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  • Writer's pictureKathy Ozakovic

Should I Drink A2 Milk?

Although it is commonly assumed that gastrointestinal symptoms experienced after consuming regular milk are due to lactose intolerance, lactose might not be the only cause of some people’s digestive discomfort. Some people may have a sensitivity to the A1 protein and not simply to the lactose itself. A2 Milk comes from cows specially selected to naturally produce milk with only the A2 beta-casein protein type, and no A1.



Fact: A2 beta-casein is the original beta-casein protein gene. A mutation caused the A1 protein to appear a few thousand years ago.


So, now we have what we call regular milk (milk containing A1 + A2 + lactose), A2 milk (no A1 protein, lactose containing) and A2 lactose free (no A1 protein, lactase enzyme). This can help you explore what is causing digestive upset.



If you have been experiencing GI upset after consuming dairy try these 3 steps.


STEP 1: Temporarily eliminate dairy from all sources. This should last 1-2 weeks and means avoiding all dairy milk, cheese, yoghurt, cream, ice cream, butter, and also dairy as an ingredient in foods, such as milk solids, whey protein and cheese powder. If symptoms do not resolve go to your GP as further investigation is warranted.


Step 2: Introduce A2 lactose free. Use on cereals, in teas/coffees, as you usually would. Continue to avoid other regular dairy foods and lactose. Alternatively, use A2 Milk with a lactase enzyme tablet.


STEP 3: If no symptoms arise, introduce regular A2 milk (which contains lactose). If no symptoms arise you can assume lactose is not the issue, rather it is the A1 protein in regular milk. Stick to consuming A2 milk.


If symptoms arise when you introduced the A2 regular milk - it is likely a lactose intolerance (given IBD has been ruled out). Stick to consuming lactose free products. If you suffer GI symptoms with regular lactose free milk - you have an intolerance to both A1 and lactose! Stick to consuming A2 lactose free milk.



So, what's the difference between A1 and A2 milk anyway?


It has to do with what happens in the gut when we digest it. Digestion of A1 beta-casein (found in regular milk) in the small intestine releases BCM-7. BCM-7 can bind to mu-opioid receptors present throughout the body. In the gut, BCM-7 can trigger inflammation, intestinal transit time delay and microbiome changes, and consequently gastrointestinal symptoms in some people. In some patients with gastrointestinal discomfort following commercial milk intake, avoiding the A1 protein may make the difference.


The structure of A2 beta-casein (found in A2 milk) limits the release of BCM-7 on digestion. A2 Milk is from purely A2 type beta-casein gene carrying cow herds. Therefore, because A2 milk has no A1 protein it is naturally free of the BCM-7 related issues. In a research trial(1) involving adults even lactose maldigesters benefited with symptom improvement after consuming only A2 consuming milk.


Furthermore, in a research trial(2) involving predominantly lactose intolerant children (85% of participants) when the children (aged 5-6) consumed milk containing only A2 beta-casein gastrointestinal symptom scores were lower than scores after consuming conventional milk, and remained at a level similar to baseline over 5 days consumption. In turn, scores in aspects of cognitive performance improved.



Remember, cow's milk is not your only option.

If you have IDB, IBS or a sensitive gut due to increased gut barrier permeability or gluten intolerance you may want to consider a more gentle plant based option.


Undecided about the type of milk you want to drink? Read this blog to help you decide: What Milk Should I Drink

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Did you find this blog helpful and informative? Tag & Share with your friends who would love it too! Sign up for my Free NuFit Wellness Newsletter to stay in the loop. Attend my Wellness Workshops. Promoting consciousness in food choices helping people heal. Dietitian & Wellness Coach, Health Presenter, Gut Health Specialist - Kathy Ozakovic.

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KEYWORDS: Milk, A2, Dairy, Lactose, Digestion, IBS, Digest, Bloating, Protein

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REFERENCES:

(1) Monica Ramakrishnan, Tracy K. Eaton, Omer M. Sermet, and Dennis A. Savaiano, Milk Containing A2 β-Casein ONLY, as a Single Meal, Causes Fewer Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance than Milk Containing A1 and A2 β-Caseins in Subjects with Lactose Maldigestion and Intolerance: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Crossover Trial, Nutrients (2020) 12:12.


(2) Sheng, Xiaoyang; Li, Zailing; Ni, Jiayi; Yelland, Greg, Effects of Conventional Milk Versus Milk Containing Only A2 β-Casein on Digestion in Chinese Children: A Randomized Study, Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition (2019) 69:3.

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