The Best Milk To Do The Body Good

on May 20, 2016
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How Does The A1/A2 Debate Affect My Milk Choice?

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I grew up on fresh milk. From the cow to the glass. Papa taught me to milk before I was 7 years old. Betsy, the jersey milk cow was the first cow I milked. Who knew there’s a best milk for the body? I took for granted the goodness of raw, organic milk in the morning.

For the last 30 years, there’s been a strong push to make us believe raw milk is not good for us. It’s even illegal in many states. We are told raw milk, which has been used since the dawn of civilization, is no longer safe unless it’s treated with pasteurization and homogenization. If we are to believe the advocates for the pasteurization of all milk at all costs, raw milk is as bad as rat poison. The fact is, the human race existed long before Pasteur was ever heard of and milk has been consumed in its raw form since the beginning of time.

Pasteurization

We should at least understand what pasteurization does. It sets out to accomplish two things: destruction of certain disease-carrying germs and the prevention of souring milk. These results are obtained by keeping the milk at a temperature of 145 degrees to 150 degrees F for half an hour.

After this, the temperature is reduced to not more than 55 degrees F. Pasteurization does more than destroy dangerous germs, it also kills off useful bacteria at the same time. By subjecting the milk to high temperatures, nutritious components are destroyed as well.

Sour, raw milk is still widely used in many countries. It’s given to invalids because it’s easily digested and is a good laxative without many of the common side effects of modern medicines. Pasteurization kills the lactic acid bacilli. This means the milk cannot sour naturally but instead decomposes which allows unwanted germs to quickly multiply.

Since I was raised on raw milk and my ancestors relied on it for so many of their dietary needs, we believe raw milk, having a longer and better track record, is the best milk for our family’s health. As with all the things we talk about, you have to make the best decision for you and yours, I am simply saying it works best for us.

However, the best milk issue goes deeper than simply raw milk vs. pasteurized milk. What do I mean? Well, it all starts with what kind of cow you get your milk from. Over the years, I’ve been told by friends visiting from other countries: “American milk will make you sick.” It turns out they could be onto something. More and more research suggests many of the 1 in 4 Americans who exhibit symptoms of lactose intolerance could instead be unable to digest A1 milk.

What Does A1 and A2 Mean?

I’m not a milk scientist, but I can tell you what I have studied and read. I met and talked with a man who worked with the State of Idaho dairy farmer’s. His job was to help them establish healthy herds and pastures. As part of his job, he educated them on the importance of breeding and buying A2A2 cows.

Basically, the solids found in cow’s milk are composed of fat, protein, lactose and minerals. Beta-casein is one of six milk proteins and is produced by the CSN2 gene. Twelve genetic variants of CSN2 are known to cause changes in certain amino acids in the beta-casein protein and alter its properties.

These variants can be classified into two groups, A1 and A2. These variants code for different amino acids at one specific site in the gene. Too technical for me, but I get the general gist of what he’s saying. When researchers first categorized the exact makeup of Beta Casein protein, the first one was numbered A1.

Later, a chain was discovered which had a difference in the 67th amino acid and it was numbered A2. When tracing the genetics, it was discovered that the A2 gene was in fact the original and the A1 gene is a mutation. We’re told this mutation originated unknown years ago in European cattle. There has actually been a total of 12 bovine beta casein variants found which are mutations of the original A2 gene.

The Reason For The “A1 vs A2” Debate

A1 is a protein most often found in milk from the high-producing Holstein cows which dominant most American and some European dairies. The A1 protein is much less prevalent in milk from Jersey, Guernsey, Scotch Highland, and most Asian and African cow breeds.

With breeding and how it affects the results in offspring when you breed an A2/A2 with an A2/A2, there are 2 copies of A2 present. This means you have an A2/A2 offspring. When you breed an A1/A2 with an A2/A2 animal, there’s one copy of A2 present, 50% of their offspring will be A2/A2. A1/A1 has no copies of A2 present so their offspring is, of course, A1/A1. Whew! Did you get that?

“We’ve got a huge amount of observational evidence that a lot of people can digest the A2, but not the A1,” says Keith Woodford, a professor of farm management and agribusiness at New Zealand’s Lincoln University. He wrote the 2007 book Devil in the Milk: Illness, Health, and the Politics of A1 and A2 Milk. He goes on to say: “More than 100 studies suggest links between the A1 protein and a whole range of health conditions” everything from heart disease to diabetes to autism. Though some people contend the evidence is far from conclusive, but isn’t this usually the case.

best-milk

The First Calf Papa Gave Me To Train To Milk – Star

Now, all this study and research has its place, but it doesn’t really carry that much weight with me. I feel this way mostly because for every study done by one research group, I can find another test result by another group which says the exact opposite.

The A1A1 dairies, which dominate the American market, make their money selling millions of gallons of milk in the stores. The possibility of certain groups getting paid to put out studies and research with a predetermined favorable outcome is high. I would guess this happens more times in research than we would like to admit. So how do I know what research or book to believe on the subject of what the best milk is for my family?  I listen to my own body.

We did a blind taste test. My husband says we should redo it and video it to share with you. I’ll update this article and share the video when we make it. In this taste test, I was blindfolded. Then my husband poured three glasses of milk. One was pasteurized, organic milk we bought at our local grocery store; one was raw A1A1 milk we bought from a health food store 50 miles to the north of us; the third one was raw A2A2 milk purchased from a health food store about 40 miles to the east of us. Each time I was able to pick out raw, unpasteurized A2/A2 milk over raw, unpasteurized A1/A1 milk, and who couldn’t taste the difference between store bought A1 pasteurized milk when compared to A2/A2 raw milk? That’s really easy to do.

As a matter of fact, it isn’t hard to tell them apart just by looking at the milk in the glass. I grew up on A2A2 milk and never had any problems. When I got married and moved away, we drank store bought A1 milk. I began having all manner of digestion related issues. I received a diagnosis of lactose intolerance from my doctor.

I had never even heard of such a thing. He told me I would suffer with this for the rest of my life. You know me, I’m not one to surrender so easily to any “condition.” I did a 14 day cleanse and returned to raw A2 milk. I was no longer lactose intolerant! I’ve not had any problem again. What a relief!

I love milk and all of its wonderful uses in the kitchen! Remember, you are what your animals eat. The best milk comes from grass fed cows. Not just any grass, but grass grown in healthy, living soil. Nutrient rich pasture land makes for the best milk along with non-GMO grain. Cows fed this nutrient dense diet are, in my experience and opinion, the producers of the best milk to do the body good.

Is there a cut and dry answer to the question of what is the best milk for the body? For us there is, but we base this on our own experience. Like all things, you have to make the best decision you can for yourself and your family. After you make the decision, move on in confidence you did the research, you experimented yourself, and you made the best decision you could.

Safe and Happy Journey,

Rhonda and The Pack

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11 Comments

  • Charlotte Moore

    Just wondering how do you know if the milk is A1 or A2. I’ve never heard of this before. I’ve been unable to have milk for the last couple of years due to digestive issues from it.

    May 21, 2016 at 1:21 pm Reply
    • Rhonda Crank

      Charlotte, If you buy milk in the store, it is most probably A1 because the majority (minuscule dairies run A2 cows) of American dairies use A1 cows to milk. I hate you’re not able to enjoy milk. I’ve been there so I know how frustrating the symptoms can be. As a breed, there are of course exceptions due to breeding practices of different farmers, Jersey, Guernsey, Brown Swiss, and Scotch Highland are A2 breeds. Of course what we feed the cow matters too. GMOs fed to an A2 cow can still cause intestinal problems. We have a food co-op store 40 miles away where we buy our milk. A local organic dairy of A2 Jersey cows sells their milk there. It has been a great blessing to us.

      Hopefully we can be in the position to have our own herd again soon. We will go with Scotch Highland because of their tolerance for our climate. I would suggest looking for a local farmer of one of these breeds and working with them to get your milk. Careful of raw milk laws in your area. Please let me know if I can help in any way.

      May 25, 2016 at 9:21 am Reply
  • Linda

    We are trying to get a law passed here in Louisiana so that farmers can sell raw milk. It failed again by ONE VOTE.
    I am so frustrated!

    I remember when my Granny still was able to get milk delivered by the milkman. And the milk bottles all had a couple inches of cream on the top. What was good enough for her generation should be good enough for us; but the people who tell us GMOs are good, say no.

    If we had enough space for a milk cow, I would get one. But we don’t. When hubby grew up, his dad had a dairy. But the prices crashed and they were one of the small dairy’s that dumped the milk in the ditches, back in the late 60s, early 70s, I think it was.

    There used to be hundreds of small dairies in Louisiana, now there are maybe a dozen. So sad.

    We struggle with a younger son who has digestion problems. No allergies, they tell us. If you are intolerant, you are on your own. Right now they say IBS. Cutting out High Fructose Corn Syrup seems to have helped some, but he still has trouble eating things without getting sick. He hasn’t drunk any store bought milk in ages, but when milk is used in something, how do I know it’s not A1 milk?

    We tried goat milk, because I read some people can tolerate that when they can’t tolerate cow milk, but that didn’t work either.

    Sorry. Off subject. I wish the government would get out of our pantries, and let US decide if we want raw milk or store milk. Thanks for this article.

    May 22, 2016 at 8:49 am Reply
    • Rhonda Crank

      Linda, I’m sorry y’all are experiencing such difficulties. I too remember when milk was milk and gmos weren’t an issue. However, even A2 cows fed GMO feed can cause bowel problems. We experienced the same thing. Once we removed the GMOs and processed foods from our diet, our bodies healed from them. If you get milk from the store, it’s most probably A1 because the majority of American dairies use A1 cows to milk. As a breed, there are always exceptions because of unknown breeding factors, Jersey, Guernsey, Scotch Highland, and Brown Swiss are A2 cows. I’m not saying they’re the only ones, just that as a breed they are considered A2. If you can find a local farmer who has one of these breeds or knows if his cows are A2 or not, I would try “buying” milk from them.

      I’m not surprised removing high fructose corn syrup helped, it’s a major source of GMO for the American diet. Please let me know if I can help you in any way. All my best and thanks for sharing with me.

      May 25, 2016 at 9:16 am Reply
  • Angie Morris

    I too, was told I was lactose intolerant and for a couple of years, bought the lactose-free milk from the store. It helped, but I was not “symptom free”. One day, in my quest for pork fat for rendering, I discovered a raw dairy farm. I inquired about raw milk and explained about my being lactose intolerant. Farmer Rich also cited that some folks which are presumed to be lactose intolerant have no problems with raw milk. They raise Jersey, Guernsey, and Brown Swiss.
    I tried their raw milk and never looked back! I have no problems when I consume raw dairy. As a side note, I ended up helping out on their farm, milking and delivering! I loved my time spent on the farm!
    When we relocated to Utah, I could not find a raw milk source in my area, but I did find a dairy that offered low-pasteurized, non-homogenized milk. While I didn’t experience near the problems as I did with store bought milk, I did still have some problems. I am very happy that last month, I found a raw milk provider again…Jerseys!!!!

    May 22, 2016 at 9:54 am Reply
    • Rhonda Crank

      Angie, Sounds like you’ve found the answer. Jerseys are, as a whole, A2 cows. Guernsey and Brown Swiss also. I’m so glad you have some relief and are able to get the best milk for your body! Thanks for sharing your journey with us!

      May 25, 2016 at 9:09 am Reply
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  • Becca

    When I was a kid, all I had was raw milk, straight from the farm. When I grew up, all I had was store bought milk. Once we switched over to store bought, I stopped drinking milk as often. I just didn’t like the taste as much. I also prefer raw milk over store bought. There is a big difference and I really do think it’s better for us!

    December 21, 2016 at 10:06 am Reply
    • Rhonda Crank

      Becca, Thank you for stopping in to share with us. Your body told you it didn’t like it and you listened, Good job! You’re right, there is an indescribable difference.

      December 22, 2016 at 8:29 am Reply

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