Whey protein and inflammation. Inflammation is a natural response of the body’s immune system to fight off harmful invaders such as pathogens, toxins, and other foreign substances. However, when inflammation becomes chronic, it can lead to various health problems, including autoimmune diseases, metabolic disorders, and even cancer. Therefore, reducing chronic inflammation is crucial for maintaining optimal health and preventing the onset of various diseases.
One of the ways to reduce chronic inflammation is through dietary interventions. In recent years, whey protein has emerged as a popular dietary supplement due to its many health benefits, including its potential anti-inflammatory effects.
What is whey protein?
Whey protein is a type of protein that is derived from milk. It is a byproduct of the cheese-making process and is extracted from the liquid left after milk has been curdled and strained. Whey protein is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids that the body needs but cannot produce on its own.
Whey protein is available in various forms, including concentrate, isolate, and hydrolysate. Whey protein concentrate contains a lower percentage of protein and a higher percentage of fat and carbohydrates, while whey protein isolate contains a higher percentage of protein and fewer amounts of fat and carbohydrates. Whey protein hydrolysate is a predigested form of whey protein that is rapidly absorbed by the body.
Whey protein and inflammation
Chronic inflammation is a common underlying factor in many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Therefore, reducing chronic inflammation is essential for maintaining optimal health and preventing the onset of these diseases.
Several studies have investigated the potential anti-inflammatory effects of whey protein. Whey protein contains various bioactive peptides, including lactoferrin, lactoperoxidase, and immunoglobulins, which have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory properties.
One study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that supplementing with whey protein concentrate significantly reduced the levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in overweight and obese individuals. CRP is a biomarker of inflammation and is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases.
Another study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that consuming whey protein concentrate reduced the levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) in overweight and obese individuals. TNF-alpha is a pro-inflammatory cytokine that is implicated in various chronic diseases.
Moreover, a systematic review and meta-analysis published in the journal Nutrients found that whey protein supplementation significantly reduced the levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), another pro-inflammatory cytokine, in both healthy individuals and those with chronic diseases.
The potential anti-inflammatory effects of whey protein are attributed to its ability to increase the production of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that plays a crucial role in reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. Whey protein is also rich in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which have been shown to reduce muscle damage and inflammation after exercise.
Whey protein for athletes
Athletes and individuals who engage in regular exercise are more susceptible to inflammation due to the increased oxidative stress and muscle damage associated with intense physical activity. Therefore, reducing inflammation is crucial for promoting recovery and preventing injury in athletes.
Several studies have investigated the potential anti-inflammatory effects of whey protein in athletes. One study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that supplementing with whey protein concentrate reduced the levels of IL-6 and TNF-alpha in athletes after a bout of high-intensity exercise.