Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Devil with a Milk Mustache?

Remember the song Devil with a Blue Dress? Forget the blue dress. Maybe we need to look for the Devil with the white mustache instead.
We already know that conventional milk has major issues, but beware of A1 beta casein in conventional and organic. It’s everywhere in the U.S. milk supply. Thomas Cowan, M.D., a noted authority on this topic, says we have the “wrong kind of cows” for health. Cowan points out that most cows are A1 cows and give milk that has a small, yet significant, amount of something called A1 beta casein.

What’s so bad about A1 beta casein? Epidemiological studies implicate A1 beta casein as a direct or indirect cause of cardiovascular, blood sugar and mental health problems.

On the other hand, however, Dr. Cowan is quick to say that raw and cultured organic dairy products from pasture fed cows that produce milk without beta casein A1 are some of the healthiest foods on the planet. Approximately 99 percent of U.S. cows’ milk contains this milk devil, including raw, pasteurized, organic and conventional milk—and milk products can result in widespread unhealthy ramifications. I repeat: nearly all raw milk contains beta casein A1.

So, what’s the difference between beta casein A1 and A2? Plenty.

Dr. Cowan has long held an interest in our milk supply, but his passion was further ignited when he wrote a foreword to the book Devil in the Milk, written by agribusiness professor and farm management consultant Dr. Keith Woodford, who pinpoints the health “devil” in most milk. 

As you might guess, this topic is “fodder” for some heated debates. You can check out Dr. Woodford’s stance—as well as an opposing viewpoint— here:

Devil in the Milk highlights that milk consists of three parts: fat or cream, whey and milk solids. Milk solids (not the fat, cream or whey) are where the “devil” in milk materializes because the milk’s solid part is made up of many different proteins of various names, as well as lactose and other sugars. The protein parts of the milk solid are the focus. One of these proteins is called casein. There are many different types of casein, but the protein beta casein is called out in the book.

Here’s an overview: all proteins are long chains of amino acids that have branches coming off the various parts of the main chain. Beta casein is a 229 chain of amino acids with a branched-out proline at number 67—at least in “old fashioned” cows such as Jerseys, Asian and African cows. Cows with the proline at number 67 are cows that produce A2 beta casein, but DO NOT produce A1 beta casein.

Two thousand years ago or so, however, a mutation happened in this proline amino acid and converted it to histidine. Cows which have this mutated beta casein (histidine) are A1 beta casein producing cows, and the side chain that comes off this amino acid is BCM 7, which has ill effects on animal and human health.

Fortunately for us, proline (in the old-fashioned A1-free cows) has a strong bond that keeps BCM 7 from getting into the milk. However, that’s not the case with histidine and the modern A1-producing cows. Histidine, the mutated protein, only marginally holds on to BCM 7.

That means BCM 7 gets into the milk of the cows and is passed on to the humans who drink it, and research indicates that BCM 7 can adversely affect neurological, immune, blood sugar, heart, inflammatory and other systems and pathways. That’s serious, too, because nearly all American dairy cows have this mutated gene to produce beta casein A1.

So, watch out for the "devil" with an A1 milk mustache. Instead, choose dairy products free from beta casein A1.