When it comes to dairy milk, not all milks are created equal. While some crunchy mamas turn their attention toward milk alternatives like oat milk or almond milk, there’s another route we can take when it comes to issues like inflammation, tummy upsets, and overproduction of mucus. People with dairy sensitivities are turning toward A2 milk for lactose intolerance challenges. We personally pick up raw milk from a farm every week, and they have A2 cows. It’s amazing and once you drink that you can’t go back to anything else!
If there is an A2 milk, what about A1 milk? When I first heard of A2 vs A1 milk, I thought it might be a new brand available at the local grocery store. I was curious just what the differences were between them, and was pleasantly surprised when I learned the science behind it.
What is A1 and A2 Milk?
Dairy milk is made up of lots of working parts. While most of our dairy milk is comprised of water, there are other features like the milk sugars and milk proteins. You may have heard of the milk protein whey when it comes to supplements or powders for working out, but there is another protein in milk called casein.
Casein proteins have a few different structures, and those can change based on factors like the genetics of the cows or gene mutations that happen over time.
In dairy cows in the United States and European countries, cows have proteins called A1 beta-casein and A2 beta-casein. These proteins occur in dairy milk together, or they can express individually. The proteins are almost identical, too, except for one simple amino acid difference. This teeny-tiny distinction makes a big impact on our digestion because it activates an enzyme to produce in our bodies.
This pesky enzyme response can wreak havoc when it comes to digesting dairy. When we drink milk that has A1 beta-casein, the enzyme tries to break down the protein so our bodies can use the nutrition effectively. The problem is that enzyme activates an immune response, too. It communicates with other organs like our stomach or intestines.
Cramps? No thanks. Inflammation? Yikes! Sounds like A1 milk causes a lot of problems for those of us who love cheese curds or a good scratch-made cottage cheese. However, not all hope is lost, dairy lovers!
A2 beta-casein has a different structure that doesn’t flag our digestive system to create that enzyme that causes so much body woe and inflammation. During digestion, A2 milk simply processes through the stomach and intestines without issue, leaving the A2 beta-casein to go through our system with an all clear.
The Benefits of A2 Milk
Keep in mind, the genetics of the cow plays a part. When scientists linked the A1 protein to all the health issues people experienced with lactose intolerance, they had to look at the cows that make A1 beta-casein to determine which cows made A2 proteins instead. They connected with farmers and started picking out breeds of cows and intentionally rearing calves that had the A2 beta-casein protein instead.
In America, the majority of dairy cows had the A1 mutation. Now that there is more information on why people are having inflammation responses, there are more cows specifically bred for the A2 protein.
Here are some of the health benefits of A2 milk:
- Avoid Inflammation: Because your body doesn’t have to react to A2 milk for lactose intolerance responses, your digestion can skip the inflammation response and go through a normal digestion process.
- Dodge Stomach Upset: When it comes to A2 milk, your stomach has the chance to process it as it would any other food or beverage. Say goodbye to cramps when it comes to dairy, and hello to delicious eats for your family—whether you are indulging in a homemade macaroni and cheese or a nutrient-rich batch of raw milk kefir. If you have trouble digesting dairy, there are supplements that can help break it down.
- Beat Out Bloat: When you eat something that your body doesn’t love, bloat is just one of the unpleasant responses that we can face. With A2 milk vs A1 milk, the risk of bloating is lower because it won’t have to process the A1 beta-casein present in standard milk. You can rest easy if you need to go out after dinner that your outfit will still look just as fabulous as it did before you ate.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: A2 milk contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help our bodies with several important processes. From keeping skin clear to boosting our moods and mental clarity, you are getting more omega-3 fatty acid integrated into your diet.
- Vitamin A Boost: Vitamin A is essential in preserving eyesight. It is an important nutrient in how our bodies fight infection and keeps the immune system functioning properly. A2 milk contains vitamin A as well! What a health food super star!
Adding A2 Milk to Your Diet
Given the benefits of A2 milk, it’s no wonder its popularity is starting to outshine as an alternative to standard dairy milk. There are several ways to include A2 milk that are just as simple as pouring a bowl of cereal without the added processed sugars.
Try making any of these homemade and flavorful options if you’re looking for some A2 Milk inspiration:
If you’re really inspired by the benefits of A2 milk, you’ve gotta check out some of my recipes that use raw milk. If you’re looking for something for the holidays before all the goodies are sold out, look at this amazing creamy eggnog recipe. If it’s too early for some holiday cheer in your life (listen—I love a good Egg Nog, even before December!) but you’re hungry for more, look through my recipes. Even if you are more of a milk alternatives crunchy mama, I’ve got delicious options for diets like Whole30, where you can make your coconut yogurt and eat it, too. You can find healthy alternatives to many of your faves, with a little more realness.