To the vegan morning people out there, I salute you. To every other wellness-seeker reading this, are you weighing your consumption of dairy products, owing to the increasing amount of talk about cow’s milk, yoghurt and cheese, and its effects on us? You may be wondering what the right course of action is to take for your diet. Here are some thoughts.
Put simply, cow’s milk is high not only in lactose (which millions of Americans find hard to digest) but also in casein. Casein, like whey, is a protein in cow’s milk. But unlike whey, which we digest quickly (causing insulin spikes in our body when we do), casein is digested really slowly. Casein breaks down into peptides called casomorphins, and while the research around casomorphins’ habit-forming nature appears to be overblown, there is some evidence that they cause “morphine-like effects” in humans.
The good news is that there are two classes of casein: casein A1, found in most cow’s milk in this country, and casein A2, which is found in goat’s milk and sheep’s milk, as well as cows from certain regions of other countries.
Multiple studies referenced here have shown that casein A1 is the one to be avoided; its consumption has been linked to an increase in cardiovascular disease, type 1 diabetes, and even symptoms of autism and schizophrenia. Regions where consumption of casein A2 is higher have been shown to have lower incidences of heart disease and diabetes.
I want to caution that research on casein A1 vs. casein A2 is still in its early stages, but there are other reasons to favor goat’s milk and sheep’s milk over cow’s. Goat’s milk in particular has a very impressive nutritional makeup. (Sheep, unlike goats, tend to be more stressed when they’re milked, but nutritionally speaking sheep products are also a solid choice).
Not only is goat’s milk easier to digest (it contains less lactose, less whey, less casein, and smaller fat globules, meaning easier digestion by us), just look at what 1 cup of goat’s milk contains in terms of vitamin and mineral RDAs:
Vitamin A: 10%
Vitamin C: 5%
Vitamin D: 7%
Vitamin E: 1%
Vitamin K: 1%
Vitamin B6: 6%
Vitamin B12: 3%
Pantothenic Acid: 8%
That’s a similar–and in several cases superior–profile to cow’s milk, without all the digestive and potentially inflammatory effects of casein A1, and cow’s products’ high amounts of lactose and whey.
That’s why I’m declaring 2017 and every year henceforth the Year of the Goat. This is a dairy choice I think you can feel good about. Yes, the cost of goat’s milk, yoghurt and cheese is going to be higher. But this is a change I think is well worth making to your routine. And as the demand increases, the market will proliferate with more options than wonderful mainstay, the lady-owned Redwood Hill Farms, which sells goat yoghurt and kefir, and prices will lower. Let’s start a trend.
What are your thoughts on dairy? Do you have a preference? What have the effects been on your digestion and health overall?