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Why to Consume Whey?

Updated on July 2, 2013

What is whey?

Whey is obtained from milk and is a rich source of vital proteins. During the process of curdling or production of cheese thin watery substance gets separated and this fluid is known as whey. Milk obtained from different sources like cow, buffalo, goat and camel is rich in two kinds of proteins which are whey and casein. Amongst these two proteins, whey is considered to be the best kind of proteins as it is rich in branched chain amino acids (leu, ile, and val). Whey proteins are globular in nature and include proteins like Beta-lactoglobulin, Alpha-lactalbumin, Immunoglobulins, Glycomacropeptide, Lactoferrin, Lysozyme, Lactoperoxidase.

Nutritional Value of Whey

It is calcium and protein rich compound which has lower quantity of fats or carbohydrates. Because of its rare combination of amino acids it is considered as a best food for vegetarians. Whey is rich in water soluble B-group vitamins. It complements the proteins obtained from fruits and vegetables.

Commercially Available Forms of Whey Proteins

Commercially whey is marketed in two major forms which are whey protein concentrate (rich in whey protein and containing lactose and fats in significant amounts), whey protein isolate (containing 90% of whey protein and negligible quantities of lactose and fats). Apart from these, different blended varieties of whey proteins are also available which are combinations of whey isolates and whey concentrates. When long chains of whey proteins are hydrolyzed they get converted into an easily digestible form which is generally used in the infant formulas and in the food products for athletes. The process of hydrolysis promotes better digestion and absorption of whey protein.

Action of Whey Protein against Cancer

Breast cancer is affecting a large number of women across the world. However research has shown that a proper nutritional intake during earlier stages can reduce the rate of prognosis of this disease. To study the effect of intake of whey protein, rats were subjected to DMBA (an organic carcinogen), and the effects on the mammary cancer were analyzed. The chances of breast carcinoma were found to be lower in case of rats fed with soy protein or whey hydrolysate [1]. Glutathione is a natural antioxidant produced by the cells of our body and it protects the cells from oxidative stress. Glutathione helps to fight against cancer in three different ways which are:

  • Through antioxidation
  • By preventing the wasting of disease
  • By reducing the side effects of various chemotherapeutic agents

A diet rich in whey protein concentrate is known to increase the levels of Glutathione [2]. People who undergo the treatment for cancer loose the muscle mass, but whey protein helps to maintain its balance.

Other Health Benefits of Whey Protein

Diarrhea is a very common problem and there are a large number of causative agents for this. Whey serves as a good dietary nutrient during this situation. Apart from being light and easily digestible it prevents the recurrences of Diarrhea induced by Clostridium difficile or rotavirus [3] [4]. It protects the gastro-intestinal lining from injuries and developing ulcers. Due to the lack of lactose it can be consumed by lactose intolerant people also. It helps in the speedy recovery from injury. An increased levels of glutathione related with the intake of whey protein also stimulates faster wound healing capacity [5].

Whey – An Easily Available Nutritional Supplement

In many parts of southern India it is a common practice to consume curd or yoghurt every day. During the preparation of curd whey is obtained which can act as a home remedy for a number of diseases. Some people require this protein in higher concentration like athletes, sick people etc. This protein is also available in market in the form of infant formulas, health drinks etc. So what are you waiting for just pick up the right combination required for your health?


1. Eason RR, et al. Dietary exposure to whey proteins alters rat mammary gland proliferation, apoptosis, and gene expression during postnatal development. J Nutr, 2004 Dec, 134(12), 3370-7.

2. Pacheco MT, et al. Effect of different hydrolysates of whey protein on hepatic glutathione content in mice. J Med Food, 2005 Fall, 8(3), 337-42.

3. Bauer MP, et al. [Recurrence of Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhoea prevented by the administration of a whey concentrate from specifically immunised cows; prospective study]. Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd, 2008 Aug 30, 152(35), 1919-26.

4. Pérez-Cano FJ, et al. Supplementing suckling rats with whey protein concentrate modulates the immune response and ameliorates rat rotavirus-induced diarrhea. J Nutr, 2008 Dec, 138(12), 2392-8.

5. Velioglu Ogünç A, et al. Dietary whey supplementation in experimental models of wound healing. Int J Vitam Nutr Res, 2008 Mar, 78(2), 70-3.


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    • Seeker7 profile image

      Helen Murphy Howell 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland

      Excellent hub with very useful information. There is a lot in this hub that I didn't know and I think it will also be knew and useful to many people.

      Voted up!

    • Sneha Sunny profile image

      Sneha Sunny 5 years ago from India

      Useful and interesting post. I didn't knew that whey prevents cancer. This is a very nicely written hub with great info. Keep hubbing!