People choosing to live a healthy life have paved the way for healthier living habits. These habits comprise of adopting healthy lifestyle changes like eating healthier foods and indulging in physical activities to name a few. Organic farming has taken the world by storm and dairy industry isn’t far behind. The arguments about organic milk vs. the industrial milk are rife today. And when there’s a mention of organic milk – you cannot miss mentioning A1 and A2 milk. The arguments are in favour of A2 milk but what is it that makes it a better option than A1 milk?
What is Organic Milk?
Organic milk is obtained from cows that are fed with organic fodder and aren’t given antibiotics and growth hormones. These cows are strictly watched to avoid any stray grazing over inorganic or adulterated pastures. The cows that fall sick and need to be treated with antibiotics are then removed from the organic production utility. Organic milk, thus, is obtained from cows that are bred and raised in 100% natural living conditions without any kind of intervention either through consumption of adulterated fodder or medical treatments.
What is A1 and A2 Milk?
Milk, as known, is a great source of calcium and protein. The easiest and healthiest way to introduce calcium and protein in the regular diet is through consumption of milk. Milk is made up of a variety of proteins and casein is the largest group of proteins present in the milk. Casein makes up to 80% of the total protein content in the milk.
A1 and A2 are the two types of beta-casein that make up the large chunk of casein proteins found in milk. Regular milk contains both A1 and A2 beta-casein. The bifurcation of organic milk into A1 and A2 is done on the basis of the breed of the cow. A1 beta-casein is found in the breeds Holstein, British Shorthorn, Friesian and Ayrshire. Whereas, the A2 beta-casein is found in the breeds Jersey, Limousin, Guernsey, and Charolais.
Why is A2 milk better than A1 milk?
The entire A1 and A2 debate is based on some studies that show the harmful effects of consuming A1 milk and production of Beta-casomorphin-7 (BCM-7) is one of the major reasons behind it.
BCM-7 is produced during the digestion process after consumption of A1 milk. Studies by a select group of researchers, across the globe, suggest that production of BCM-7 in the human body can have adverse effects. Though everyone is not affected by consumption of A1 beta-casein but studies show that a growing number of people are falling prey to the harmful effects of secretion of BCM-7.
According to a study published by the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism in 2012, following are some of the harmful effects of consuming A1 milk:
- Delayed psychomotor development in infants
The BCM-7 has been found to travel to the brain through the bloodstream in infants which hampers their motor development skills thereby delaying the process.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
The human body is not acquainted with digestion of BCM-7. This can add to weak gut thereby resulting in IBS in some individuals.
- Risk of Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is often found in kids. Researches show that kids who consume A1 milk while growing up are more likely to be diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
- Coronary Heart Disease
A1 milk has higher fat content than A2 milk. The accumulation of fat in the human body can lead to risk of developing certain heart diseases.
- The occurrence of Autism or Schizophrenia in extreme cases
Studies have shown that higher levels of BCM-7 are associated with the ability to perform and plan. The high levels meddle with the brain thereby causing mental disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.
- Lactose intolerance
Lactose (sugar) intolerance is the inability to digest the sugar consumed by the body completely. Though A1 and A2 milk have the same levels of lactose, studies have found that a number of people find it difficult to digest A1 milk compared to A2 milk. There are numerous researches being conducted on this across the globe. Doctors suggest that A2 milk is the best substitute for lactose intolerant people as A2 beta-casein is easier to digest which makes it a healthier option compared to A1 milk.
It is well established and well-accepted fact that A1 and A2 milk differ in their compositions. However, in India especially, the bigger problem is the way the cows are managed, and the milk is procured – there are a lot of adulterations that happen in the whole process. When the animals are kept in a clean environment, allowed to graze in open farm, soak in the sunlight, and fed only organic fodder, the quality of milk is certainly better.