Despite the fact that the dairy industry is centuries old, it’s estimated that a fifth of Brits report adverse effects such as an upset stomach, bloating , constipation and eczema after drinking milk or consuming dairy products, and while much of these reactions are attributed to a lactose intolerance, a study published earlier this week in Nutrition Journal indicates that many people could in fact be sensitive to a particular protein found in milk.
A trial run with 600 participants in China, where it’s thought that 90 per cent of the population have an intolerance to cow’s milk, revealed that many of the previously reported unpleasant dairy side-effects cleared up when the A1 protein was removed from milk, rather than lactose. Participants drank 300ml of milk, with symptoms monitored after one, three and 12 hours of consumption, and those in the A2 protein only group showed a dramatic improvement in digestive symptoms in particular in all tests. Cows are already bred to produce milk containing only the A2 protein in the UK (you may have spied A2 milk in supermarket fridges), but this is the most expansive study ever conducted on the impact of A1 and A2 milk protein on human health, possibly solving the mystery of why many people who report nasty side-effects after consuming milk test negative for lactose intolerance. Simply removing the A1 beta-casein protein from milk seems to allow people who otherwise assumed they were intolerant to cow’s milk to pour it on their cornflakes or whip up a latte with no unpleasant side-effects, and could be good news not only for upping calcium levels , but also for flagging British dairy industry.
It should be noted that A2 milk isn’t lactose-free, so it’s to be avoided by anyone who is lactose intolerant, and steer clear if you have a diagnosed cow’s milk protein allergy, but for others it could make a morning tea break a joy once more. At £1.39 a litre, however, it’s more expensive than a regular pint of milk, but then again not as spendy as some of the freshly squeezed nut juices on the market (£4.40 for a litre of ‘pure’ almond milk anyone?!). If you’re a dairy lover yet dairy doesn’t appear to love you back, A2 may well be the answer.