worth trying.
Effects Comparison of A1 and A2 Milk on Gastrointestinal Physiology, Symptoms and Behavior via U.S. National Library of Medicine
Science for a Sustainable Future, A2 Milk Facts via California Dairy Research Foundation
A1/A2 Milk and beta-Casomorphins: The Resurgence of Controversy via Institute of Food Technologists
Effects of milk containing only A2 beta casein versus milk containing both A1 and A2 beta casein proteins via US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health
Increased gene dosage for β- and κ-casein in transgenic cattle improves milk composition through complex effects via US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health
Genetics and A2 Milk: What You Need to Know via Dairy Basics
Is Breeding for A2 Milk for You? via University of Minnesota Extension
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
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© 2019 Marlene Bertrand