Is A2 milk really better than A1 milk?

Posted by Barsha Dey

why-is-a2-milk-better-for-you

These days A2 milk popular as a healthier alternative to regular milk. Some claim that A2 milk has several health benefits such as easier digestibility for people with lactose intolerance. However, not all scientists agree. Regular milk contains both A1 and A2 milk proteins (beta-casein) whereas A2 milk contains only A2 milk protein. Some studies suggest that A2 protein is a healthier choice than A1 protein. Let’s get to the core of this “A2 milk vs A1 milk ” debate!

How to differentiate A1 and A2 milk?

Cow milk contains about 3.5% of protein. Casein (beta-lactoglobulin) and whey (alpha-lactalbumin) protein constitute over 95% of the protein content of cow milk. Among the four main types of caseins present in milk, beta-casein is the second most abundant proteins. There are 13 variants of beta-casein among which A1 and A2 are the most common.

  • A1 beta-casein: Milk obtained from breeds of cows that originated in northern Europe such as Holstein, Friesian, Ayrshire and the British Shorthorn are generally high in A1 beta-casein milk.
  • A2 beta-casein: Milk obtained from breeds of cows that originated in the Channel Islands and Southern France such as Guernsey, Jersey, Charolais and Limousin are generally rich in A2 beta-casein milk.

A1 beta-casein arose as a result of the natural mutation of A2 beta-casein over 8,000 years ago. A1 beta-casein interacts differently with our digestive enzymes than A2 beta-casein due to their structural differences. The digestion of A1 beta-casein releases the polypeptide beta-casomorphin-7 (BCM-7). Many scientists hold this polypeptide responsible for several health issues.

The determination of A1/A2 status of cattle depends on A1 and A2 alleles for a beta-casein gene. It may be homozygous for one type of protein (A1A1 or A2A2), or heterozygous (A1A2). A1A1 cattle would produce only A1 milk. On the other hand,  A2A2 would produce only A2 milk and A1A2 cattle would produce both A1 and A2 beta-casein milk.

The History

The A1 gene mutation occurred thousands of years ago in the Holstein cow breed. It was subsequently passed onto other breeds as a result of cross-breeding for higher milk production. Thus, the number of cows producing A1 protein in milk arose. A2 protein is present in milk produced by indigenous cow breeds not having the A1 mutation.

cows-in-a-field

Our native Indian cattle breed produced A2 milk naturally. However, the Operation Flood (White Revolution of India) launched by the National Dairy Development Board in 1970 transformed India from a milk-deficient nation to the largest milk producer of the world. This led to cross-breeding with European cows and import of foreign hybrid breeds for higher yield in order to meet the goal of mass production to feed our growing population.

The debate about the probable link of A1 milk with health disorders started in 1990 after the hypothesis of Dr Bob Elliott in Australia. Epidemiological research and animal studies initially conducted in the early 90s sparked interest in elucidating the difference between A1 and A2 beta-casein proteins. Scientists in New Zealand found positive correlations between A1 beta-casein milk and various chronic diseases. The media, as well as the entrepreneurial and research communities, showed significant interest in this field.

In 2000, a New Zealand scientist Dr Corran McLachlan (noted for his work on health effects of A1 protein) founded the a2 Milk Company along with his partner Howard Paterson (one of the richest businessmen in New Zealand with significant interests in the dairy industry). The company exclusively marketed A2 milk which contained only the A2 protein. The company screens the milk after production to ensure the absence of A1 protein in milk. They invest extensively in targeted research and development on the benefits of A2 protein.

Is A1 milk harmful to our health?

In 2003, the Australian and New Zealand Food Standard and Food Safety authorities stated that there was no relationship between A1/ A2 milk and diabetes, chronic heart disease or other diseases. This was a result of the rising public concerns about the safety of A1 milk arising from the claims made by the a2 Milk Company.

An independent review published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2005) stated that there was no known relationship between the consumption of A1/ A2 milk and chronic diseases.

In 2009, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reviewed the contemporary scientific literature and published a review stating there was no relationship between chronic diseases and consuming A1 protein in milk.

a1-milk-side-effects

However, some other studies have pointed towards the potential health hazards of consuming A1 milk.

A study published in the International Journal ‘Peptides’ have shown that BCM-7 passes through an infant’s underdeveloped gastrointestinal barrier thus resulting in delayed psychomotor development.

Another study published in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism in 2012 indicated BCM-7 can cross the blood-brain barrier. Consequently, this increases the risk for type-1 diabetes, coronary heart disease and mental disorders like autism and schizophrenia. It also oxidizes low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles which can lead to the formation of arterial plaque.

A human clinical trial conducted at Curtin University in Australia established that A1 protein in milk produces certain peptides that do not occur naturally in the human body. This may cause digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and poor gut health.

Some researchers believe that BCM-7 and not lactose is responsible for producing lactose intolerance symptoms in some people. Symptoms may include stomach discomfort, such as flatulence, bloating, and diarrhoea.

On the contrary, some reports even suggest about the many health-promoting effects of BCM-7 such as a protective role in the intestine and prevent oxidative stress.

However, most of the studies are based on animal trials and these diseases have a wide range of contributing factors. Hence, the effects of A1 beta-casein remain controversial and require further research.

Why is A2 milk better for you?

A study published in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism (2012) stated that the consumption of high levels of A2 beta-casein milk leads to a lower incidence of cardiovascular diseases and type-1 diabetes.

woman-drinking-milk

Another study published in the journal Nutrition in 2017 stated that milk containing A2 beta-casein reduces gastrointestinal symptoms associated with milk intolerance. On the other hand, regular milk containing A1 beta-casein increased them. Thus, the milk-related gastrointestinal symptoms may arise due to A1 beta-casein consumption rather than lactose.

However, A2 milk contains lactose and milk protein. Thus, it may not be suitable for people with lactose intolerance, galactosemia, or a milk allergy.

Click here to know more about lactose intolerance!

A1 vs A2 milk in India

Studies by the National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources (NBAGR) covering 22 desi breeds have established that the predominant genotype in India’s native cattle is A2A2. Therefore confirming that our indigenous cows and buffaloes produce A2 milk. The frequency of A2 allele was 100% in the five high-yielding milk breeds — Red Sindhi, Gir, Rathi, Sahiwal and Tharparkar. In the remaining breeds, the availability of A2 allele was 94%.

Though a clear link between A1 milk and health hazards is not yet established, the Indian food authorities have only recently realized the importance of monitoring the A1/A2 status of the cattle as a precautionary measure. The prevalence of A1 genotype in Indian cattle is attributed to the widespread use of exotic breeds in cross-breeding.

A research paper by the NBAGR, Karnal in 2012 recommended the use of bulls with A2 allele for breeding as a safety measure. They screened 180 bulls at random from different regions. Of these bulls, only 11% were had A1A1 genes, while 48% had A1A2 and 40% A2A2 genes. Since there is mostly A2 milk available in India and most dairies mix the entire milk procured of cows and buffaloes. This further dilutes the impact of A1 protein, if any, which makes the consumption of regular milk safe. Even if A1’s connection with adverse health conditions establishes in future, the demand for Indian dairy will increase worldwide!

Conclusion

The A2 milk vs A1 milk debate is still ongoing due to a lack of scientific evidence from human studies. A few studies indicate that A1 milk may have adverse effects on certain individuals. However, the evidence is still too weak for any strong conclusions to be made. Moreover, companies with a vested interest like the a2 Milk Company have funded most of the studies on A2 milk. There is still a lack of conclusive scientific evidence for A1 milk side-effects on humans. In fact, the predominance of A2 beta-casein in Indian cattle makes the hype over A2 branded milk unnecessary. However, if you feel that you digest milk branded as A2 better than regular milk, then go ahead!

Recommended Posts

  • Skip Stein
  • 559 read
How Plant-Based Diet Helped ...

Almost 10 years ago, we went ‘cold turkey’, adopting a plant-based diet....

Read Article
  • Skip Stein
  • 546 read
Fad Diets – Why ...

Every day there seem to be some new ‘fad diets’ that will...

Read Article
  • Rohit Singh Panwar
  • 308 read
Understanding the Concept of ...

Rather than blindly following any of the fad diets for a short...

Read Article
  • Rohit Singh Panwar
  • 491 read
Is Coffee Good or ...

Coffee is world's favourite beverage. The health effects of consuming coffee is...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 547 read
Understanding and Managing Lactose ...

Lactose intolerance is a digestive disorder where the body is unable to...

Read Article
  • Barsha Dey
  • 817 read
How does the sumptuous ...

Love Indian food? Yes, so do we! But, is your diet meeting...

Read Article
  • Rohit Singh Panwar
  • 595 read
The Importance of Hormonal ...

An imbalance of hormones in your body can affect its normal functioning....

Read Article
  • Rohit Singh Panwar
  • 1009 read
Why Good Sleep is ...

We all have some sense of the relationship between our sleep and...

Read Article
  • Charu Agarwal
  • 788 read
Understanding Stress for its ...

STRESS is such a trendy word used these days, isn't it!   ...

Read Article
  • Anitha Narayanamurthy
  • 671 read
How to Stay Healthy ...

I often come across clients asking me "Do you think it's a...

Read Article
  • Kanupriya Khanna
  • 636 read
Importance of Nutrition and ...

We live in a time when our children face tremendous academic pressure....

Read Article
  • Kshemina Mhaskar
  • 870 read
Alcohol Free Breastmilk – ...

I have come up with a calculator, with support from my team,...

Read Article
  • Monia Caramma
  • 765 read
Gut Nutrition for a ...

A healthy gut is key for breaking down the food we eat...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 491 read
6 Interesting Facts About ...

The importance of gut health is often neglected. Your gut does so...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 97 read
Diabesity: The Twin Epidemics ...

According to statistics, approximately 425 million adults in the age group of...

Read Article
  • Anitha Narayanamurthy
  • 676 read
10 Ways To Sleep ...

A few years back after the birth of my second child, I...

Read Article
  • Skip Stein
  • 496 read
The End of Meat ...

“The problem is that humans have victimized animals to such a degree...

Read Article
  • Kshemina Mhaskar
  • 852 read
Are ayurvedic tonics safe ...

While breastfeeding, we take utmost care to avoid alcohol, but in spite...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 278 read
5 Simple Diet Tips ...

Losing pounds doesn't have to be torturous. Often, people believe that crash...

Read Article
  • Harshita Dilawri Sachdeva
  • 541 read
How to make Midnight ...

It’s midnight… and are you craving for food? Do you feel like...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 637 read
Intermittent Fasting for Weight ...

According to the ancient Indian system of medicine, Ayurveda, people should mend...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 576 read
Are Artificial Sweeteners Safe? ...

The notion is artificial sweeteners are "sugar-free" and a must-have for diabetics....

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 569 read
Circadian Rhythm: Your Body’s ...

Have you ever wondered why you feel sleepy or energetic or with...

Read Article
  • Aastha Jessica
  • 509 read
Keto Diet and Weight ...

Metabolic diseases and obesity have become the world's biggest health issues. According...

Read Article
  • Charu Agarwal
  • 463 read
How to develop a ...

Body image is the perception of a person about his/her physical body...

Read Article
  • Aastha Jessica
  • 106 read
The Origin of The ...

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate protein, and a low-carbohydrate diet....

Read Article
  • Vikraman V
  • 316 read
What is Visceral Fat ...

Body fat can be of several types, each with their own unique...

Read Article
  • Aastha Jessica
  • 481 read
Menopause Side Effects, Causes ...

Menopause is a natural decline in the reproductive hormones when a woman...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 640 read
3 Reasons Why Your ...

Since the past few years, ketogenic diets or keto diets are popular...

Read Article
  • Kshemina Mhaskar
  • 745 read
Alcohol and Breastfeeding: All ...

“Is it safe to drink when pregnant? Are you serious? You are...

Read Article
  • Skip Stein
  • 463 read
Health is Wealth and ...

How many successful people, the rich and famous, the leaders of Nations,...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 660 read
7 Dietary Tips To ...

Our gut is a house to millions of microbes. The gut microbiome...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 314 read
Ketogenic Diet For Indian ...

Maybe you’ve heard the term “keto diet” a lot from health freaks...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 567 read
Importance of Healthy Gut ...

Our gut is responsible for putting our body into working order as...

Read Article
  • Rohit Singh Panwar
  • 322 read
Busting the Myth around ...

There are several misconceptions about . Everyone seems to have their own...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 377 read
Air Purifying Plants – ...

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution causes 7million deaths...

Read Article
  • Barsha Dey
  • 400 read
Is Sitting the New ...

Sedentary lifestyle habits are currently being associated with the risk of diseases....

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 291 read
Paleo Diet: How It ...

The food humans have subsisted on for most of our history is...

Read Article
  • Barsha Dey
  • 594 read
Air Pollution and You: ...

We are all familiar with the term pollution and always hear about...

Read Article
  • Monia Caramma
  • 689 read
Improve Digestion Naturally – ...

We all face some sort of digestive issues every now and then....

Read Article
  • Rohit Singh Panwar
  • 1291 read
BLUE ZONE diet: The ...

Do you want to live longer, healthier and happier? Is this possible?...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 474 read
Fennel seeds: The Healthy ...

Have you ever wondered why many restaurants serve fennel seeds at the...

Read Article
  • Barsha Dey
  • 533 read
Prostate Health: How can ...

Do you worry about your prostate health? Are you at a higher...

Read Article
  • James Corden-Lloyd
  • 463 read
Reverse Oxidative Stress with ...

We have always believed that our health and wellbeing are a result...

Read Article
  • Dr. Swapan Banerjee
  • 417 read
Fight Fatigue by Modifying ...

Do you feel constant fatigue all day round? Do the simplest of...

Read Article
  • Gagandeep Singh Mithoo
  • 1000 read
Exercise, Diet and Balancing ...

Without pain, there is no gain. The road to success and accomplishment...

Read Article
  • Barsha Dey
  • 548 read
5 Healthy Herbal Teas ...

Herbal teas are gaining immense popularity in India for its different array...

Read Article
  • Rohit Singh Panwar
  • 1069 read
Obesity and Insulin Resistance: ...

As per WHO, in 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 635 read
Glycemic Index: A Valuable ...

Different foods affect our blood sugar levels differently. Some foods increase our...

Read Article
  • Barsha Dey
  • 800 read
Caffeine vs. Decaffeinated – ...

The importance of Coffee is immense in many of our lives. Many...

Read Article
  • Kanupriya Khanna
  • 742 read
Healthy Foods for Breastfeeding ...

After childbirth, most mothers can produce a healthy supply of breast milk...

Read Article
  • Charu Agarwal
  • 682 read
How To Deal With ...

Stress is bad and stress reduction should be among your top priorities...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 358 read
Is Coconut Oil Pure ...

Coconut oil had been touted as a "health-food" all across the world...

Read Article
  • Barsha Dey
  • 809 read
A Vegetarian’s Guide to ...

Proteins are essential for your body's growth and maintenance. However, a protein-rich...

Read Article
  • Prof.V.G.K. Murthy
  • 870 read
Moringa: Nature’s Ultimate Superfood ...

Moringa leaf is a nutrient powerhouse packed with more than 90 nutrients...

Read Article
  • Rohit Singh Panwar
  • 1254 read
Improved Gut Health: A ...

“All disease begins in the gut.” – Hippocrates Hippocrates emphasized on gut...

Read Article
  • Rohit Singh Panwar
  • 1001 read
Health And Nutrition For ...

Ever wondered how can we simplify and describe health and wellbeing in...

Read Article
  • Rohit Singh Panwar
  • 1660 read
Prebiotics and Probiotics – ...

"If there's one thing to know about the human body; it's this: the...

Read Article
  • Barsha Dey
  • 743 read
5 Foods that Help ...

Do you feel drowsy the entire day but you just cannot seem...

Read Article
  • YS Content Team
  • 698 read
Ketogenic Diet: Is it ...

Towards the fall of 2016, popular stand-up comedian and AIB cofounder Tanmay...

Read Article
  • Barsha Dey
  • 668 read
The Raging Debate Over ...

A part of the science community strongly believes that genetically modified crops...

Read Article
  • Barsha Dey
  • 748 read
Single Cell Protein: Next ...

In developing countries like ours, food scarcity is one of the major...

Read Article
  • Barsha Dey
  • 587 read
10 Anti-Inflammatory Foods You ...

Inflammation is the immune system’s natural response to stress, toxins, injuries and...

Read Article
  • Barsha Dey
  • 754 read
8 Best Foods for ...

A staggering number of people across the globe experience hair loss. Hair...

Read Article
  • Barsha Dey
  • 620 read
To juice or not ...

As a kid, I always cringed at the thought of eating fruits...

Read Article
  • Barsha Dey
  • 740 read
Why Are Trans Fats ...

We all love our deep-fried junk food. Fried foods are rich in...

Read Article

2 comments

  • Dr jolly Chandna
    Reply July 22, 2019 2:56 pm

    V informative ..I had been knowing many about this ..now this has enhanced my knowledge …I know the difference between a pure breed cow and a cross breed …have seen ai milk producing mental problems in kids

    • admin
      Reply July 24, 2019 8:02 am

      Thanks Dr. Jolly! Studies are still underway to determine the effect of A1 milk. Our intention is to bring out the irrefutable knowledge proven as yet. Much more still is needed for certainty.

Post your Comments

NAME *
EMAIL *