Why goats milk is easy to digest
More and more of us are becoming increasingly aware that cows’ milk may not suit us and have started to seek an alternative that is better suited to the needs of our body. Goats' milk is nutritionally closest to cows' milk than other alternatives and yet it has certain physical properties that set it apart, which may impact on digestibility and health.
Many people who perceive they have issues with cows' milk can drink goats' milk without any problems, and even say that their symptoms (such as eczema; asthma; bloatedness; constipation; digestive discomfort and catarrh) are reduced or go away altogether.
Easier to digest
Goats’ milk is gentler on the stomach because of its easily digestible fats and proteins.1 The fat globules in goats’ milk are naturally much smaller than in cows’ milk2 and the protein composition allows it to form a softer curd during digestion3 which may assist digestive health and comfort.
Many people enjoy goats’ milk as they find it suits them better than cows’ milk, with digestive and intolerance problems improving when they make the switch.
Prebiotic – feeding your friendly gut bacteria
Goats’ milk has more oligosaccharides (non-digestible carbohydrates) than cows’ milk4, with similar structures to those found in human milk5. These act as prebiotics in the gut and can help to maintain the health of the digestive tract and gut microbiome, by encouraging the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.6
Intolerance to cows' milk is often due to proteins, in particular Alpha-S1-casein.7 Although goats’ milk is a source of high quality protein providing with 5.6g per 200ml serving, it has significantly lower levels of Alpha-S1-casein than most cows’ milk1, which is one of the reasons it may be better tolerated by some people.
Lower in lactose
Goats’ milk is not recommended for anyone who has been diagnosed with lactose intolerance. However, goats' milk typically contains slightly less lactose (the natural sugar found in milk and other dairy foods) than cows' milk,8 and the amount of lactose people can tolerate varies.9,10 This, together with goats' milks’ easier digestibility, may help to explain why some people with lactose intolerance are able to enjoy goats' milk without any repercussions. However, do consult your GP or a health professional before making any changes to your diet.
Find out more about the health benefits of goats’ milk HERE.
1 Tomotake H et al (2006). Comparison between Holstein cows’ milk and Japanese-Saanen goat milk in fatty acid composition, lipid digestibility and protein profile. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem 70: 2771-2774
2 Attaie R and Richter RL (2000). Size distribution of fat globules in goat milk. J Dairy Sci 83: 940-944
3 Ambrosoli R, di Stasio L and Mazzocco P (1988). Content of αs1-Casein and Coagulation Properties in Goat Milk. J. Dairy Sci 71: 24-28
4 Kiskini A and Difilippo E (2013). Oligosaccharides in goat milk: structure, health effects and isolation. Cell Mol Biol 59: 25-30
5 Oliveira DL, Wilbey RA, Grandison, A S and Roseiro L B (2015). Milk oligosaccharides: a review. Int J Dairy Technol 68 (3): 305-321
6 Gibson GR and Roberfroid MB (1995). Dietary Modulation of the Human Colonie Microbiota: Introducing the Concept of Prebiotics. J Nutr 125: 1401–12
7. Restani P et al (1999). Cross-reactivity between milk proteins from different animal species. Clin Exp Allergy, 29: 997-1004
8 McCance and Widdowson’s The Composition of Foods. Seventh Edition. Royal Society of Chemistry. Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
9. McBean LD, Miller GD. (1998) Allaying fears and fallacies about lactose intolerance. J Am Diet Assoc; Vol 98: Issue 6, P671-76
10 Pribila BA et al (2000). Improved lactose digestion and intolerance among African – American adolescent girls fed a dairy-rich diet. J Am Diet Assoc 100:524-28