A2 milk, fewer intolerances and gut benefits

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A2 milk-that is, that which contains only the A2 variant of beta-casein-is also beginning to establish itself in Italy. It comes from cows of breeds generally neglected for lower productivity and is distinguished by some health benefits. Some scientific studies have indeed shown its better acceptability by individuals with intolerances and protective function on the gut in the elderly population. As is also evident from research conducted as part of the PROLAT project, just published in Nutrients. (1)

A valuable food

Milk is considered a valuable food as a source of protein, vitamins and minerals that is combined with a low energy density. And that is also why the Italian Guidelines for Healthy Nutrition suggest daily consumption of 2-3 servings of milk or yogurt. Among other things, this intake was associated with a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease in the largest study ever conducted on correlations between milk consumption and health published in The Lancet (2018).

Milk protein (about 32g/l) consists mainly of caseins (80 percent) and a smaller proportion of whey (20 percent). Of these, beta-casein is the second most abundant in cow’s milk. The most represented genetic variants are named A1 and A2.

A2 milk, a matter of casein

The type of beta-casein present in milk depends on the breed of the cow. Some species produce milk that contains only the A2 variant, while the most widespread European cattle (selected for higher productivity) produce milk with a combination of the two beta-casein variants A1 and A2.

A2 milk is generally considered more digestible because-unlike milk with beta-casein A1-it does not produce the protein fragment BCM 7 (beta-casomorphin-7) during digestion. Which is associated in some studies with slower digestion and other disorders. (1)

A2 milk, the benefits

A2 milk thus seems to amplify the benefits of habitual milk consumption, bringing additional benefits and eliminating the most well-known ailments. The Agrifood Cluster of the Piedmont Region-partner in the PROLAT project-summarizes the evidence from the many studies on the subject. (2) According to these studies, A2 milk consumption can:

– Improve gastrointestinal symptoms of discomfort associated with milk digestion, particularly in cases of lactose intolerance,

– Promote faster gastrointestinal transit time,

– contribute to improved intestinal well-being by promoting favorable microbial fermentations and intestinal mucosal integrity.

A2 milk, where to find it

Therefore, the A2 variant, free from BCM 7, is the subject of extensive study, and supply chain investment. In Australia and the United States, A2 milk has been an established market reality for several years. And it is beginning to spread to many other countries, thanks to consumers’ growing appreciation for products that also express values related to supply chain integrity and other benefits.

In Italy, the first A2 milk to appear on the market is‘Gusto di una volta‘, which Granarolo launched in 2017. More recently, the Turin Milk Plant has put the LAATTE Tapporosso line on the market. In the meantime, new productions by smaller farms, engaged in the production of milk and cheese containing only beta-casein A2, are flourishing.

The Salvaderiorganic farm, to cite a virtuous example, thus presents the conversion of its dairy cow herd, from Holstein to Guernsey breed, strictly pasture-raised:

‘The Guernsey Cow’, is an ancient breed of cattle, neglected in recent decades by most breeders because of its low production yield (about 24 liters per day compared to the Holstein’s 40), but capable of producing a milk whose nutritional and organoleptic level has really complete and valuable characteristics for human beings and especially for the growth of children (A2 A2 beta casein, high levels of beta carotene, antioxidants, a high and particularly balanced intake of Omega 3 and Omega 6)’.

Marta Strinati

Notes

(1) Guantario, B.; Giribaldi, M.; Devirgiliis, C.; Finamore, A.; Colombino, E.; Capucchio, M.T.; Evangelista, R.; Motta, V.; Zinno, P.; Cirrincione, S.; Antoniazzi, S.; Cavallarin, L.; Roselli, M. A Comprehensive Evaluation of the Impact of Bovine Milk Containing Different Beta-Casein Profiles on Gut Health of Ageing Mice. Nutrients 2020, 12, 2147. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12072147

CREA, CNR-ISPA, the Universities of Turin and Pisa, Polo Agrifood Piemonte, and Laemmegroup srl are participating in the PROLAT project-funded under the Piedmont Region’s POR FESR 2014-2020 program.

2) Beta-casomorphins are associated with.

– Alteration of gastrointestinal functions. Zoghbi, S.; Trompette, A.; Claustre, J.; El Homsi, M.; Garzon, J.; Jourdan, G.; Scoazec, J.Y.; Plaisancie, P. Beta-Casomorphin-7 regulates the secretion and expression of gastrointestinal mucins through a mu-opioid pathway. Am. J. Physiol. Gastrointest. Liver Physiol. 2006, 290, G1105-G1113 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16357059/

– cardiovascular disease. McLachlan, C.N. Beta-casein A1, ischaemic heart disease mortality, and other illnesses. Med. Hypotheses 2001, 56, 262-272. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306987700912659?via%3Dihub

– Elliott, R.B.; Harris, D.P.; Hill, J.P.; Bibby, N.J.; Wasmuth, H.E. Type I (insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus and cow milk: Casein variant consumption. Diabetologia 1999, 42, 292-296 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10096780/

– Schizophrenia and Autism, Cade, R.; Privette, M.; Fregly, M.; Rowland, N.; Sun, Z.; Zele, V.; Wagemaker, H.; Edelstein, C. Autism and Schizophrenia: Intestinal Disorders. Nutr. Neurosci. 2000, 3, 57-72 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1028415X.2000.11747303

The correlations found in the above studies were rejected by EFSA (2009), which nevertheless recognizes how casomorphins may exert different actions in the intestinal lumen and mucosa. Including regulatory effects on gastrointestinal motility and gastric and pancreatic secretions. European Food Safety Authority. Review of the potential health impact of β-casomorphins and related peptides. DOI: 10.2903/j.efsa.2009.231r https://efsa.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.2903/j.efsa.2009.231r

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Professional journalist since January 1995, he has worked for newspapers (Il Messaggero, Paese Sera, La Stampa) and periodicals (NumeroUno, Il Salvagente). She is the author of journalistic surveys on food, she has published the book "Reading labels to know what we eat".