Milk Myth: Is cow milk bad for you and your child in real sense?


Externally cow milk looks like a complete food package loaded with energy, protein, calcium, vitamins, minerals. But today question arises-is it really fit for human consumption? Is cow milk good or is cow milk bad for you and your child in real sense? Why it arises today? Is it really safe to feed your child? What qualities of nutrients hide under today’s cow milk? I think you know-quality and bioavailability of a nutrient always matter for absorption and proper action inside the body? Let’s dig. In our finding for which reason it arises “Is cow milk bad for you and your child in real sense?’’  basically, we are trying to pinpoint the particular factors, not all the others.

Milk Myth: Is cow milk bad for you and your child in real sense?

Milk & Heart Disease

Some breed of cow produces a protein called A1 beta-casein in their milk composition. A1 beta-casein (A1/capita) composition with milk protein of cow milk is very different from human milk and hard to digest. Such indigestible protein may cause inflammation inside the body. Researchers found this composition of cow milk and milk product like cream has a link in increasing the risk of coronary heart disease mortality. (1) We need further research.

What is A1 beta-casein (A1/capita) protein?

Cow milk contains two major variants of milk protein, whey protein, and casein protein. It has a protein composition of around 82% of casein and 18% of whey protein in general. The Casein group of protein contains beta-casein second most abundantly. In general cow milk contains two variants of beta-casein protein, A2 beta-casein protein, and A1 beta-casein protein. In earlier days before the genetic modification cows produced only A2 beta-casein protein milk. But after genetic modification cows are beginning to produce A1 beta-casein variant milk protein. In general, milk from Guernsey, Jersey, Asian herds, human milk, and others (sheep, goat, donkeys, yaks, camel, buffalo, sheep, etc.) contain mostly A2 beta-casein. And milk from the Holstein breed (the most common dairy cow breed in Australia, Northern Europe, and the United States) carries A1 and A2 forms of beta-casein.

It is reported that the problem occurs due to the consumption of A1 beta-casein due to the different ways of digestion compared to A2. Digestion of A1 beta-casein results from the release of an inflammatory peptide (a protein fragment) form, beta-casomorphin-7 (BCM-7). If BCM-7 gets through the gut and enters the bloodstream of people with immune disorders, they may experience negative health effects. (2, 3)

However, this is a general data and there is a possibility of cross-breeding among the breeds by milk producers. Cow milk may contain both variants of protein depending upon the breed of genetic modification.

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Milk & Type-1 diabetes mellitus

Type-1 diabetes an autoimmune disease in which immune cells of the body attack and damage insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. Result of which pancreas is unable to produce insulin that carries glucose to cells. When this happens your cells in the body can not utilize glucose properly. And this condition results in high blood glucose levels in type-1 diabetes. Gut health and friendly gut bacteria play a critical rule in maturing immune cells which we mentioned our earlier article food allergy and autoimmune disease, how it affects the body.

Also read apart from diabetes, how badly sugar can harm your health like heart disease, cancer, premature aging, and many more

Research findings:

A study informed consumption of A1 beta-casein but not beta-casein without A1 has a positive correlation in an increased risk of type 1 diabetes. It also raises the possibility that intensive dairy cattle breeding may have emphasized a genetic variant in milk with adverse effects in humans. (4)

Another study published in the Journal of Nutrition & Diabetes in 2017 evidenced A1 beta-casein and its beta-casomorphin-7 (BCM-7) derivative as dominant triggers of type 1 diabetes in individuals with genetic risk factors. Exclusive breastfeeding plays a protective rule against type 1 diabetes in early infancy. But its benefits may be lost if the mother supplements breast milk with cows’ milk formula, or if the duration of breastfeeding is too short.

Other possible interplaying factors along with consumption of A1 beta-casein cow milk protein include the gut’s environment, the mucosal barrier Gastro Intestinal tract, vitamin D, and some other triggers. (5)

In general type-1 diabetes is manifested at an earlier age. One other study indicates that consumption A1 beta-casein in young childhood might be more critical for the development of type 1 diabetes incidence than consumption in adolescence. (6) However, we need more rigorous clinical studies to arrive at a conclusion.

Other health concern

Apart from heart disease and diabetes, other possible health concerns with consumption of milk with A1 beta-casein protein include schizophrenia and autism. (7) However, need more research.

Take home message:

Individuals have their own personal choice of consumption of cow milk as a varying dietary pattern. If you feel better with dairy-free then milk is not for you. Also, cow milk differs a lot from human milk.

Further, I wish to mention a few lines about milk protein and milk fat.

Anything toxic and undigested or hard to digest including protein irritates the intestinal lining. This further creates inflammation and may damage the intestine lining. Such a condition may make people vulnerable to autoimmune disease.

Some manufacturers are marketing A2 variant milk as good milk for human consumption. However powerful research in this field whether bad or good is yet to come.

Many people have confusion about the consumption of milk fat that may carry the risk of heart disease and obesity. And research evidence does not support the hypothesis that high-fat dairy foods contribute to obesity or cardio-metabolic risk. (8)

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that serum or blood HDL cholesterol raises and serum LDL concentration lowers after consumption of dairy fat in comparison to carbohydrates. (9)

Dairy fat like ghee (clarified butter) or butter usually does not contain protein as protein is extracted during the process. However, people may have different dietary patterns and should consume dairy fat in a controlled manner. Other options of milk include almond milk, coconut milk.

I hope the above information can help you to have some idea about “Is cow milk bad for you and your child?’’ and take your decision accordingly.

Disclaimer: Information provided here are generalized information 
for informational and entertainment purpose only, not intended to 
provide one to one health consultation or replace practice of a 
qualified practitioner.Different people may have different health 
condition and may have different reaction to the same food. Hence 
it has been advised to consult with health care provider before 
application of any of above information
Source & references: 
1. Ischaemic heart disease, Type 1 diabetes, and cow milk A1 beta- 
casein,Laugesen M, Elliott R.,N Z Med J. 2003 Jan   
4. Ischaemic heart disease, Type 1 diabetes, and cow milk A1 beta- 
casein,Laugesen M, Elliott R.,N Z Med J. 2003 Jan  
5. A1 beta-casein milk protein and other environmental pre-disposing 
factors for type 1 diabetes,J S J Chia, J L McRae, S Kukuljan K Woodford R 
B Elliott, B Swinburn & K M Dwyer,Nutrition & Diabetes volume 7, pagee274 
8. The relationship between high-fat dairy consumption and obesity, 
cardiovascular, and metabolic disease,Kratz M, Baars T, Guyenet S., 
Division of Public Health Sciences, Cancer Prevention Program, Fred 
Hutchinson, Cancer Research Center, 1100 Fairview Avenue N, Mail Stop M4- 
B402, Seattle, WA, 98109, USA. , Eur J Nutr. 2013 Feb 
9.  Comparison of the impact of SFAs from cheese and butter on 
cardiometabolic risk factors: a randomized controlled trial., Brassard D, 
Tessier-Grenier M, Allaire J, Rajendiran E, She Y, Ramprasath V, Gigleux I, 
Talbot D, Levy E, Tremblay A, Jones PJ, Couture P, Lamarche B., Am J Clin 
Nutr. 2017
Bikramjit Konwar

Author: Bikramjit Konwar


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