Helping lactose intolerance with milk may sound counter-intuitive, but a protein found in a type of New Zealand milk is being tested to see if it can do just that.
Globally, about 70 percent of adults consider themselves lactose intolerant, which can lead to abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea, flatulence and other nasty symptoms.
Previous research showed a2 Milk was at least as effective as lactose-free milk at preventing or reducing some of the symptoms such as nausea, stomach pain and bloating when consumed.
This is believed to be because regular milk contains both the A1 and A2 protein, while a2 Milk comes from cows which only produce the A2 type.
Research fellow at the Liggins Institute, Dr Amber Milan said she is now leading a study which will look at the long term effects of the milk to tackle lactose intolerance symptoms.
"What we're going to do is ask people who are lactose intolerant to consume either a2 milk and cheese or conventional milk and cheese so we can compare their effects of both of those on their ability to tolerate lactose," she said.
Dr Milan said lactose intolerant people can sometimes build up their tolerance to lactose over time by including lactose or milk in their diet, but this may help fasten that process.
"One of the ways that a2 milk might be acting differently than regular milk is there may be inflammation that happens with conventional milk that might be aggrevating lactose intolerance so, if we can prevent the inflammation, we may be able to speed up the ability to tolerate more lactose," she said.
The study is being conducted through the National Science Challenge and funded by AgResearch in collaboration with a2 Milk.
She said the results should be ready by the end of the year, but they still needed 40 volunteers.
The participants need to be aged 20 to 40, believe they are lactose intolerant, and based in Auckland.
"If anyone is interested in helping us with the study, can contact us through the Liggins Institute webpage," she said.