Why A2 dairy may be easier to digest relative to A1 dairyJul 15, 2023
Dairy products are a super food! They are a great source of bioavailable nutrients and let's be honest - they are delicious! BUT there are certainly some people who do not digest dairy well.
If you are one of those individuals, something you may want to pay attention to is the ANIMAL source where it is coming from - goat, cow, sheep, buffalo, etc., since this can certainly impact digestibility.
Let's discuss why ⤵️
Milk contains protein, and two of the main types include casein (~80% of the protein) and whey (~20%). Then there are different subtypes of casein and whey, as well.
Let's focus on the beta-casein subtype, which makes up about 40% of the total protein contained in milk (the dominant form), and are present in two forms: A1 and A2 (or some combination of the two).
Dairy breeds and dairy animals will have varying amounts of A1 and A2.
Many commercial cow breeds will contain more A1.
And then dairy goats, sheep, some cow breeds (need testing), buffalo and human breast milk contain exclusively A2.
Both A1 and A2 beta-casein variants are polypeptide chains made up of 209 amino acids in sequence, and the ONLY difference is a single amino acid at position 67: A1 has a histidine and A2 has a proline at that position. But this change can make a huge difference for some people, as it chains the behavior of this protein during digestion.
Proline (in A2) provides a strong bond, making it harder to break down at that location. Histidine (in A1) provides a weak bond, so the A1 beta-casein can easily be broken down at this location, yielding beta-casomorphin 7 (BCM7).
Some people are able to digest and break down BCM7 just fine.
But a lot of people are sensitive to this formation of BCM7i, which means they would react negatively to milk/dairy containing A1 casein, but not necessarily milk containing A2 casein that does not break down to this BCM7.
There are multiple studies demonstrating that switching to A2 milk lowers intestinal inflammation, bloating, and abdominal pain; prevents constipation and brain fog; improves lactose tolerance and more. (ref, ref, ref, ref, ref)
"When analyzing the available evidence... it is possible to conclude that consuming cows' milk containing A2, instead of A1, results in an overall improved gastrointestinal status and reduced milk gut discomfort." (ref)
Now this may not be the case for everyone, but many of our farm customers are able to consume our raw goat milk symptom free, despite not being able to consume cow milk and dairy.
What to do?
Well, you don't have to consume dairy. But if your current source is giving you digestive issues, try an A2 source.
Check out www.realmilk.com to find a local dairy farm near you - either a goat dairy or a cow dairy with a herd that is tested A2A2.
If you do not have a farmer near you that you trust, we can ship directly to your door through our new farm cooperative - NOURISH.
We have all the following products that are tested A2A2:
- Raw milk
- Raw butter
- Raw cream
- Sour cream
- Cottage cheese
- Coming soon: thick Skyr yogurt
In addition to the A2A2 beta-casein, goat milk is commonly easier to digest and less allergenic relative to cow milk (even cow milk that is A2A2).
First, goat milk is the closest animal milk to human milk.
Goat milk is also naturally homogenized, has more medium-chain triglycerides and smaller fat globules than cow milk, resulting in easier digestion. The more drastic surface-to volume ratio actually allows for a quicker and smoother digestion process, and less irritation on the digestive system.
Goat milk also has higher levels of certain vitamins, such as vitamin C, retinol (real vitamin A), Vitamin B6, riboflavin and choline. It also has higher levels of minerals (calcium, potassium and magnesium).
Cow milk is certainly a great option (especially if you can get A2A2), but when it comes to dairy allergies, lactose intolerance and sensitive stomaches, you might be better off with goat milk since it is easier to digest and breakdown relative to cow's milk.
If you don't have a local option, we are now shipping our raw goat milk (with more products coming soon!) to our PMA (private member association). We ship and deliver it to you directly to your door!
Dairy has been consumed for millennia and is a very functional superfood. But don't get discouraged if you react negatively to one source. Try difference sources, and as you work on your gut health and metabolic health in parallel (which we discuss in depth in our course), you will be able to tolerate more dairy.