I have posted several times about the role of milk on gut health -in a previous blog post I explained how many people with gut issues may struggle to digest cows’ milk. But it’s not as simple as simply cutting out lactose or instantly switching plant-based products: for some, it could be an issue with casein proteins. This is an area which I definitely believe needs much more research -because although there are plenty of dairy free possibilities; it would help people really get to the bottom of what is triggering their symptoms and allow people to have options to resort back to real cows’ milk (if indeed it turns out that they can drink it without issue).
I know lots of people who switch to lactose-free milk for a week; declare they feel no better and go straight back to regular milk– which means they really don’t explore cows’ milk beyond lactose-free milk. This is largely because info is unclear and people don’t know exactly what part of milk might be causing them digestive issues (and lactose intolerance is the only one we really hear about in the media) As you know, I am always interested in the latest developments and when the folks from a2 Milk™ got in touch to share their latest project, I thought you guys would be interested in finding out more.
Now just to be clear: I would never say you must try one milk product over the next- I know some of you drink goat’s milk, lactofree milk, soy milk, almond milk, hemp milk, organic cows’ milk or indeed a2 Milk ™ . So I always encourage you to read the research, give things a try and see what works out best for you! But given that this blog is always about informed based decisions, I thought you’d appreciate the info (I know that I found it really interesting) After you’ve had a read, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
So what is a2 Milk™?
Cows’ milk is made up of two types of casein (a milk protein):A1 and A2. Even lactose-free milk contains this protein but there is some suggestion that A1 protein can be difficult to digest or even linked to inflammation (like this study suggests here). a2 Milk™ is cows’ milk that is free from A1 protein- a protein that many people may have difficulty digesting.
Can it help improve symptoms for those who already have issues with lactose intolerance or dairy?
Well, like anything, that depends on the individual but The Functional Gut Clinic recently completed Dr Hobson’s milk challenge, which suggested it may well help those with IBS or who perceived themselves to be lactose intolerant. The challenge in question did not aim to cure IBD or IBS, but instead consider whether people who thought they were intolerant to cows’ milk (specifically, lactose), had a difference in response between milk containing the A1 protein and a2 Milk™.
In it, participants were given a 24-hour dietary restriction and overnight fast. They provided a baseline breath sample and were then randomly assigned to drink 500ml of either regular A1-containing cows’ milk or a2 Milk™ (naturally free from the A1 protein).The lactose content of both was exactly the same so the focus was only on the specific milk protein.
So what did it find? Results showed that all the people who drunk the A1 milk showed an increase of symptoms; even though only 1 of the patients actually had evidence of lactose malabsorption (most likely from SIBO). Suggesting that they reacted to the A1 protein and did not actually have the lactose intolerance issues they perceived. Yet in the group that drank a2 Milk™, interestingly, 3 of the members of the group did have lactose malabsorption issues but still reported no issues when drinking the a2 Milk™.
This is a small scale project but one that really interested me. I’d also be interested in how this might work in terms of IBD and whether it could have an impact on inflammation. I am not suggesting everyone runs out and fills their fridge with a2 Milk™ this instant but it does demonstrate how we need to explore the topic of A1/A2 proteins in more detail- particularly in relation to IBS and other digestive disorders.
I also think it’s great to see milk companies investing in these kinds of projects- rather than relying on taglines that aren’t substantiated.
If you’d like more info on a2 Milk™, you can visit their website.
This is a collaborative post with a2 Milk™