Lindsay Malone, MS, RD, CSO, LD
Whether you are nursing or formula-feeding your baby, when it’s time to transition, regenerative organic A2/A2 milk is a safe and nutritious way to introduce your little one to dairy. Like many parents, you may be wondering about the ins and outs of transitioning and how your baby will react to milk. The good news is, making the move to milk is easier and more enjoyable than you might think. Transitioning to regenerative organic A2/A2 milk is a great way to expand your baby’s palate that is also gentle on the digestive system, and is full of the extra organic nutrients to fuel all the milestones ahead.
When is it time to transition?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends transitioning to milk around 1 year of age or later. Yogurt and cheeses are fermented and may be easier for baby to digest so, these foods can be introduced earlier during solid food introduction around 6-8 months of age (*). If you’re still nursing or formula feeding, milk can be supplemental and gradually introduced as you wean your baby. Many moms continue their child’s nighttime rituals like nursing well beyond a year for the bonding and soothing properties. There is no right or wrong way to transition because every family is different. As long as baby is getting enough calories, protein and other nutrients, the pace of transitioning is less important.
When you and your baby are ready to start introducing milk you’ll undoubtedly be thinking of what kind of milk to introduce. Just like diapers, bubble bath and baby wipes, researching the best type of milk for your baby is important. When it comes to milk there are many options – whole, reduced fat, fat free, ultra filtered, homogenized, organic, grass fed, the list goes on.
Regenerative organic A2/A2 milk is a good starting point for your baby and as you read more, you’ll see it can provide health benefits for the whole family.
What is Regenerative Organic?
Don’t be scared by the long name, regenerative organic is a technical way of describing farming, which produces the kinds of foods our great grandparents enjoyed. When it comes to feeding your family, particularly infants, you want all the details, so let’s unpack what each of these terms means.
This means the farmer must follow USDA organic standards or better including no antibiotics, hormones, gmo’s, toxic fertilizers, synthetic pesticides etc. As well as other considerations like animal welfare and taking a preventative approach to health of pastures and animals.
Regenerative dairy includes milk and milk products that come from cows feasting on pastures that are nurtured to ensure high nutrient density year after year. The soil is quite literally continuously regenerated through grazing, composting and no-till farming. From the ground up, regenerative farming moves carbon out of the atmosphere and back into the Earth’s soil by improving soil health, which grows the green plants that use (sequester) the carbon dioxide. The cycle of green grass grown and grazed is what helps reduce the atmospheric carbon load and helps reverse climate change. Soil, pasture and animals are cared for with the long term impact on the Earth in mind.
A2/A2 describes a type of protein found in milk that is different than most of the milk on the grocery store shelves. The beta-casein protein in milk can be one of 2 types: A1 or A2. Unfortunately, A1 protein, foreign to the human body, can be difficult for humans to digest. A2 protein, on the other hand, has a shape more similar to breast milk – as well as sheep and goats milk. This difference in structure may make it easier to digest and minimizes food reactivity symptoms like bloating, gas, indigestion and skin irritation. A2/A2 milk is milk that most humans find easy on the tummy and their overall systems. This kind of milk only comes from cows that have been specifically cross-bred to have genes that only produce A2/A2 milk. When you put all of these characteristics together you get milk and other dairy products for your baby that have more health benefits – a perfect transition food.
The Health Benefits of Organic Regenerative A2 Milk
A2/A2 Organic Milk is Easier to Digest
Despite the high nutritional value of milk, it is one of the top food allergens and is a common source of gastrointestinal discomfort for many. It was previously accepted that difficulty digesting the sugar in milk, known as lactose, was to blame for the bloating, gas and abdominal pain. But, science has recently shown that a by product of A1 protein digestion, known as BCM-7, may be the source of the problem (*). BCM-7 has also been associated with heart disease and type I diabetes (*). Infants may be more susceptible to the reported ill effects of BCM-7 because their digestive tract is still forming and they may absorb more BCM-7 than adults (*). A study in the journal Nutrients showed that individuals consuming A2 milk had more normal bowel function and less abdominal pain than individuals drinking A1 milk (*). Another study in the Nutrition Journal reported increased inflammation, constipation and post digestion discomfort with regular milk containing both A1 and A2 proteins as compared to purely A2 milk (*).
Regenerative Organic Milk is Higher in Healthy Fats
The goodness of nutritional value gets passed from farm to bottle through pasture raised cows. Grasses and other green plants provide cows with everything they need to form healthy fats that end up in their milk. These fats are known as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and omega 3 fats.
This is the same type of fat found in wild fatty fish like salmon and mackerel as well as in walnuts, chia seeds and flax seeds. Omega 3 fats reduce inflammation and are required for brain health and development. Because organic dairy cows are required to forage on grass for at least 4 months of the year, and most are typically in the pasture about 60-80% of the time, they are eating more grass than mostly grain-fed cows that produce much of the milk sold in the US (*). Regenerative organic dairy cows are consuming even more grass and foliage than average organic farms because they are in the pasture nearly 100% of the time and green plants are their only food source (*). 100% Grass-fed, organic cows, which eat grass/forage year-round, produce milk with significant health benefits.(*).
Cows that are 100% grass-fed also have lower amounts of inflammatory omega 6 fats in their milk. Populations around the world with good health consume a diet where they get 4g or less of omega 6 fatty acids for every 1g of omega 3 fats. This is known as the omega 6:omega 3 ratio. For reference the Standard American Diet has a typical ratio of 25:1, a far cry from the 4:1 ratio of healthy populations. Milk from grass fed cows has a ratio of 1:1 and milk from conventional cows has a ratio of more than 5:1 (*).
Look for Non-Homogenized and Vat-Pasteurized
Most milk also undergoes a process known as homogenization which breaks up the fat globules in the milk to keep the fat emulsified in the milk. This process is not done for any nutritional reason but purely to keep the fat suspended in the milk for a smoother mouthfeel and to avoid the consumer having to shake the milk before drinking.
Some milks that are vat-pasteurized, instead of ultra-high pasteurized, retain a better flavor profile for the milk while maintaining a minor percentage of the milk’s natural enzymes and beneficial bacteria. This does mean that the milk has a shorter shelf life – but that’s because the milk quite literally has more life in it. Plant milks are often highlighted as a healthier alternative to cow’s milk. In fact, plant milks often contain less protein and healthy fat than cow’s milk. And unlike plant milks, there are no emulsifiers, stabilizers, carrageenan, or other additives in organic regenerative A2 milk. In addition, the plant milks all derive from till-farming, which increases carbon dioxide.
Transition with Ease
Who knew the nutritional value of milk could vary from one type to the next, right? So, when it’s time to transition your baby, now you know there are many reasons why regenerative organic A2 milk is a good choice. From easier digestion to healthier fats, you can start to expand your baby’s palate and boost their nutrition with ease.