Everyone should drink milk. Not only is it one of the most nutritionally complete foods available, it tastes bloody lovely and is one of the cheapest, and yet richest, dietary sources out there.
However, for the 15% of the UK population thought to be lactose intolerant, regular cows’ milk just isn’t an option. With a further nine out of ten Britons believing themselves to have some sort of food allergy or intolerance, it’s not surprising that dairy is often the first thing to go.
Earlier this year I was advised to try a four-week elimination diet in order to figure out which food groups I was having difficulty digesting. Already having spent the past few years adjusting to a wheat-free diet, these new restrictions on onions, garlic, citrus fruits, sugar, grains and dairy were predictably challenging, but it was the absence of cows’ milk that I really struggled with. Anyone who applauds “milk” alternatives such as almond, coconut, soya and rice milk clearly doesn’t enjoy a good cup of tea, and no matter how much I tried to pretend that dairy was to blame for my problems, I couldn’t help but feel resentful for all the calcium I was missing out on.
Naturally then, milk was the first thing to be reintroduced to my diet and (thankfully) my body accepted it like a long-lost friend. Unfortunately, for many people milk isn’t so forgiving and it seems a shame that so many people are missing out on milk’s high levels high levels of protein, phosphorus, potassium and other vitamins and minerals. Bloating, indigestion and digestive problems are all common complaints and yet such self-diagnosis could be confusing lactose-intolerance with an allergy to cows’ milk, and more specifically the A1 protein within it.
Cows’ milk contains two different types of protein: A1 and A2. In 1997, New Zealander Dr Corran McLachlan discovered the impact these different proteins have, and so the a2 Milk Company was born.
With their 20 herds of pure a2 British cows, the a2 Milk Company have developed a 100% natural cows’ milk that’s void of the A1 protein that’s to blame for so much digestive discomfort. Just as sourdough puts an end to the gliadin vs glutenin dilemma behind gluten intolerance, a2 milk effectively cuts out the dodgy A1 protein and could help thousands of sufferers re-introduce cows’ milk to their kitchens.
“These differences in protein composition between a2 Milk and other milk varieties mean that you may well feel the difference after drinking a2 Milk and find that your body prefers it.” – a2 Milk Company
It’s important to note that this milk is not lactose-free, and if you’ve been diagnosed as lactose intolerant by a doctor or medical professional then a2 milk is not going to help. However, for many people, an aversion to the A1 milk protein is a lot more likely than a lactose intolerance – and a whole lot easier to deal with. It tastes just like regular cows’ milk (a fact I was constantly surprised by, despite the fact it is still just regular cows’ milk) and made no difference to any of my usual milk-reliant recipes such as chocolate protein pancakes and gluten-free bread. In fact, the absence of the A1 protein is so unnoticeable that my two-week a2 Milk Challenge had to be abandoned (or at least renamed) as there was really nothing challenging about it.
Price-wise it is more expensive than regular cows’ milk (typically £1.99 for 2L), but considerably cheaper than other non-dairy alternatives. It’s also far easier to get hold of than you’d expect, with Tescos, Morrisons, Waitrose and Ocado all stocking it on their shelves.
All in all it seems a2 milk is an ideal solution for anyone who loves milk but just can’t stomach it, the company living up to their promise of “bringing back the pleasure of drinking milk”.