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A2 Milk and Lactose Intolerance

You probably know someone who is lactose intolerant. Maybe you are lactose intolerant. Or so your doctors have told you...

If you have heard of A2 milk, which is marketed as easier to digest, you might be wondering if A2 milk really helps lactose intolerance.

Here's the catch: A2 concerns milk proteins, while lactose is milk sugar.

Therefore, no, A2 milk will not make any difference to someone who is lactose intolerant.

The problem for most people who have trouble with milk is that store bought milk has been rendered impossible to digest, whether or not the cows are A2 or a person is truly lactose intolerant.

The problem is processed milk.

Let's get down to the basics and understand a few facts.

  • Most people are not lactose intolerant, far fewer than are diagnosed as such. Lactose is milk sugar. Most young animals stop making lactase, the enzyme to break down lactose, as they grow old enough to eat solid food. But, humans of certain ethnicities developed a genetic mutation that allowed them to continue to produce lactase into adulthood. Therefore, if your ancestors historically ate dairy products, you inherited the ability to produce lactase and you are not lactose intolerant.

  • The same types of good bacteria that culture milk into yogurt occur naturally in raw milk, and they are designed to break down lactose into easy-to-digest lactic acid. Having those bacteria in milk helps people digest it, but pasteurized milk has lost all of its native flora. So there are no friendly bacteria to give you a boost on digesting lactose when you drink store bought milk.

  • A2 milk is milk produced by cows that have not undergone a certain genetic mutation known as A1, which affects milk protein. There is a claim that some people are able to digest A2 milk better than A1 milk (most of those studies were published by a company that sells A2 milk in Australia). A2 is a protein in milk, and has nothing to do with the sugar lactose. Therefore, A2 milk will not be any easier to digest if you are truly lactose intolerant (do not produce the lactase enzyme).

  • If you are having trouble digesting proteins in milk, that is most likely because when grocery store milk gets pasteurized at the factory, it is heated as high as 280F. Think about that. The boiling point of water is 212F. In order to heat milk that high, they have to put it under enormous pressure. Proteins are extremely temperature sensitive. That intense heat denatures the proteins. When a protein has lost its natural molecular structure, the enzymes in your digestive tract no longer work on it. Plus, the enzymes within raw milk that would have helped you break it down are also destroyed by that intense heat. Pasteurized milk protein is hard to digest because of denatured proteins and enzymes, which has nothing to do with A1 or A2 cows.

Doctors will tell anyone that you are lactose intolerant just because you have trouble digesting milk. Sometimes it's the lactose, sometimes it's the protein, but in almost all cases, simply switching to raw milk solves the problem.

Now let's talk about raw milk.

Raw milk contains bacteria which produce lactase. The more often you drink raw milk, the more you establish colonies of lactase producing bacteria in your gut. They will help you break down lactose.

If you consume fermented dairy such as yogurt, kefir, clabber, and most cheeses, the lactase producing bacteria have already converted the lactose into lactic acid, making it easier to digest for people who are lactose intolerant. Hard cheeses have not only been cultured by these bacteria, but then any remaining lactose has been drained away in the whey (the liquid portion of milk). So most hard cheeses are lactose free. But all fermented dairy is lactose friendly.

The proteins in raw milk are exactly the way nature designed them, for easy digestion. They have not been denatured by heat treatment. Plus, raw milk contains enzymes which help break down its protein. This is true of both A1 and A2 cow's milk.

Bottom line is...

Big dairy companies who process milk don't have your health in mind. They treat milk as a commodity to be shipped across the country, stored for extended shelf life, and sold as cheaply as possible. This does not honor the perfect food that raw milk can and should be.

If you are having trouble digesting milk, consider that how it was processed is probably responsible, because the proteins became denatured and the lactic bacteria were destroyed. Find a good source for raw milk that was produced in sanitary conditions to ensure its safety without pasteurization. Learn how to ferment milk to render it even easier to digest.

And enjoy it.

What a precious gift given to us by beautiful animals.

Northern Spy and Niagara, spring 2023

You are probably wondering if my cows are A2. I don't know. I haven't tested them. I am content that the raw, grass fed milk that they produce is good and easy to digest for almost everyone. People have been drinking raw cows milk for thousands of years without any idea that some cows were A1 and some were A2. It didn't matter because they had no trouble drinking raw milk. That's good enough for me.

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