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- Mar 6, 2009
Potential Health Benefits of Whey Protein
As an old Italian proverb goes, “If you want to live a healthy and active life, drink whey.” Looking at the studies on whey protein so far, it seems that modern science agrees too. Here, we look at just some of the interesting research on this milky leftover.
Lower blood pressure. A research published in International Dairy Journal suggested that whey protein drinks may help to lower blood pressure in adults who are hypertensive, but not in subjects who did not have elevated pressure.
Prevent prostate cancer. Whey protein may help to prevent prostate cancer according to a lab study. When food scientists from Ohio State University exposed human prostate cells to whey protein, the glutathione levels in the cells increased by up to 64 percent. Glutathione is a type of antioxidant that protects cells from free radical damages which scientists believed can lead to cancer.
Lower intestinal inflammation. Glycomacropeptide, a protein found in whey, was found to reduce intestinal inflammation comparable to that of anti-inflammatory drug sulfasalazine in rats with chemically-induced colitis.
Improve insulin sensitivity. In a Swedish study, whey protein was found to be useful in blood sugar control. When participants with type II diabetes ate high glycemic index meals with whey protein, they registered higher insulin responses and lower spikes in blood glucose levels after meals than when whey was not included.
Increase muscle growth and strength. When combined with weight training, whey protein is shown to promote muscle growth and muscular strength in active people. This is believed to be the works of branched amino acids, especially leucine, found in whey protein that promote protein synthesis.
Anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-microbial effects. A minor protein called lactoferrin found in whey protein has been a subject of active research, and rightly so. As it has demonstrated anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties in several studies on lab animals. Lactoferrin is found to boost immunity to prevent cancer, and yet at the same time is able to suppress immune responses to block inflammatory disease.
Reduce colon cancer risk. Whey protein may reduce the risk of colon cancer. In animal studies where colon cancer was induced, rats that were fed whey diet had significantly lower incidence of colon tumors than animals that were fed casein diet.