Some California grocers can now add the controversial, “a2Milk” to their dairy product lines, in hopes of capturing the market on those with sensitive tummies. The milk comes from New Zealand and contains the A2 protein, rather than A1, which is thought to contribute to bloating and gas in some individuals. The a2 milk product, already sold in New Zealand, Britain, and Australia is pasteurized cow’s milk, that contains no growth hormones or antibiotics.
According to a2 Milk’s chief scientific officer, Andrew Clarke, the A1 protein showed up in milk from European dairy herds thousands of years ago as a natural genetic mutation. Because high milk-producing breeds carried the DNA for the mutation, most European and U.S. herds naturally produce milk that contains A1.
It is this protein that causes people’s dairy induced digestive issues, not lactose, contends the a2 company that sells only milk produced from cows that carry the A2 gene. These include bovine descendants from Africa and Asia that never mutated the A2 protein to begin with.
The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition published its first peer-reviewed, human trial examining A1 versus A2 just last year. Researchers found that participants who only ingested the A2 protein reported less bloating and abdominal pain, and firmer stools. The study sample of 36 was “insufficient to show statistical significance,” or to offer conclusive proof according to lead author Sebely Pal of Australia’s Curtin University. More research is needed with greater numbers of participants who report dairy intolerance says Pal.
Not everyone is ready to embrace the A2 theory however, like Greg Miller, chief science officer for the National Dairy Council. “The data (of the human trial) is equivocal and self-reported data always makes me nervous,” he said. “The sample size is small, and I don’t find it compelling in any way.”
Despite the lack of proof that milk containing the A2 protein is better than A1, others like Madelyn Fernstrom, health and nutrition editor for NBC News and TODAY say, “why not?” “I don’t see any harm in giving it a try if you have some issue with digesting dairy. Who knows? It could potentially be easier for you to digest — or not.”
The cost of experimenting with a2Milk products could be pretty high however. At a price of $4.50 for a half gallon (whole, reduced fat, low fat, and fat-free), it’s unclear whether a2, (currently sold only in California) will catch on and be available in other parts of the nation.
Some individuals lack the proper amount of lactase, (an enzyme in the small intestine) thought to be necessary for the digestion of the dairy sugar lactose. When lactose intolerance occurs causing bloating, gas, cramping, and diarrhea a natural supplement may help.
Lacto 90 caps – Enzymedica
Contains the lactase enzyme necessary for healthy digestion of dairy products, along with eight additional enzymes for digestive support in general.
Lactase Enzyme – 60 Caps – Natural Factors
Breaks down lactose for easy digestion by individuals who struggle with lactose intolerance.
Whether dairy sensitivity is really caused by an “old world” A1 protein, or the lack of lactase in the body is unclear as of yet. Nutritional support can offer natural solutions for those who suffer the uncomfortable effects of lactose intolerance.