An article about milk and A2 casein
The bag cow from the supermarket
In the supermarket, most of the refrigerated shelves are filled with cow's milk products, which for most of us are in some form a regular and daily part of our diet. Milk production had to cope with this high demand over the last few decades. The times when everyone was greeted by their own cow outside the window in the morning and tapped their own fresh glass of milk are long gone. The milk supply from regional farms in the area is hardly used anymore - what if you live in the middle of the city center without a car? Milk from the supermarket delivered by large companies - none of this would be a problem if something hadn't gone wrong with the scaling of milk production.
It starts with the cow
“The brown ones give cocoa” my father told me when I was on holiday in Austria with my parents as a child. Easy to believe if it weren't for the purple cow on the Milka pack, which is nowhere to be found. But cacao or not, the milk from cows of the Ur-Kuh breed was excellent and it had to be, because it was intended exclusively for the calf, which was to grow big and strong one day. A cow used to give about 8 liters of milk a day. Today it is up to 50 liters. whoops What has happened there? The most productive dairy cows were picked out and crossed with one another again and again. Again and again over many years until finally a high-performance cow was obtained, whose sole purpose in life today is the mass production of milk.
These cows serve our dairy industry and enable the average German consumer to consume 50 liters of milk and 25 kg of cheese annually (Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food 2018).
Unfortunately, with such quantities, quantity comes before quality, and the conditions for keeping the dairy cows have deteriorated considerably as a result. This is not only terrible for the animals, but also for us. Because a free, happily grazing cow produces much more nutritious milk than a cow behind bars in overcrowded stables. But it is not just the nutrient density of the milk that has deteriorated as a result of the overbreeding culture, the structure and ratio of the proteins it contains have also changed. This mainly affects the casein protein in milk.
What is casein?
The two most important proteins from milk that we can utilize are the so-called whey protein (popular among strength athletes and known as "whey protein") and casein, which is used in the production of cheese and low-fat quark products, among other things. As you may have noticed yourself: after half a kilogram of low-fat quark or a hearty cheese platter, you are full for quite a long time. Why is that? Apart from the fact that natural whole milk or full-fat cheese fills you up even longer than half-fat products, precisely because of the full fat content - it is due to the milk casein. Casein is absorbed by your body over a longer period of time than whey protein. Your body needs about 30-60 minutes to utilize the protein structures of whey protein and at least 140 minutes for casein.
So what takes longer to digest usually fills you up longer, because if your body is still busy digesting a certain food, then it won't immediately be crying out for new food. That's why I started supplementing whey protein with casein in my contest diet. Of course you can also do without all these powders with an unprocessed and balanced diet. But satiety isn't necessarily something you get bored with on a diet. A high-protein diet can counteract the feeling of hunger.
Now what's the problem with the casein?
There are different variants of casein. Due to our cow breeding culture, today's dairy cow is genetically far removed from the original cattle breeds. This is how it happened that the original casein protein was mutated in its so-called A2-beta structure to an A1 casein protein. There are only a few British Jersey and Guernsey cows left today that produce pure A2 milk. Most cows are mixed types or only give milk with A1 casein protein. Unfortunately, this also applies to conventional milk from the supermarket.
The mutation from A2 to A1 casein happened faster than our digestive system could adapt to this new structure. The difference between A1 and A2 casein is precisely that A1 casein is very difficult for us to digest and is therefore poorly tolerated. Things that are difficult to digest put stress on your intestines and it can happen that your intestinal mucosa becomes more permeable if there is too much stress. One or the other may nod in agreement because they have known about the "leaky gut" syndrome for a long time and are doing everything they can to keep their intestinal flora in check.
A1 casein and highly processed dairy products can stress your gut, and because a leaky gut lets more through, it's less accurate in distinguishing between good and bad ingredients in the food you eat. These then get into the bloodstream faster and can also attack your immune system. Studies on A1 casein and intestinal health showed that gastrointestinal complaints occur with the consumption of A1 dairy products, but not with the consumption of A2 dairy products. (Brooke-Taylor et al. 2017; He et al. 2017; Jianqin et al. 2016)
And just to anticipate, A1 casein remains A1 casein, regardless of whether it's milk and low-fat quark or dry cow. So if you regularly shovel cheap casein powder, you won't do your intestines any good either. Unfortunately, I also had to notice this in the competition diet. Even the long saturation doesn't help anymore if you look like you're five months pregnant in the evening because you're so bloated. (In the photo you can see a snapshot, backstage from the Bodybuilding Championship NRW 5)
And A2 casein doesn't do anything to the intestines?
Of course, the tolerance of milk and milk products is still individual, like any nutritional issue. General statements cannot be made here. But A2 casein is at least broken down differently by our intestines than A1 casein and is therefore also considered to be more digestible. You can find out exactly how this works in the intestines in the blog article "Depending on the cow". Unfortunately, today there are only a few breeds of cattle (British Jersey and Guernsey cows) that give pure A2 milk. Most cows are mixed types or only give milk with A1 casein protein. Sheep and goat milk, on the other hand, almost exclusively produce A2 milk. This is one reason why we include in our products Casein from goat's milk use.
What can you do?
So if you tend to have a high consumption of milk and dairy products and occasionally suffer from digestive problems, you might be doing your body something good if you use option 1 – reduce dairy products (you may also have a lactose intolerance), or option 2 on the quality of your dairy products pay attention High-quality dairy products come from grazing animals and are ideally already pre-fermented, e.g. natural yoghurt, kefir or cheese. These are products that have already matured for a certain amount of time and are therefore easier for your body to digest. They already contain larger amounts of lactic acids and intestinal probiotics. Furthermore, you can consciously use goat and sheep milk products, which certainly contain A2 casein and have many other advantages over cow's milk products.
Rob the cow
Of course, we can also do without any dairy products at all, because the consumption of milk is actually only intended for the offspring. We don't drink breast milk anymore. Babies, however, need the nutrients from milk that they cannot yet extract themselves in order to get big and strong quickly, i.e. to grow quickly. As a rule, we no longer have to do that and dairy products often lead to completely different things growing in us, which we don't want, such as pimples or maybe even tumours. Even if you don't know exactly the latter, certain types of milk are suspected of triggering acne or making it worse (Dai et al. 2018; Ulvestad et al. 2017).
So sometimes less is more here, too, but a strict renunciation is probably not necessary as long as you pay attention to the quality and origin of your products. There is nothing wrong with a well-ripened organic yoghurt with live probiotics. It will do your microbiome more good than harm.
Brooke-Taylor, Simon; Dwyer, Karen; Woodford, Keith; Kost, Natalya (2017): Systematic Review of the Gastrointestinal Effects of A1 Compared with A2 β-Casein. In: Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.) 8 (5), pp. 739-748. DOI: 10.3945/an.116.013953.
Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (2018): Report on the market and supply situation with milk and milk products.
Dai, R.; Hua, W.; Chen, W.; Xiong, L.; Li, L. (2018): The effect of milk consumption on acne: a meta-analysis of observational studies. In: Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology : JEADV 32(12), pp. 2244-2253. DOI: 10.1111/jdv.15204.
Hey Mei; Sun, Jianqin; Jiang, Zhuo Qin; Yang, Yue Xin (2017): Effects of cow's milk beta-casein variants on symptoms of milk intolerance in Chinese adults: a multicentre, randomized controlled study. In: Nutrition journal 16 (1), p. 72.
Jianqin, Sun; Leiming, Xu; Lu, Xia; Yelland, Gregory W.; Ni, Jiayi; Clarke, Andrew J. (2016): Effects of milk containing only A2 beta casein versus milk containing both A1 and A2 beta casein proteins on gastrointestinal physiology, symptoms of discomfort, and cognitive behavior of people with self-reported intolerance to traditional cows' milk . In: Nutrition journal 15, p. 35.
Ulvestad, M.; Bjertness, E.; Dalgard, F.; Halvorsen, JA (2017): Acne and dairy products in adolescence: results from a Norwegian longitudinal study. In: Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology : JEADV 31(3), pp. 530-535. DOI: 10.1111/jdv.13835.