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Whey Protein in Health & Therapeutic Applications


Milk biologically active components as nutraceuticals: review.
Séverin S, Wenshui X. (2005)


A role for milk proteins and their peptides in cancer prevention.
Parodi PW. (2007)


Therapeutic applications of whey protein.
Marshall K. (2004)


Emerging health properties of whey proteins and their clinical implications.
Krissansen GW. (2007)


Milk biologically active components as nutraceuticals: review.


Journal: Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2005;45(7-8):645-56.


Authors: Séverin S, Wenshui X.


School of Food Science and Technology, Southern Yangtze University, Wuxi, 214036, China.



Milk contains components that provide critical nutritive elements, immunological protection, and biologically active substances to both neonates and adults. Milk proteins are currently the main source of a range of biologically active peptides. Concentrates of these peptides are potential health-enhancing nutraceuticals for food and pharmaceutical applications. Several bioactive peptides may be used as nutraceuticals, for example, in the treatment of diarrhea, hypertension, thrombosis, dental diseases, as well as mineral malabsorption, and immunodeficiency. Minor whey proteins, such as lactoferrin, lactoperoxidase, lysozyme, and immunoglobulins, are considered antimicrobial proteins. Milk also contains some natural bioactive substances. These include oligosaccharides, fucosylated oligosaccharides, hormones, growth factors, mucin, gangliosides, and endogenous peptides, which are present in milk at secretion. Most of the claimed physiological properties of milk bioactive components have been carried out in vitro or in animal model systems, and these hypothesized properties remain to be proven in humans. Whether these milk bioactive components will replace drugs entirely in the immediate future is still unclear, but the increasing appreciation of "drug foods" or nutraceuticals plays a complementary rather than a substitutional role to the synthetic pharmacological drugs.


A role for milk proteins and their peptides in cancer prevention.


Journal: Curr Pharm Des. 2007;13(8):813-28.


Authors: Parodi PW.


Dairy Australia, Human Nutrition and Health Research, Melbourne, Australia.


Abstract: A role for the amount and type of dietary protein in the etiology of cancer has not been studied extensively. Nevertheless, there is no compelling evidence from epidemiological studies to indicate that protein, at levels usually consumed, is a risk factor for cancer. On the other hand, animal studies suggest that certain peptides and amino acids derived from dietary proteins may influence carcinogenesis. The predominant protein in milk, casein, its peptides, but not liberated amino acids, have antimutagenic properties. Animal models, usually for colon and mammary tumorigenesis, nearly always show that whey protein is superior to other dietary proteins for suppression of tumour development. This benefit is attributed to its high content of cystine/cysteine and gamma-glutamylcyst(e)ine dipeptides, which are efficient substrates for the synthesis of glutathione. Glutathione is an ubiquitous cellular antioxidant that directly or through its associated enzymes destroys reactive oxygen species, detoxifies carcinogens, maintains proteins in a reduced state and ensures a competent immune system. Various experiments showed that tumour prevention by dietary whey protein was accompanied by increased glutathione levels in serum and tissues as well as enhanced splenic lymphocyte proliferation, phagocytosis and natural killer, T helper and cytotoxic T cell activity. Whey protein components, beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin and serum albumin were studied infrequently, but results suggest they have anticancer potential. The minor component lactoferrin has received the most attention; it inhibits intestinal tumours and perhaps tumours at other sites. Lactoferrin acts by induction of apoptosis, inhibition of angiogenesis, modulation of carcinogen metabolising enzymes and perhaps acting as an iron scavenger. Supplementing cows with selenium increases the content of selenoproteins in milk, which on isolation inhibited colon tumorigenesis in rats.


Therapeutic applications of whey protein.


Journal: Altern Med Rev. 2004 Jun;9(2):136-56.


Authors: Marshall K.


Abstract: Whey, a protein complex derived from milk, is being touted as a functional food with a number of health benefits. The biological components of whey, including lactoferrin, beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, glycomacropeptide, and immunoglobulins, demonstrate a range of immune-enhancing properties. In addition, whey has the ability to act as an antioxidant, antihypertensive, antitumor, hypolipidemic, antiviral, antibacterial, and chelating agent. The primary mechanism by which whey is thought to exert its effects is by intracellular conversion of the amino acid cysteine to glutathione, a potent intracellular antioxidant. A number of clinical trials have successfully been performed using whey in the treatment of cancer, HIV, hepatitis B, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and as an antimicrobial agent. Whey protein has also exhibited benefit in the arena of exercise performance and enhancement.


Emerging health properties of whey proteins and their clinical implications.


Journal: J Am Coll Nutr. 2007 Dec;26(6):713S-23S.


Authors: Krissansen GW.


Department of Molecular Medicine & Pathology, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.


Abstract: The nursery rhyme "Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet (small stool) eating her curds and whey. ..." is recognition of the fact that over the centuries "curds and whey", the two major components of cow's milk, have been widely accepted as part of a healthy diet. Milk provides complete nourishment for the neonate for six months from birth, containing factors that help develop various organ systems including the brain, immune system, and the intestine. Importantly it provides immune protection at a time when the neonates own immune system, though fully developed, is albeit immature. Many adult consumers include cow's milk as part of a healthy diet as it provides protein and essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, in particular calcium for strong bones. There is a growing appreciation that milk, and in particular whey, contains components that not only provide nutrition, but can also prevent and attenuate disease, or augment conventional therapies, when delivered in amounts that exceed normal dietary intakes. This paper reviews the emerging health properties of whey proteins and their clinical implications.