When we speak about A1 and A2 milk we are not only speaking about genetic variants. The ramifications of the milk we choose to grow, buy, and consume are health related.
While some academics argue there is no difference between the two on human health, in our own home the difference between A1 and A2 milk is the difference between itchy rashes and no itchy rashes. Learn more about what A2 milk is and how to find it.
A1 and A2 refer to the beta casein protein type. The protein in the curd part of the milk differs by one amino acid. Human breast milk, goat and sheep’s milk, and certain varieties of cow’s milk contain the A2 beta casein. However, the vast majority of cows raised in the United States are the A1 variety.
Where did A1 milk come from? It is said to have mutated several thousands of years ago among dairy herds in Europe.
How does this affect you? Most of the dairy products Americans consume come from A1 milk. Over time we are arguably undermining our health with a pro-inflammatory food. While the A2 debate has many advocates, others conjecture, from their reading, that A1 milk is benign.
My firsthand experience with A1 versus A2 milk has convinced me that there is a difference.
Although for decades Americans have understood that lactose intolerance can complicate their digestion or tolerance of pasteurized milk, research about A1 and A2 milks starting in the early 1990’s has added new insight to this common food allergy, even among those who adhere to raw milk products.
I personally thought I was no longer able to eat dairy. I had various rashes on my body that went away when I stopped eating butter, raw cheese and raw milk. Some good friends who eat a traditional diet and raise animals for their own milk and meat consumption asked me if the raw milk we were buying was A2. Honestly, I had just assumed it was. But when I asked our local raw milk farm, they said it wasn’t. My friends kindly offered a half gallon of their raw A2A2 (A2 from both of the dairy cow’s parents- the cow and the bull) milk for me to try for a full week. No rashes. And, I must add, my body flourishes on milk. I have more energy and feel more vibrant when I consume raw dairy. I crave it.
Our local raw milk farmer became passionate about acquiring an A2A2 cow, understanding with my inquiry the increasing need and demand.
What health complications are attributed to the consumption of A1 milk? Allergies, arthritis, asthma, autism, diabetes, eczema, GI distress and IBS symptoms, heart disease, autoimmune conditions, and schizophrenia. It’s been observed that those with leaky gut are more susceptible to potential harm from A1 milk.
BREEDS OF CATTLE AND A2 MILK
While it would be convenient to attach A2 milk to certain breeds of cattle, the truth is even the Jersey cow, commonly linked with A2 milk, is often A1. Only a genetic test can tell the cow’s breeding; and some sources say there are currently fewer than 2000 pure A2A2 cows in the U.S. Despite the fact that Guernsey cows produce A2 and many Dutch Belted, 75% of cows in the world are A1. Most in Asia and Africa are A2.
Cows can also, of course, be cross-breeds, producing both of the beta casein proteins: A1A2.
THE A2 MILK INDUSTRY
Over 10 years ago a company out of New Zealand introduced pure A2 milk to the grocery stores: the A2 Corporation. With some complications along the way, they now have their product in the States and its distribution is quickly growing.
In a potential conflict of interests, the A2 Corp. holds the patent for the only genetic test that can distinguish between A1 and A2 cows. The A2 Corp. uses this patent system to license producers as officially A2.
While A2 milk in stores is good news for folks who wish to replace their pasteurized A1 milk with something superior, the A2 milk company is not selling a raw milk product. Of course, they can’t. It’s illegal in the U.S. for retailers to sell raw cow’s milk and not a priority for the A2 company.
Would I buy their milk? Personally, I would only buy whole, pasteurized, A2 milk if I planned to culture it and had no source for raw A2 milk.
Pasteurized milk has been heated to high temperatures and is literally a dead food, with no living enzymes or beneficial organisms. But if it’s inoculated, if it is used to make yogurt, kefir or another fermented product, it has good potential and becomes a worthy purchase. Yet raw A2 milk is far superior. (See: Healthy Milk – What to Buy)
Looking for raw A2 milk? Ask your local grass-feeding dairy farmers. When I asked my local farmer they drove halfway across the country to acquire a new A2A2 cow who had just calved! They saw the potential and truth in my question, turned my query into a request, and started to transform their farm. They now have two A2A2 cows and plan to continue growing their herd.
I have raw A2 milk in my fridge right now and just had raw A2 ice cream with my lunch! I hope that you, too, can find local A2 milk. If I didn’t have a personal health story related to this topic I would have to speculate based on the evidence. But based on the fact that A1 milk gives me a rash and A2 milk does not, I must conclude that A2 milk is more allergy-friendly and, when purchased raw, is a true health food.
What’s the future of the A1/A2 debate? Bull breeders are taking a heavy interest. As A2 milk comes into greater demand, the shift will affect not only grass-fed raw milk farmers and large international companies like the A2 Corporation, but convention dairy farmers who must supply what consumers want. Even the mainstream industry is expected to change greatly over the next decade.