Health Science Update: Remarkable Immune Support Properties of Whey Protein

Is there anything whey protein can't do? This most versatile and powerful of nutrients has a complete amino profile especially rich in essential amino acids (EAA) like leucine and more biological value (BV) than whole food sources of protein like beef, chicken or fish. It is prized by fitness-minded people for its easy digestibility and swift uptake into muscle tissue, resulting in a rapid increase in plasma amino acids, which in turn stimulates muscle protein synthesis in response to resistance training.

Protein more generally (unlike fats and carbs) contains nitrogen, which the body uses to synthesize various amino acids and facilitate enzymatic processes. Normal growth, cell replacement and tissue repair all require nitrogen for production of new cells.

And whey protein's benefits go far behind its obvious and substantial support of muscle-building repair and recovery. It has been associated with numerous additional benefits -- some of them quite surprising -- in published, peer-reviewed clinical studies conducted by researchers worldwide. Increased consumption of whey protein has long been a well-indicated strategy for fat loss, as it suppresses appetite, boosts metabolism, and helps maintain muscle mass that burns fat for fuel.

Whey Protein and Enhanced Antioxidant Activity

Free radical damage caused by high-intensity exercise, toxins or infection can decrease the body's ability to fend off disease and recover efficiently. Whey protein has been associated with potent antioxidant activity due to its component amino acids cysteine and methionine. A high concentration of these two aminos, integrated with other antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E, supports intracellular conversion to glutathione (GSH), which plays a key role in the body's antioxidant defense system, protecting cells against free radical damage. Supplementation with whey protein can be an effective means of delivering cysteine and methionine in immune deficiency states. (Vijaylaxmi Grey 1)

The glycomacropeptides (GMP) in whey have also shown promise in reducing inflammation caused by anti-oxidative stress. In a recent macro-review of studies related to this area of investigation, published in 2019 in the journal Nutrients, the authors concluded that GMP retains many biological properties and therapeutic effects that may offer beneficial effects for several inflammatory disorders. (Córdova-Dávalos 2) GMP may also enhance immunomodulatory activities by inhibiting immune cell proliferation and lowering indexes of inflammation, and has been shown to exert prebiotic and antibacterial effects from in vitro and in vivo studies.



Immune Support and Whey Protein Intake

Medical experts have long known that decreased protein intake is associated with loss of muscle mass during periods of inactivity (such as a hospital stay), slower recovery from illness, and weaker immune function. This is why doctors will often administer protein-enhanced dietary regimens to patients in hospitals, particularly older or immune-compromised patients. (Munk 3) Increased protein intake is also strongly advised for sedentary older people in general, as the decreased muscle mass associated with aging increases both the incidence of falls and the severity of injury subsequent to those falls.

But how and why does whey protein support immune response? Clues are beginning to emerge via recent research. In a study published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology, researchers determined that orally administered lactoferrin and lactoperoxidase (two glycoprotein micro-fractions found in whey protein) in influenza-virus-infected mice attenuated pneumonia by suppressing the infiltration of inflammatory cells in the lung. Lactoperoxidase was further shown to reduce body weight loss and reduce the production of a pro-inflammatory cytokine. (Kouichirou Shin 4) Administration of whey protein has also been shown to improve the maturation of immune systems in suckling rats. (Pérez-Cano 5)

Administration of alpha-Lactalbumin has also shown promise. In a study with rodents, alpha-lactalbumin improved antibody response to infection, and had a perceived direct effect on B-lymphocyte function, as well as suppressing T cell-dependent and independent responses. (Wong 6) Whey also contains immunoglobulins and is rich in the amino acid glutamine; decreases in either have been shown to compromise a healthy immune system.

Seek Immune Support in the Highest-Quality Super-Premium Whey Protein Formulas

As you might imagine, low-quality budget proteins containing incomplete or damaged protein fractions will be of limited help in your pursuit of maximized health and immune function. Typical supermarket-shelf whey concentrate formulas can have anywhere from 50% to 89% actual protein content (manufacturers aren't required to specify) and can be rife with impurities, fillers and gelatins. More importantly, they are often formulated via a crude ion-exchange chemical process that damages the biological activity of many important fractions found in the protein, including beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, serum albumin, and a host of illness-preventing immunoglobulins.


Here's where a super-premium protein formula like ProSource's NytroWhey Ultra Elite can offer you a real advantage. NytroWhey Ultra Elite contains the highest-potency whey isolate formulated via an advanced Cross-Flow Microfiltration (CFM) process that yields a product with greater overall protein content (90% and above) than ion-exchange whey concentrate, higher amounts of essential amino acids like leucine, and does not damage any of the natural biological fractions found within whey protein. For example, CFM whey protein has high concentrations of the amino acid cysteine, which is closely linked to antioxidant activity, making the cells stronger and more resistant to damaging free radicals. (Phillips 7)

And of course, CFM whey protein isolate contains much higher levels of undamaged beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, and serum albumin. Collectively, these microfractions convey several additional health-promoting attributes, most importantly an ability to strengthen the immune system.

And there's more to NytroWhey Ultra Elite than simply the world's purest, most potent whey isolate. Our legendary protein formula also contains a cutting-edge whey hydrolysate that is micro-processed to yield extremely low-molecular-weight di- and tri-peptides for immediate amino absorption and assimilation by the body, plus a state-of-the-art leucine peptide technology designed to maximize protein synthesis in the muscle cell. Together these three protein sources, all proudly manufactured in the USA, combine in a state-of-the-art protein blend justifiably celebrated for its light, clean taste and smooth, luscious texture.

We know that a well-balanced diet is crucial to immune support. Emerging science suggests that whey protein -- and specifically high-quality CFM whey protein rich in the glycoprotein micro-fractions known to play a key role in immune function -- can be a powerful nutritional tool in enhancing our bodies' capacity to fend off disease and recover faster. So prioritize whey intake and be safe out there!

Scientific References

1 Vijaylaxmi Grey, Shawn R. Mohammed, Argyrios A. Smountas, Rasha Bahlool, Larry C. Lands. Improved glutathione status in young adult patients with cystic fibrosis supplemented with whey protein. Journal of Cystic Fibrosis. 2003: 195-198

2 Laura Elena Córdova-Dávalos, Mariela Jiménez, Eva Salinas. Glycomacropeptide Bioactivity and Health: A Review Highlighting Action Mechanisms and Signaling Pathways. Department of Microbiology, Basic Science Center, Autonomous University of Aguascalientes, Aguascalientes 20131, Mexico. Nutrients 2019, 11(3), 598.

3 Munk T1, Beck AM, Holst M, Rosenbom E, Rasmussen HH, Nielsen MA, Thomsen T. Positive effect of protein-supplemented hospital food on protein intake in patients at nutritional risk: a randomised controlled trial. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2014 Apr;27(2):122-32. Epub 2014 Jan 31.

4 Kouichirou Shin, Hiroyuki Wakabayashi, Koji Yamauchi, Susumu Teraguchi, Yoshitaka Tamura, Masahiko Kurokawa, Kimiyasu Shiraki. Effects of orally administered bovine lactoferrin and lactoperoxidase on influenza virus infection in mice. Journal of Medical Microbiology, Volume 54, Issue 8, 01 August 2005.

5 Francisco J Pérez-Cano, Silvia Marin-Gallen, Margarida Castell, María Rodríguez-Palmero. Bovine whey protein concentrate supplementation modulates maturation of immune system in suckling rats. British Journal Of Nutrition 98 Suppl 1(S1):S80-4, November 2007.

6 Wong CW, Dennis L. Watson. Immuno-modulatory effects of dietary whey proteins in mice. Journal of Dairy Research. 1995: 62 359-368.

7 Phillips, S.M., J.E. Tang, and D.R. Moore, The role of milk- and soy-based protein in support of muscle protein synthesis and muscle protein accretion in young and elderly persons. J Am Coll Nutr, 2009. 28(4): p. 343-54.

Use as directed with a sensible nutrition and exercise program. Read and follow all product label instructions and warnings thoroughly before use. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

The articles featured herein are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Specific medical advice should only be obtained from a licensed health care professional. No liability is assumed by ProSource for any information herein.