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March 19, 2007

Select Studies on Whey Protein – What Can Whey Protein Do That Other Proteins Can’t?

Whey Protein – Nutritional Multitasker

In previous Integrated Supplements blog posts we looked at studies which show whey protein’s unique ability to prevent against chemically induced colon cancer and breast cancer.  We have also looked at how and why a quality whey protein supplement can be used by nearly anyone young and old to support muscle structure and function.

Whenever a substance such as whey exhibits such a wide range of beneficial functions in the body, it’s worth taking a closer look at how it works on a cellular level.  With its known actions in a wide variety of disorders, chances are whey protein enhances cellular function in a very fundamental fashion. 

Antioxidants – Cellular Protectors

Almost all of the nutrients and food components which have been shown to help prevent degenerative disease and aging are antioxidants, or agents that help to minimize oxidative damage.  Inflammation can increase oxidative damage and all degenerative diseases are being recognized to carry with them a distinct inflammatory component.

In essence, oxidative damage and inflammation go hand in hand, and protecting our cells from the harmful effects of excessive amounts of inflammation and oxidants should be the absolute first step in preventing the ravages of aging.

No doubt you are familiar with supplemental antioxidants like vitamin C and E, or food sources of antioxidants like green tea and berries, but in addition to those we ingest, our bodies also produce very powerful antioxidants which aid in cellular detoxification and immune function.  Enhancing our bodies’ production of its own antioxidants could have very powerfully protective effects.

We ARE Immune Systems

Illustrating the systemic nature of our immune response, it has been said that we do not merely HAVE immune systems, but rather, WE ARE immune systems – that our immune system functions 24 hours a day seven days a week, and is intimately tied with the maintenance of our very being right down to a cellular level.

Any compound that can support a healthy and balanced immune response is bound to exert some very beneficial and far-reaching effects in the body.  This balancing effect is called by scientists immunomodulation, and substances which can positively influence immunomodulation are the holy grail of anti-aging research.

Glutathione – First Rate Cellular Protector

Our bodies’ premier endogenous (produced within the body) antioxidant is called glutathione, and it is this compound which has been repeatedly shown to be responsible for much of whey’s immunomodulating and detoxifying actions.

Whey, unlike many other proteins, contains the amino acid cysteine and the cysteine-containing peptide called glutamylcysteine, both of which are direct precursors to glutathione.

Whey has consistently been shown to enhance glutathione levels better than any other protein source, and as a result, no other protein source has been shown to improve systemic antioxidant levels better than whey.

What Do The Studies Show?

The following study looked at the effect of whey protein isolate on glutathione levels and protection of prostate cells – cells which are extremely susceptible to the damaging effects of oxidative stress.

Study: Effect of whey protein isolate on intracellular glutathione and oxidant-induced cell death in human prostate epithelial cells.


It is also interesting to note that while whey protein significantly increased glutathione levels, and prevented oxidant-induced cell death, another milk-based protein, caseinate did not.

So, the difference between whey protein and other proteins is like night and day. 

Any protein can act as a cellular building block, but only a properly prepared whey protein can enhance our cellular defenses sufficiently to give us a fighting chance against the incessant assaults of modern living.

Nothing else even comes close.


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