Anybody that is interested in health, exercise or even basic nutrition must know of whey. Some of us know it in its liquid form while others are more familiar with the powdered supplements, hydrolysates, isolates or concentrates. The most common forms of whey found in the market today are: sweet whey, acid whey, chocolate whey and mineral whey.
Before we get into the benefits of whey, it’s important to understand how and where it comes from. Milk contains two types of main protein: casein (80%) and whey (20%). Raw milk, when left to sour naturally or with the help of friendly lactic-acid-producing bacteria, goes through a fermentation process that leads to the creation of whey. The bacteria found or added to the milk digests the milk sugars, which creates a separation of the solid casein and fats (curd) from the liquid whey.
Why is whey protein good for us? Here are some of the reasons.
- It is one of the best dietary sources of high-quality protein. It can be easily digested and absorbed by the human body.
- It helps moderate blood sugar levels, especially for those suffering from type two diabetes.
- It helps in muscle growth and maintenance when coupled with strength training exercises.
- It contains bioactive peptides called lactokinins which help regulate and lower blood pressure.
- It helps boost the body’s natural antioxidant defences.
- It is very satiating and therefore helps those on weight loss programs.
- It acts as a great natural fertiliser for crops and plants, by replenishing the soil with healthy minerals and proteins.
- It’s works great as cattle feed, again by virtue of being high in nutrition and extremely satiating.
Long before the evolution of the food industry, the rise of protein supplements and meal replacement shakes, whey was widely used in many parts of the food production chain. Before cheap chemical additives and dough conditioners were introduced, bakers used whey to strengthen their doughs and increase the shelf life of their products. It was used as a cheaper yet healthy alternative to milk for pastries and cakes. There were processes in place that harnessed the benefits of whey through natural and sustainable processes.
By moving towards rapid industrialisation of food production, we have removed the ways in which we could naturally consume whey and replaced it with whey in a powdered, processed form, to be taken in addition to the food we eat and not along with the food we eat. We have increased our over all food consumption, making it difficult for us to burn those extra calories simply through an active life and pushing us closers to problems like type two diabetes and obesity.