Digestion

Casein produces a curd when in the stomach. It is well known that goat milk produces a very loose curd structure with a high proportion of water and is easily broken apart.1 A loose curd structure promotes the digestion of milk proteins.2 The structure of the curd is in turn influenced by the individual casein proteins.

There are 4 casein proteins – αs1-, αs2-, β- and κ-casein. In cow milk, αs1-casein makes up around 25% of the total protein.3 In goat milk from New Zealand αs1-casein makes up only 5-10% of the total protein. Similarly, around 5% of the total protein of human is αs1-casein.4 Instead as1-casein, β-casein makes up 70% of casein in goat milk compared to 69% in human milk casein and 43% in cow milk.5

Low levels of αs1-casein are associated with a loose, more fragile, curd structure.6 It is probably the fragile curd of goat milk that changes how it is digested within the stomach and therefore how the infant may react during this process.

Curd/Whey level comparison between cow, goat and human milk samples
1 Storry et al 1983; Ambrosoli et al 1988; Remeuf et al 1989; Park 2007; Mestawet et al, 2014
2 Ye et al, 2016
3 Martin et al. 2002; Caroli et al, 2009
4 Martin et al, 1996; Poth et al, 2008
5 Marletta et al, 2007; Cebellos et al, 2009; Salem et al, 2009; Ham et al, 2010
6 Pierre et al 1995; Martin, Ollivier-Bousquet and Grosclaude 1999; Park et al, 2007
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