What are the Health Benefits of Whey Protein
As you have seen, each compound in whey protein fulfills an important function in the body. But when the sum of their joint effects is analyzed, the result is a protein that can provide numerous therapeutic benefits.
Whey contains two types of proteins: casein (80%) and whey protein (20%). It is considered a natural probiotic and is characterized by its ability to pass rapidly into the intestine, which gives it the property of producing a rapid increase in the concentration of amino acids in the blood.
If you are interested in learning how whey protein can benefit you beyond muscle development, you are in the right place. We invite you to discover the benefits of Whey protein! Generally, it is used to improve the synthesis of protein in the muscle and to promote its growth, but the truth is that there are many other therapeutic benefits associated with its consumption.
We are facing a high-quality protein that has a high biological value. Its content in the 9 essential amino acids, including the three branched-chain ( leucine, isoleucine, and valine ), makes it a protein whose main field of action is sports nutrition.
8 Health Benefits of Whey Protein
- Improves Athletic Performance
Of course, we start with the property that most of us know. Well, there is a lot of research that shows that the intake of whey protein increases strength and muscle mass when it is accompanied by the daily practice of strength training. It also appears to improve running speed and recovery from exercise in untrained adults.
- Helps Fight Obesity
While following a diet combined with regular physical exercise, the consumption of whey protein is effective in preventing the loss of lean muscle mass and promoting the loss of body fat.
Its essential nutrients help to reactivate the basal metabolism, optimizing energy consumption from the sources of carbohydrates, sugars, and fats that our body receives. In addition, whey protein has a satiating effect that helps reduce appetite and, consequently, control excessive calorie intake.
- Helps to Control Blood Pressure
Once released, the peptides from whey protein have shown a beneficial effect on blood pressure control. The main mechanism involved in the effect of antihypertensive peptides is the inhibition of the angiotensin-converting enzyme. These inhibitors stop the body from making angiotensin II, a substance that narrows the blood vessels, which can cause high blood pressure and force the heart to work harder.
- Helps to Regulate Diabetes
Whey is rich in Leucine, a branched amino acid that acts as a direct stimulant of insulin on the cells of the pancreas. In the absence of more studies, consuming whey protein before meals is a promising alternative for improving type II diabetes.
This regulatory action of diabetes is due to two actions:
- The slowing down of gastric emptying
- The increased insulin secretion and incretin peptides. Incretins are intestinal hormones that are released into the bloodstream in response to ingestion of nutrients and whose function is to regulate the secretion of insulin and glucagon.
- Strengthens the Immune System
The glutathione is a peptide composed of three amino acid binding: cysteine, glutamate, and glycine are present in all cells of our body. This molecule occurs naturally in our body but decreases with age and its production depends on the intake of these three amino acids.
Glutathione is responsible for neutralizing free radicals, which are mainly responsible for oxidative damage, being necessary for the proper functioning of the white blood cells of the immune system. Whey protein is an effective and safe donor to increase the production of this important peptide.
Animal experiments have also shown that whey protein concentrates exert anticancer activity. The antitumor effect of whey protein is due to its high content of cysteine, an amino acid present in glutathione. As we have seen previously, this peptide plays a decisive role in the immune system since increasing its concentration detoxifies the tissues affected by cancer cells.
Similarly, lactoferrin contributes to the regulation of cell growth and differentiation and protection against the development of cancer and metastasis. These studies have suggested the potential therapeutic use of lactoferrin as an agent for the prevention and/or treatment of different types of cancer.
- Take Care of the Intestinal Flora
Whey protein is considered a natural prebiotic so it can help promote the regeneration of the bacterial flora that protect the intestines. In addition, numerous studies confirm that whey protein improves intestinal permeability in patients with Crohn’s disease.
Other studies carried out with animals report that whey protein helps reduce chronic intestinal inflammation since two of its amino acids (threonine and cysteine or both) have the ability to increase the secretion of fecal mucin without altering it genetically, which suggests a synthesis improved of this substance when observing an increase in the count of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria.
- Helps Prevent Osteoporosis
In addition to its high amino acid content, whey protein is an important source of vitamins (C, E, and D) and minerals (calcium, potassium, and magnesium), nutrients that are necessary to maintain bone density in optimal conditions.
Due to its low sodium content and its high content of calcium and vitamin D, whey protein is an effective supplement to strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis.
Other Advantages of Whey Protein
Although they are not conclusive due to a lack of scientific evidence, there are many other studies on the benefits of whey protein. More research is needed to confirm its effects on:
- Parkinson’s disease
- HIV AIDS
- Septicemia (infection in the blood)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Intellectual skills and cognitive functions
- Muscle pain and stiffness caused by inflammation (polymyalgia rheumatica)
Composition of Whey Protein
The biological value of whey protein lies in its composition. It contains different proteins and bioactive peptides (inactive amino acids inside the serum that are released through the enzymatic process) and each of them fulfills important functions that go beyond its contribution of amino acids.
Beta-lactoglobulin corresponds to 50% of the protein present in serum. It is a source of amino acids, both essential and branched, which are responsible for protecting the muscle and saving glycogen during exercise. It also helps to improve the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
As a source of bioactive peptides, it plays an important role in human health. In addition to antihypertensive, antioxidant, and antimicrobial activities, it has the ability to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
It corresponds to 20% of the proteins present in the serum. It is a source of essential amino acids, tryptophan, and cysteine.
Its consumption has been related to reducing stress and preventing cognitive alterations. It acts as an antihypertensive, antimicrobial, anticancer, prebiotic, immunomodulator, and opioid.
It offers passive immunity as it acts as an antibody protecting the body from infections and pathogens. In addition, they are capable of eliminating bacteria and neutralizing toxins and viruses.
The glycomacropeptide, in addition to its nutritional value, retains numerous biological properties. Its mechanism of action has effects on different types of inflammatory disorders and exerts an important activity that regulates the physiology of the gastrointestinal, endocrine, and immune systems. It also plays an important role in brain development and enhances learning.
Bovine Serum Albumin
This protein has antioxidant properties and has the ability to inhibit tumor cells. It is also used by the body for energy since they have the ability to bind to fats, mobilize them and protect them from oxidation.
In addition, it has the ability to reduce the absorption of cholesterol, destroys heavy metals, and acts on opioid receptors, offering an effect like a natural analgesic in the body.
Lactoferrin is a multifunctional glycoprotein found in colostrum and milk. It has bactericidal properties and can stimulate cell proliferation and differentiation, facilitate iron absorption, improve neuronal development and cognition, promote bone growth, prevent cancer, and exert anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory effects.
It is the most abundant enzyme in milk and is found naturally in saliva, tears, and gastric juices. It has the property of releasing compounds that are capable of preventing the growth of viruses, fungi, and bacteria.
After reading this article and knowing all about its benefits and advantages, do you still think that whey protein is just a sports supplement? If not, then you should start using it right away.
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