The only mammals that continue drinking milk after weaning from the breast or bottle are humans. Still, about 60 percent of people are thought to develop an intolerance which results in an inability to digest milk and dairy products. People with lactose intolerance don’t produce enough lactase, the enzyme that breaks down the lactose sugar present in milk. Intolerance ranges from mild to severe, so some people can drink small amounts of milk while others can’t tolerate any.
Lactose Intolerance and A2 Milk
Lactose Intolerance and A2 Milk
Lactose Intolerance Statistics
According to the Dietitians Association of Australia a2 milkTM (capital A for the protein name; lower case for the brand) has been marketed in Australia since 2003. Milk contains a lot of proteins including beta-casein with the two most common forms of beta-casein being A1 and A2. Milk branded as ‘a2 MilkTM’ has only the A2 beta-casein and is produced by the a2 Milk CompanyTM who own all intellectual property that relates to the sale and production of A1 beta-casein-free milk. The ordinary milk in supermarkets has a combination of A2 and A1 beta-casein.
Common symptoms of lactose intolerance include stomach bloating and pain, excessive wind, and watery stools after eating foods that contain lactose. However, it’s believed the milk produced from the herds of cows with only the A2 protein can be tolerated by all people and that lactose intolerant people have symptoms when they drink milk containing the A1 protein. But arguments continue between those who believe in the benefits of A2 milk and those who don’t. The sticking point is that many of the studies done that point to benefits are commissioned and/or funded by the a2 Milk Company. However, a2 sales increased by 24 percent in the last year alone, with consumers evidently believing there are benefits.
The reason some people can’t digest milk is thought to be a genetic inability to produce lactase and affects up to 100 percent of Australian Aborigines, American Indians, and Asians, 15 percent of people of northern European descent, and up to 80 percent of people of African and Latino descent. A new study has found that the ancestors of people who can tolerate lactose came from areas where dairy herds were successfully raised in Europe which implies that humans adapted to the unavailability of milk in places where dangerous diseases and harsh climates meant dairy herds couldn’t be raised. However, of those with northern European ancestry, only up to 15 percent are lactose intolerant. It’s also believed, as they grow older, people produce less lactase
When the a2 Milk company began separating its dairy cows into those with only the A2 protein and began producing milk from them it caused a milk war within the dairy industry. The a2 Milk Company took Australia by storm even though its product was more expensive than ordinary milk. And now New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra has this year (2018) partnered with the a2 Milk Company in a deal that will make the milk available widely. The main battles, however, have been around labelling.
Last December the a2 Milk Company settled a court case against rivals Pura and Dairy Farmers (owned by the Japanese beverage giant Lion Group) who added a yellow strip saying ‘naturally contains A2 protein’ on its product. Pura agreed to remove the label. Concerning the benefits of a2 Milk, the sticking point is that many of the studies to date are commissioned and/or funded by the a2 Milk Company. The settlement meant that the claims by Lion that the benefits advertised by the a2 Milk Company concerning its a2 Milk product were deceptive and misleading were not dealt with by the court.
Now many companies, including the infant formula giant Nestle SA, will sell their own brand of A2-only milk powder in China and other countries. But when it comes to infant formula and toddler milk, Jane Scott, professor of public health and nutrition research at Perth’s Curtin University (who studied a2’s claims says there are no studies in infants and children, and: ‘It’s milk – just expensive milk.’
Many claims regarding lactose intolerance rely on a 2014 study by Curtin University researchers involving 41 men and women who did a ‘dairy cleanse’ over two weeks and then drank 750ml a day of either A2 or A1 milk for another two weeks. They then had another ‘cleanse’ and swapped milk types for a further fortnight. The blind trial showed the A1 protein milk scored 61 percent higher for bloating and 38 percent higher for abdominal pain compared with A2 and was linked to softer stools.