Whey protein is primarily produced as a byproduct of cheese production and represents an ideal source of protein that contains special medicinal properties. When extracted properly and with care, whey protein products contain high levels of immune stimulating factors and can greatly assist the body in muscle building and cellular detoxification.
The primary immune stimulating effects of whey protein come from the immunoglobulins and lactoferrin naturally contained in high concentrations.
Immunoglobulins are produced by our immune system to help fight off infection. Properly harvested whey protein from cows is naturally very high in these immune activators. Furthermore because our own body's make immunoglobulins the ones obtained from other animals like cows are easily recognized and utilized for fighting pathogenic micro-organisms. When ingested orally, the immunoglobulins in whey protein are absorbed intact through the gastrointestinal wall where they work to ward off infection.
Lactoferrin is a type of protein associated with the storage and transportation of iron throughout the body. It is naturally found in high amounts in whey protein and breast milk. Its presence in breast milk is thought to be how iron is effectively transported to breast fed infants. This affinity for iron is part of lactoferrin's ability to assist our immune system in fighting infection. Pathogenic (bad bacteria) are dependent on iron to carryout reproduction. Lactoferrin can temporarily bind this iron and thus prevent bacterial access to this vital nutrient they need to carry on their life cycle.
In addition to these immune stimulating benefits, whey protein is a natural stimulator of liver detoxification. Our liver is charged with detoxifying the majority of toxic chemicals we are exposed to in our environment. Sluggish detoxification can result in a build up of these toxins which can ultimately damage our health. Whey protein provides important amino acids that the liver needs to carry out the process of breaking down toxins and excreting them out of the body.
Glutathione is the body's master antioxidant and plays a critical role in supporting the liver's detoxification process. It is composed of three amino acids Cysteine, Glutamine, and Glycine. These molecules are found in a larger ratio in non-denatured whey protein compared with any other proteins ingested by humans. Glutathione is available itself as a supplement but due to its highly unstable nature it's uptake into the bloodstream from oral ingestion is very poor. High quality non-denatured whey protein is one of the best ways to increase cellular levels of glutathione. Low glutathione levels have been associated with numerous neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS and Alzheimer's.
In addition to these benefits, whey protein offers highly absorbable forms of all essential and non-essential amino acids necessary for muscle building and recovery. This makes it an excellent protein source for athletes or those people trying to increase muscle strength and speed muscle recovery.