Whey protein could be one of the most potent supplements for preserving health. It is a unique protein with unique properties. In nature, as part of milk, it develops and grows immature individuals as rapidly and as healthy as possible and protects them from harmful pathogens. It has a profound effect on the body. Whey protein is proving to be one of the best supplements to help prevent and treat obesity, muscle wasting, diabetes and cancer. Studies demonstrate the ability of whey proteins to promote whole body and muscle protein synthesis. Other developing avenues of research explore health benefits of whey protein that extend beyond protein and basic nutrition. Many Bioactive Components derived from whey are under study for their ability to offer specific health benefits like enhanced immune function and anti-oxidant activity. Whey protein is one of the most complete and biologically active forms of protein available.
Although originally a constituent of milk, whey protein isolate is not milk. It is 94% protein. The proteins from whey are highly bioavailable, are very quickly absorbed into the body, and have a high concentration of Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) which are highly concentrated in muscle tissue, and are used to fuel working muscles and stimulate protein synthesis. The remaining 6% is mostly minerals. Whey protein isolate is virtually free of lactose. Whey protein is easy to take, has no flavour, and is easy to digest.
Yet, many cat owners are concerned about the inclusion of whey protein isolate in the TCfeline premix, because dairy is often said to be bad for cats, and many health practitioners point the finger to dairy for causing everything from allergies to Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD). Allergy testing for cats does not exist in the veterinary praxis, however, and the causes of IBD are largely idiopathic, making the finger-pointing at dairy as causative agent for disease unfounded. Consumption of plain milk does cause diarrhoea in many cats due to their inability to digest lactose (milk sugar) as adults. However, whey protein isolate is not milk and contains virtually no lactose.
Although many adult cats can no longer digest lactose for lack of producing the necessary enzyme lactase for its breakdown, the fact remains that cats are mammal, and as such, milk is essentially a perfectly natural food for them. The reason why adult animals become intolerant to digesting milk is not adulthood itself, but a decline in production of the digestive enzyme lactase correlating with reduction of milk intake. In short: use it or loose it. Inability to digest lactose does not make the other constituents of milk an unnatural food. Especially for carnivores that rely on protein and fat for sustenance, the protein and fat from milk are an extremely valuable food.
Whey protein is used as a valued nutritional support for all age groups from infants to the old to the ill and the wounded. Inclusion of whey protein in the diet of cats assures optimal nutritional support for a species that uses protein not only for its functional role, but also as a source of energy. It can help the overweight lose excess fat and help the underweight gain weight in the form of lean muscle. The protein from whey also helps to decrease the rate at which glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream; this aids in the maintenance of insulin levels.
Health Benefits of Whey Protein:
Immune System Enhancement and Antioxidant Benefits
Research has shown that several components in whey protein work together to improve immunity. The gastro-intestinal tract houses the largest portion of the immune system – the gut-associated lymphoid tissue and mucosal-associated lymphoid tissue. These tissues, as well as the colonic epithelial cells, are the initial interface between bacteria, nutrient uptake, and the rest of the body. These tissues are one of the major sites for potential intervention with whey-derived ingredients for the promotion of host immunity. Bioactive components such as Immunoglobulins (Igs), Lactoferrin (Lf) and Lactoperoxidase (Lp) concentrated from whey have been shown to participate in host immunity. This and a much higher concentration of the sulphur-containing amino acid Cysteine and Methionine than in any other food, all in a highly absorbable form, make whey protein such a valuable supplement.
Cysteine and Methionine are necessary for the biosynthesis of Glutathione, the antioxidant that quenches oxidative stress, destroys reactive oxygen species, detoxifies carcinogens and ensures a competent immune system. Consumption of whey protein, which is rich in Cysteine and Methionine, can provide a needed boost to the immune system by raising Glutathione levels. Studies have shown that Gluthathione levels can be raised effectively through the consumption of whey protein. Some individuals with suppressed immune systems or degenerative diseases use undenatured bioactive whey proteins to increase their antioxidant levels.
Lactoferrin in whey protein stimulates the growth of new immune cells and is an iron-binding protein. The Lactoferrin-iron combination provides a stable method of iron transport, and lessens the amount of free iron in the system that can trigger oxidative reactions.
Many components of whey protein are established immune-enhancing constituents that modulate a full range of immune functions, including destruction of pathogens and elimination of toxins. Whey supplementation significantly improves primary and secondary antibody responses to a variety of vaccines. Whey protein was found in an array of studies to be superior to other commercially available protein sources in improving adaptive immune reactivity. Mice supplemented with whey protein produced higher levels of white blood cells, lymphocytes, and cytokines—resulting in greater immune responsiveness and reduced infection severity. Several studies found that, compared to other protein sources, whey proteins much more substantially boost production of both humoral immune response and antibodies.
Antimicrobial and Antiviral Benefits
The bioactive components of whey protein, including the Immunoglobulins (Igs), Lactoferrin (Lf), Sphingolipids, Lactoperoxidase (Lp), and Glycomacropeptides can inhibit the growth of a wide range of bacteria, fungi, yeast, and protozoa. Significant levels of these compounds have been shown to survive passage through the stomach and small intestine to arrive as intact proteins in the large intestines, where they exert their biological effects. Perhaps the best known of the whey protein components that provide antimicrobial action in the intestinal tract are the Immunoglobulins (Igs). Igs fall into several sub classes including IgG, IgM and IgA. IgGs predominate in milk derived sources such as whey. IgG has been shown to bind the toxin produced by Clostridium defficile. Glycomacropeptides and Lactoferrin can function as prebiotics, supporting the growth of beneficial gut microbes which, in turn, possess antimicrobial effects against pathogenic bacteria. This iron-binding protein Lactoferrin itself has gained recognition for its antibacterial properties. Additionally Lactoferrin has shown to have important antiviral properties.
Amino acids offered by whey protein aid in the growth of beneficial organisms that can reduce the risk of gastrointestinal diseases. Whey protein isolate is also a good source of Lysine, an amino acid frequently prescribed by veterinarian to help suppress the replication of Feline Herpes Virus.
Animal studies have demonstrated that whey protein is superior to other dietary proteins for suppression of cancer development. In studies conducted on rats, whey protein has been shown to inhibit the growth of several types of cancer tumors. It was shown to prevent tumors as well as slow the development of tumors. Cysteine and Methionine from whey protein are utilized in glutathione synthesis. Glutathione is widely distributed in the body and is a substrate for two classes of enzymes that catalyze detoxification compounds and bind mutagens and carcinogens, facilitating their elimination from the body. A diet supplemented with whey protein provides protection against toxin-induced cancers of the esophagus, lung, bladder, colon, liver, and breast. And it appears that the earlier the whey protein is started, the greater the protective effects might be.
Other bioactive components of whey protein also contribute to its anti-cancer activity. Sphingomyelin has been shown to help prevent colon cancer and stop the spread and development of various other forms of cancer. Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), a fatty acid found in dairy, as been shown to inhibit a number of types of cancer cell lines and protect against chemically-induced cancers from environmental toxins. Lactoferrin powerfully inhibits tumors by various pathways, including inducing apoptosis, blocking angiogenesis, modulating carcinogen-metabolizing enzymes, and possibly by scavenging iron.
Wound Healing, Illness and Aging
The Glycine content of whey protein undoubtedly contributes to its ability to help repair tissue and heal wounds. Whey protein also provides growth factors which have been shown to accelerate wound healing in the gut, and whey protein has been shown to protect the stomach and intestinal tract from stress-induced ulcers. In order to heal an open wound, the body also demands extra amounts of proteins and amino acids. Without adequate or proper types of protein, the healing process may take longer. Whey protein is often recommended by physicians for burn victims or surgery patients to reduce healing time. Wasting syndrome characterized by progressive loss of weight, muscle, and strength associated with various chronic or malignant diseases may also be slowed with the consumption of whey protein.
Many aging individuals are affected by age-related muscle wasting. The most metabolically active branched chain amino acid in whey protein is Leucine, which promotes muscle synthesis. Aging muscle becomes resistant to Leucine stimulation, but taking Leucine with meals by inclusion of whey protein can overcome this aging deficit, stimulating muscle synthesis.
Bone Cell Growth Benefits
Whey protein contains Lactoferrin, which is associated with a wide range of benefits including immune support, anti-inflammatory action, cancer prevention, infection fighting, and wound healing. Research from New Zealand has now determined that Lactoferrin is also able to increase the production of new bone and protect against bone breakdown.
As people age, they can lose their ability to effectively uphold strong bones and muscles. One way to achieve healthy bones and muscles is through a protein-rich diet. It is seen that elderly individuals who consumed low levels of protein had a significant loss of bone density. Aging individuals may also benefit from whey’s ability to promote bone formation and suppress bone resorption.
The whey protein isolate from New Zealand used in the TCfeline cat food premix is considered to be the best whey protein in the world. The New Zealand government does not allow the use of hormones, antibiotics, and GMO feeds in the care of dairy cattle. Pesticides are not used in pasture and crop management. New Zealand whey protein is produced from milk from grass-fed cattle. Dairy cattle are kept outside on pasture, and are fed hay if sheltering is necessary. New Zealand whey protein isolate is produced using only cross flow microfiltration. It utilizes a cold filtering process and minimal processing which produces a whey protein product that is 100% undenatured and a whey protein that is much higher in immunoglobulins, upwards of 10% compared to 1-5% in other brands. New Zealand whey protein isolate is soy, gluten, lactose, yeast, and wheat free.
Whey protein has been a component of the TCfeline cat food premix for over 10 years. The effectiveness and safety of the premix is put to the test with my own study group of cats every day. In addition, thousands of cat lovers utilize the premix in the care of their cats. No ingredient is blended into the premix without purpose or benefit for your cat.