Have you ever stopped to notice how many people react to dairy? Some sources claim 1 in 4 people suffer from negative side effects after consuming milk products!
I’ve been mulling over the ‘dairy world’ as of late (as you know if you’ve read this post). We want to have children someday. Between my inability to breastfeed and my husband’s “dairy sensitive genes,” I knew we needed to learn a bit about dairy reactions before we entered the baby phase.
While chatting with folks and researching, I kept hearing about “A1 and A2” dairy. Finally, I decided to do some solid research of my own.
Folks, the result amazed me! Here is what I discovered.
WHAT DOES A1 OR A2 STAND FOR?
Casein is a protein type found in the milk of all dairy animals. Within the casein protein, we (today) have two types of beta-casein: A1 and A2.
These two types share the difference of one amino acid.
WHY WE DON’T LIKE A1 PROTEIN
The issue is this: A1 beta-casein is difficult to digest and isn’t a naturally occurring milk protein.
Interestingly enough, it is absent from human milk and if found in sheep or goats, is minimal. Many believe it was absent in the original cattle breeds.
Until the recent surge for mass dairy production, milk contained the easier-to-digest A2 protein only.
Today, the primary dairy cow of North America produces milk with high quantities of A1 beta-casein!
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS?
Studies are beginning to suggest it’s milk/dairy products containing high amounts of A1 beta-casein that have contributed to the recent surge in dairy sensitivities (sensitivities, not allergies).
In a recent study, forty-five Chinese participated in an experiment with A1 and A2 milk. The outcome revealed that A1 dairy was indeed harder on the digestive system.
Why does this matter?
Sources claim consuming A1 milk/milk products (raw or not) can lead to a release of “beta-casomorphin-7 during digestion, which has been linked to type 1 diabetes, heart disease, infant death, autism and digestive problems.”
WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT BETA-CASOMORPHIN-7?
I readily confess I had no idea either! But as I researched, the pieces began to fall into place. Beta-casomorphin-7 causes the human body to release histamine.
Finally! Something I was familiar with!
Hista-whats-its-name is a natural part of the body’s defense system. Part of it’s job is to cause inflammation when ‘invaders’ appear.
“Histamine is released at the mucosal surfaces as a result of exposure to foreign particles. This histamine release causes the capillaries to become more permeable to white blood cells, which move into the capillaries and proceed to target and attack foreign bodies in the affected tissue.” (1)
Is it a positive thing?
However, if your intestinal wall is consistently inflamed by consumption of trigger foods (milk containing A1 beta-casein), other issues are likely to develop over time. Indigestion, tissue scarring, bacterial overgrowth and enzyme inhibition are a few of the many (Meals That Heal Inflammation, by Julie Daniluk R.H.N, pg 38-39).
IS A1 PROTEIN PRESENT IN ALL DAIRY COWS?
Due to selective breeding and genetic mutation, the primary dairy cow of North America produces milk with very high levels of A1 beta-casein.
Wave hello to the Holstein, folks!
Holsteins have been bred to produce incredible amounts of milk, averaging 9 gallons per day throughout their yearly lactation period. Sources claim that it’s genes are spread throughout 90% of dairy cows found in the USA.
But is the A1 protein present in all dairy cows?
Today, it’s rare to find an bovine that produces milk truly 100% free of the A1 protein. Unless you want to milk a yak or a water buffalo!
Less modified, older breeds such as the Jersey, Guernsey, Swiss Brown and Dexter are likely to contain far less of it. However, the only way to know whether an animal will produce milk with (primarily) A2 beta-casein is through genetic testing.
Interestingly enough, New Zealand has been producing A2 milk since 2004 and has witnessed beneficial results among lactose intolerant (not allergic) citizens. Other countries, such as Australia and the US have slowly followed suit.
HOW CAN YOU SOURCE AN A2, MILK PRODUCING ANIMAL?
As the demand for A2 milk rises, so does the supply. Slowly, farms throughout the world are beginning to breed and sell A2 cow only. Genetic testing is necessary and both parents must carry the A2 gene.
If purchasing a dairy cow in hopes of getting A2 milk, always run tests beforehand. Just to be safe!
The alternatives would be to keep dairy goats or sheep. And if the fat globules actually are easier to digest, why not give your struggling stomach all the help it can get?
IS A2 MILK EVERYTHING?
I suspect not! Our own personal use of antibiotics, the nutrition-less diet most of us maintain, depleted gut health and even genetics likely play a role in the recent surge we’ve seen with dairy intolerance.
Even the food our animals eat now (commercially speaking) has changed. And let’s not even get into the way dairy was traditionally prepared for centuries! Raw and most often, fermented!
The incredible number of reactions to dairy must flow from a number of things.
For some folks? Consuming milk/milk products that are rich in the A2 beta-casein protein has been the way out!
IF I’M FLAT OUT ALLERGIC TO DAIRY, CAN I DRINK A2 MILK?
That, my friends, is beyond my realm of understanding. Allergic reactions are triggered by various components of milk/dairy products. Some can handle casein (solids such as butter, cheese) but not whey. Others are the exact opposite.
I’m not a doctor or nutritionist. I am only a learner who likes to share findings on her personal blog. And that’s all. If you have questions, talk with your doctor!