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Know Your Food: A2 Milk

With the increasing popularity of “dairy-free” products, it’s evident that many people are looking for an alternative to regular cow’s milk, and more specifically the digestive issues that often come with it. Of these alternatives, A2 milk is one of the trendiest, popping up on grocery stores shelves everywhere. But what exactly is it, and is A2 milk really better for your health?
Know Your Food: A2 Milk
The Basics: What is A2 milk?

Cow’s milk is made up of about 87% water and 13% solids, with the solids being fat, carbs, minerals, and protein. Casein makes up about 80% of the protein in milk, and 30% of that is made up specifically of beta-casein protein.

That’s where A2 comes in. A1 and A2 protein are both variants of beta-casein protein, and both are commonly found in cow’s milk. However, there are some cows that don’t produce the A1 variant. Therefore, A2 milk, more accurately referred to as A2A2 milk, comes from these cows, and contains only the A2 protein type.

How does A2 milk differ from “regular” milk?

While regular cow’s milk and A2 milk are produced in the same way, the difference is the cows that the milk is coming from. Regular cow’s milk found at the grocery store typically comes from a variety of cows, some that produce both A1 and A2 proteins and some that only produce one or the other. However, in modern milk production, all these different milks typically get mixed together, resulting in milk that contains both kinds of protein. Therefore, regular milk almost always contains both A1 and A2 protein types.
Know Your Food: A2 Milk
Why is A2 milk better than “regular” milk?

Approximately one in four people have trouble digesting dairy, but published research suggests A2 milk does not cause the digestive issues that have been associated with regular milk, and more specifically the A1 protein type. In fact, historically all cows naturally produced only the A2 protein. Overtime, a natural mutation occurred that resulted in cows producing the A1 protein as well. As these cows were continuously bred, more of them produced A1, and eventually the vast majority of regular milk contained this newer and less digestible protein.

Some people that have trouble digesting milk assume it is due to the lactose, but research suggests that some of them could find a solution in A2 milk. Unlike other types of milk on the market that claim to be more digestible than traditional milk, A2 milk is the only one that does not undergo heavy processing. Lactose-free milk for instance, requires specific chemical additions to improve its digestibility. But A2 milk is a completely natural product that on its own and without any processing is more digestible — you just need to start with the right cows.

Where can I buy A2 milk?

While many dairy cows produce A1 protein, there are plenty that only produce A2, making A2 milk a fairly accessible product. Genetic testing can determine whether or not a cow produces A2 or A1 type protein in its milk, making it simple for producers to use only A2 cows if desired.

Although you may find milk at the grocery store labeled A2 now, this label does not tell you anything else about how the milk was produced. In fact, A2 milk can be produced on industrial farms with unethical and unhealthy practices. In order to get the best possible product for your health and for the environment, it’s important to get A2 milk from pastured, grass-fed cows. As with any other food, finding a local producer — and avoiding industrial farms — is the best way to go. For example, if you are in Ohio, you may want to seek out milk produced by
Buckeye Country Creamery
in Ashland. Their milk is low temperature vat pasteurized with natural cultures and comes exclusively from family owned herd of certified A2 cows.

As the popularity of A2 milk continues to rise, one thing is clear: it is yet another example of the importance of knowing where your food comes from, and in this case, which cows!
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