Studies indicate A1 milk can cause several diseases including heart disease and type 1 diabetes. A2 milk, derived from indigenous cow breeds, is the safer and healthier alternative
◊ By Sanjay Bhalla
Less than 5 years ago I was unaware of different breeds of cows and the goodness of A2 milk and its derived products. I suffered from a painful arthritis condition that seemed to be getting more debilitating by the day. I was not obese by any stretch of imagination but overweight enough to be plagued with discomfort and fatigue. My HDL (high density lipoproteins) level was abysmally low at 24 as opposed to the benchmark of 40.
It was by coincidence that I landed in a village in Mathura and experienced the ghee made from desi (indigenous) cows. It was a short while later that my daughter visited a gynaecologist in London, who advised her to consume desi cow milk. This was a key turning point and prompted me to start breeding desi Gir cows closer to home in Noida as milk could not be transported from Mathura. Within a year, my HDL level went up from 24 to 42 and I shed 12 kg (this is after consuming ghee, butter and milk of desi cows regularly!). And my arthritis became a distant if rather unpleasant memory (post frequent desi ghee massages).
Such is the power of A2 milk.
“A2 milk should be consumed over 60 days before it displays its benefits. At the conclusion of this period, a lipid profile test will tend to exhibit elevated calcium levels by 20-30%, iron escalation by 30-40%, as well as, increased HDL and HDL/LDL cholesterol ratio. Consumption of this milk variety, indeed, enhances overall immunity”
In order to extol the virtues of A2 milk, I was soon distributing it among friends and relatives, who all gained health and demand grew, when ultimately, I decided to establish a company designed to cater A2 milk for the whole of Delhi NCR. Thus was ‘The Way We Were’ born. Today, we have 151 Gir cows at the farm and provide milk, curd, ghee and cottage cheese.
WHAT IS A1 & A2 MILK?
A1 and A2 beta casein (A2 beta casein is also present in human milk) are basically two types of proteins found in different milk varieties Bos Indicus (BI) cows, commonly known as Zebus, are characterised by a hump and originate in the Indian subcontinent. A2 milk is produced by this breed. Whereas, humpless European Bos taurus (BT) breeds like Holstein Friesian (HF) produce A1 milk.
A1 milk, according to scientific studies, is responsible for heart disease, arteriosclerosis, blood pressure, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), autism in children and also type 1 diabetes. The milk itself is not the devil but upon digestion of this milk variety, a peptide called BCM-7 is released in the body, which triggers the abovementioned health effects. Therein lies the trouble.
Therefore, with growing awareness backed by studies, A2 milk is increasingly being considered the healthier and safer option.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF A2 MILK
A2 milk should be consumed over 60 days before it displays its benefits. At the conclusion of this period, a lipid profile test will likely exhibit elevated calcium levels by 20-30 percent, iron escalation by 30-40 percent, as well as, increased HDL and HDL/LDL (low density lipoproteins) cholesterol ratio. Consumption of this milk variety, indeed, enhances overall immunity. Desi cow milk can be considered the most versatile and wholesome food, capable of catering for a spectrum of nutritional needs. Its curd is rich in probiotics and helps in maintaining healthy gut bacteria and sound digestion. Its buttermilk is a dense source of A2 protein and was consumed in the olden days by all and was preferred over water. The milk would fulfil their daily fluid requirement and partially meet the daily protein need, as 1 litre of A2 milk-derived buttermilk comprises approximately 30 gm of protein.
More such derivatives are cottage cheese, which is a concentrated source of protein, minerals and fats; whey water, which is rich in whey protein and ideal for muscle development; and ghee, the superfood. It contains good saturated fat, with short and medium chain essential fatty acids and molecular size, adequate for consumption even by newborns and infants. It also has conjugated linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid prescribed by doctors for cerebral development.
THE GIR COW
Gir cows belong to the Bos Indicus category and are the most prevalent amongst the indigenous breeds. All desi cows with humps are Bos Indicus and deliver A2 milk. The other desi cows breeds besides Gir are Sahiwal, Ongole, Kankrej, Tharparkar, Rathi, Haryanvi and Gangatiri, to name a few.
Although all desi breeds provide A2 milk, there has been much interbreeding and artificial insemination between Holstein Friesian and desi breeds, resulting in a large population of mixed A1/A2 breeds. By and large, the Gir is the least interbred variety and is, therefore, regarded as the most reliable and popular source of A2 milk.
HF cows are the highest milk-producing breed in India currently. However, this imported breed is not suited to hot and humid climes and is frequently injected with hormones for stability and greater yields, which leads to poor immunity and chronic diseases in them.
Abroad, the milk produced by this breed is not recommended for consumption and is used chiefly for making skimmed milk powder and cheese. Sadly, as part of the White Revolution in India (starting 1965), the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) began artificially injecting most of the indigenous breeds with the semen of BT cows, mainly the HF, in order to raise yields and augment farmers’ income.
Furthermore, the White Revolution led to crossbreeding with European (BT) cows and import of foreign hybrid breeds for higher yield and mass production. This has driven us to a scenario wherein today, the desi cow has become a dying breed in India, in desperate need of revival.
Would you believe, the Gir cow, which is a Gujarati breed, is now being imported by us from Brazil—please note the irony here! Brazil has now become the largest exporter of the Gir cow and its semen worldwide! Therefore, while we were chasing yields with imported Holstein Friesians, others acknowledged the benefits of our indigenous cows and now ‘own’ them more than us!
It is not too late, however. With growing awareness, we can collectively make a shift towards A2 milk, which will in turn bring about a revival of the indigenous breeds that bring us this elixir.
The author is Founder, The Way We Were, an A2 milk and derivatives provider in Delhi NCR