The Atlantic

The Health Battle Behind America's Next Milk Trend

An ancient variety of milk might do wonders for digestion—or it could be a money grab.
Source: Rich Pedroncelli / AP

Cow’s milk gets a bad rap. Over the past few decades, it’s been maligned for everything from fat and sugar levels to synthetic-hormone and antibiotic content. It has faced fierce competition from alternatives like almond milk and soy milk. But what if the most dangerous thing in a glass of milk all this time has been something much more elemental?

This was the question puzzling the New Zealand scientists Bob Elliott and Corran McLachlan in 1993, when their studies of Type 1 diabetes and heart disease pointed to milk as an unlikely culprit—specifically, a variety of milk known to scientists as A1, the ubiquitous variety stocked in most of the world’s grocery stores. A1, the research suggested, produces inflammatory compounds in the human digestive system that can cause mild symptoms like stomach pain, or much worse.

The research also showed, however, that a second type of milk—a variation known as A2—did not have these effects. McLachlan posited that A2 could be better for overall health, and maybe even digestible by those who consider themselves lactose intolerant.

In 2000, McLachlan teamed up with the billionaire farmer and entrepreneur Howard Paterson

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