Trade journals and exercise and bodybuilding magazines are bulging at the seams with ads for whey protein powders. Many of them tout amazing improvements in everything from strength, endurance, muscle size, energy levels and even improved immune system function. Are these whey protein powders all they are cracked up to be, or are they more like one of those movies that is advertised heavily, hyped up for months and, when you finally see it, you find the best of the movie was the ad itself? Well, as I will show you, it all depends on which way you look at it. To be capable of making sound choices in the purchase and use of any whey product including protein powders, it requires some understanding of:
- The source of the product
- How the product was processed
- Why it is being used
- How best to use it
Once these issues are addressed, the exercise and/or healthcare professional will be in position to optimally reap the benefits of whey products.
The Historical Relationship Between Man, Milk and Whey
The two great evolutionary periods in the history of humanity — first biological and then cultural — are very unequally divided. The steps of biological evolution that separate us, Homo sapiens, from a small stone-using creature in central Africa, Australopithecus, took millions of years, while cultural history is crowded into the last 10,000 or 20,000. Evidence indicates that people in the High Sinai Peninsula at the northern end of the Red Sea used fences to aid in confining and breeding antelope for their milk as long as 30,000 years ago. While this may be so, it is likely that both civilization and regular consumption of animal milk only occurred when huntsmen turned into herdsmen. It was the Indo-Europeans of central Asia who were among the earliest consumers of animal milk. This region (the Near East and Balkan Peninsula) is also thought to be the origin of the agricultural revolution occurring in approximately 6000 BC.
When one considers that all plants and animals exhibit a will to live and don’t want to be eaten, it becomes evident that milk is the only substance purposefully designed and prepared by nature as food. In all cases and until very recently (in the last 10,000 years), both animals and human beings consumed milk as a whole food, not processed or fractionated in any way. Considered the fruit of all mothers, milk is produced at the nutritional expense of the mother’s own body if she is not adequately nourished with the sole purpose of supporting new life. This point will be considered carefully in regard to whey products later in this debate. Loaded with all the needed micronutrients and antibodies to nourish and protect the growing infant, Mother Nature creates an individual recipe for each species in its own mother’s milk – a high fat, protein rich whole food.
With the innate knowledge that the unadulterated milk of a mother provides an essential foodstuff that is supportive of life, people have pursued alternative uses for it. Through trial and error, milk derivatives such as butter, cream, ice cream, yogurt, kefyr, buttermilk and many types of cheese have been made primarily from sheep, goats and cows to supplement the human diet. Most recently whey, a byproduct of cheese making, has resulted in the production of whey protein powders and bars.
Many tribes and societies in various regions throughout the world have maintained very high levels of health with the addition of natural, raw milk products in their diet. A particularly useful source is butter, which offers a wealth of fat soluble vitamins and other useful nutrition when derived from a quality organic source. While most people don’t realize it, whey – until very recently – was considered a waste product by the dairy industry, and dairy farmers usually fed it to their pigs. It was only after having dumped untold millions of gallons of whey into rivers and even on roads that the cheese industry investigated making whey protein from the waste product. While there are numerous research studies touting the many benefits of whey protein today, one must be very careful when reading such studies and claims. In most instances, the whey used in the studies is of far better quality than the whey the manufacturer actually produces and sells under the guise of the study. In fact, the only way to determine the quality of a whey protein product is to qualify the source, and you simply can’t make health giving, high quality whey products from sick cows!
After giving birth, a cow normally produces milk for roughly 12 weeks. Like any female animal
(including human mothers), this production is at the expense of her own tissues, and at this time, it causes her to lose weight, become infertile and makes her more susceptible to diseases such as mastitis (inflammation of the udder). Living within the structure of a closed organic cycle, as any animal in the wild does, there is typically adequate nutrition to foster a healthy birthing and milking process. After all, this is Mother Nature at work.
Commercial farmers have another plan all together. They actually extend the natural milking cycle by giving a cow recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH). Through the use of rBGH, a farmer can postpone the end of the natural milking cycle for another 8–12 weeks; this means the cow’s entire body undergoes irregular and unnecessary stress for a prolonged period of time. Prosilac’s (the name of the engineered hormone) warning even states, “Cows injected with Prosilac are at an increased risk for clinical mastitis.” In fact, according to the book Milk: The Deadly Poison, it increases risk of infection by almost 80%.
In addition to a high incidence of mastitis, commercially raised cows are not typically exercised adequately nor fed high quality food. While not specifically targeting dairy cows, the general state of the commercial cattle industry as a whole can be surmised from reports on factory farming stating that “Some producers have begun research trials adding cardboard, newspaper and sawdust to cattle feed programs to reduce costs… Cement dust may become a particularly attractive feed supplement in the future, according to the US Department of Agriculture, because it produces a 30% faster weight gain than cattle on regular feed.” In addition, “Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials say that it’s not uncommon for some feedlot operators to mix industrial sewage and oils into feed to reduce cost and fatten animals more quickly.” Commercial farming conditions coupled with an extended milking cycle via exogenous hormones results in the farmers frequently having to give these cows antibiotics. Thirty antibiotics are approved through the FDA (if that means anything anymore!), and another 50 are suspected of being used illegally.
Within the dairy industry, the correlation between animal husbandry and milk quality is not only well known but has been universally known for some time. In 1950, Friend Sykes, a famous British organic farmer and milk producer, was singled out by the British Council of the Milk Marketing Board for producing exceedingly nutritious milk amid concerns of decreasing nutrition in British milk as a whole. In 1950, the Milk Marketing Board had recognized a 50-year trend in decreasing nutrition! The trend concerning the Milk Marketing Board was the progressive decline in milk solids relative to milk fats (milk solids are proteins, minerals and trace minerals). Because Friend Sykes’ milk was 20% higher in protein than the average for all of England, Dr. Provan, a Milk Marketing Board investigator, was sent to Sykes’ farm to find out how he could possibly produced such high quality milk.
Sykes showed them precisely how he grew the grass, hay, corn, kale and oat straw to feed his milkers and how he properly cared for them. When looking at the quantity of food consumed by Sykes’ organic cows, the Milk Board investigator was surprised because the quantities were notably lower than traditionally fed to milkers, and on inspection of the herd, the investigator noted “…they were in fact in better condition than any Guernsey herd he had seen [that] spring.” Not surprisingly, it has been shown that farm animals, including milkers, consume about 30% less food by volume when fed organic fare due to the increased concentration of nutrition! Additionally, research also shows a direct correlation between feed quality and animal health, so why should we think humans are any different?
What should be of interest to you here is that while they were not looking specifically at whey, they were looking at the milk — the source of whey. One need not have the intellect of Socrates or the genius of Einstein to come to the simple conclusion that the whey product can only be as good as the milk it came from!
Pasteurized Milk – The Source of Most Whey Proteins
“Raw milk cures many diseases.”
J.E. Crewe, MD, The Mayo Foundation, January, 1929
What Is Pasteurization?
Surprisingly few exercise or healthcare professionals actually understand the pasteurization process. Many know that it means the milk is heated to kill potentially harmful bacteria, but that’s about as far as their understanding goes. I wish it were that simple, but there is so much more to be concerned with in regard to pasteurization, and understanding the process is vital when choosing a whey protein product.
The pasteurization process involves heating milk for 30 seconds at 63º C (~145º F), for 15 seconds at 72º C (~162º F) or for one second at 89º C (192º F). Milk is declared pasteurized when the chemist finds no enzymes present in the milk!
Now, to really begin to get a sense of what it means to pasteurize a food such as milk or juice, we must define what an enzyme is. An enzyme is a complex protein produced by living cells that promotes a specific biochemical reaction by acting as a catalyst. An understanding of the pasteurization process is very important because by the very definition, pasteurization means the complete obliteration of enzymes. What does that mean to you and your choice of whey protein, you may wonder? Well, to begin with, by referring to the definition of an enzyme, enzymes are complex proteins; therefore, the pasteurization process can and does kill and damage proteins! Keep in mind that the more dead something is when you consume it, the more energy it takes your body to enliven it or make it transmutable to human tissue! In addition to killing all the enzymes or in essence removing life from the product, the pasteurization process has been shown to have the following effects on milk (which is the source of cheap industry whey protein powders and supplements):
- We are told pasteurization is a good thing, a method of protecting us from bacteria and disease, yet all outbreaks of salmonella from contaminated milk in recent decades (and there have been many) occurred in pasteurized milk. One example arose in Illinois during 1985 where 14,000 people were infected, and at least one death occurred.
- Raw milk contains lactic-acid producing bacteria that protect against pathogens, and pasteurization kills these helpful organisms. Therefore, pasteurized milk has no protective mechanism if undesirable bacteria contaminate the supply. Raw milk will turn sour, while pasteurized milk will putrefy (commonly referred to as rotten or soured milk).
- Heat alters amino acids in milk (lysine and tyrosine), making the whole complex of proteins less available.
- In those with weak digestive systems, which is sadly very common today, pasteurized milk passes through, not fully digested, and can build up around the tiny villi of the small intestine, preventing absorption of nutrients and promoting uptake of toxic substances. The result is allergies, chronic fatigue and degenerative diseases.
- Chemicals such as synthetic vitamin supplements D2 (toxic and linked to heart disease) or D3 (hard to absorb) are commonly added during pasteurization of milk to suppress odor and restore taste.
The pasteurization process also:
- Promotes rancidity of unsaturated fatty acids.
- Destroys vitamins. Vitamin C loss is usually more than 50%, while the loss of other water soluble vitamins can be as high as 80%, and Vitamin B12 is totally destroyed.
- Reduces availability of minerals such as Ca, Cl, Mg, P, K, Na and S.
- May alter lactose, making it more readily absorbable (aiding in lactose intolerance).
- Puts unnecessary strain on the pancreas to produce digestive enzymes, which may be why milk consumption has been linked to diabetes.
- Destroys all enzymes, making Ca from milk difficult to absorb.
Why Pasteurize Milk?
The pasteurization of milk is a critical link in the whey story because, again, the whey can only be as good as the source material. The story of milk pasteurization is best documented in The Untold Story of Milk by Ron Schmid, ND, and begins with the War of 1812 against England, which resulted in the permanent denial of the whiskey supply America procured from the British West Indies. As a result, the domestic liquor industry was born, and by 1814, grain distilleries began to spring up in the cities as well as the country. Distillery owners began housing cows next to the distilleries and feeding hot slop, the waste product of whiskey making, directly to the animals as it poured off the stills. Thus, the slop or swill milk system was born.
Slop is of little value in fattening cattle because it is unnatural food that makes them diseased and emaciated. But when slop was plentifully supplied, cows yielded an abundance of milk. Diseased cows were milked in an unsanitary manner, and the individuals doing the milking were often dirty, sick or both. In addition, milk pails and other equipment were usually dirty; therefore, such milk many times led to disease. By the last decade of the 19th century, a growing number of influential people throughout the country believed that American cities had a milk problem.
Pasteurization began around 1900 and was seen as a solution of sorts. But soon thereafter, the certified raw milk movement surmounted, which insisted on clean, fresh milk from healthy, grass-fed animals. Henry Coit, a medical doctor, was the founder of the first Medical Milk Commission and the certified milk movement. Physicians in cities throughout the country considered raw milk essential in the treatment of their patients. They worked diligently together to certify dairies for the production of clean, raw milk, resulting in the availability of safe, raw milk from regulated dairies. Initially, from around 1890 to 1910, the movements for certified raw milk and pasteurization coexisted, and in many ways, complemented one another. From about 1910 until the 1940s, an uneasy truce existed. Certified raw milk was available for those who wanted it, but the influence of the pasteurization lobby saw to it that most states and municipalities adopted regulations that required all milk other than certified milk to be pasteurized. The end of this truce has led to the subsequent outlawing of all retail sales of raw milk and juices in most states.
Many people today find it surprising that support of raw milk among physicians was widespread in the first half of the 20th century. The use of raw milk as a treatment of chronic disease has a rich and welldocumented history. In 1929, J. E. Crewe, MD, one of the founders of the Mayo Foundation, the forerunner of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, published an article entitled “Raw Milk Cures Many Diseases.” Here is an excerpt from Dr. Crewe’s account of his experience with raw milk:
“For 15 years, the writer has employed the certified milk treatment in various diseases, and during the past 10, he had a small sanitarium devoted principally to this treatment. The results obtained in various types of disease have been so uniformly excellent that one’s conception of disease and its alleviation is necessarily changed.”
Dr. Schmid gives extensive background to both support the nutritional and medical value of raw milk and the potentially damaging effects of consuming pasteurized milk in his recent book and article titled Raw Milk – History, Health Benefits and Distortions. I would also like to draw your attention to the work of Francis Marion Pottenger, M.D., which further fortifies my concerns in regard to the quality of whey protein derived from pasteurized milk.
The Famous Pottenger Cat Study
Physician Francis M. Pottenger, Jr. successfully applied the principles of Weston Price in his treatment of respiratory diseases such as TB, asthma, allergies and emphysema. At his sanitorium in Monrovia, California, he served liberal amounts of liver, butter, cream and eggs to convalescent patients. He also gave supplements of adrenal cortex to treat exhaustion.
Like Price, Pottenger was also a researcher and decided to perform adrenalectomy on cats and then feed them the adrenal cortex extract he prepared for his patients in order to test its effectiveness.
Unfortunately, most of the cats died during the operation. Having acquired his research cats as donations from the surrounding neighborhood, Dr. Pottenger noticed the health of the cats varied, as did their response to surgical intervention. Soon, so many cats had been donated that the supply of cooked meat scraps was insufficient to feed the cats. Dr. Pottenger made arrangements with a local meat packing plant to acquire raw meat scraps for the cats. Soon, he began to notice definite differences in the health of the cooked meat cats versus the raw meat cats; the raw meat cats more readily survived surgical intervention.
To determine the effects of cooked foods versus raw foods on his subjects, he conceived an experiment that lasted 10 years, in which he broke some 900 cats into groups: one group of cats received only raw milk and raw meat, while other groups received part of the diet as pasteurized milk or cooked meat. A short summarization follows:
The Meat Study
ADEQUATE DIET A: 1/3 RAW milk, cod liver oil and 2/3 RAW meat
DEFICIENT DIET B: 1/3 RAW meat, cod liver oil and 2/3 PASTEURIZED milk
DEFICIENT DIET C: 1/3 RAW meat, cod liver oil and 2/3 EVAPORATED milk
DEFICIENT DIET D: 1/3 RAW meat, cod liver oil and 2/3 SWEETENED CONDENSED milk
DEFICIENT DIET E: RAW METABOLIZED VITAMIN D milk only, either 1) from cows on dry feed or 2) from cows on green feed
Pottenger found that only those cats whose diets were totally raw survived the adrenalectomy, and as his research progressed, he noticed that only the all-raw group continued in good health generation after generation — they had excellent bone structure, freedom from parasites and vermin, easy pregnancies and gentle dispositions. All of the groups whose diets were partially cooked, developed “facial deformities” of the exact same kind that Price observed in human groups on the “displacing foods of modern commerce:” narrowed faces, crowded jaws, frail bones and weakened ligaments. They were plagued with parasites, developed all manner of diseases and had difficult pregnancies. Female cats became aggressive while the males became docile. After just three generations, young animals died before reaching adulthood and reproduction ceased.
The results of Pottenger’s cat experiments are often misinterpreted. They do not mean that humans should eat only raw foods — humans are not cats. Part of the diet was cooked in all the healthy groups Price studied, and Pottenger fed a diet of both raw and cooked food to his patients. (Milk products, however, were almost always consumed raw among healthy primitives, and Pottenger was a strong advocate for clean, certified raw milk.)
Pottenger’s findings must be seen in the context of the Price research and can be interpreted as follows: When the human diet produces “facial deformities” — the progressive narrowing of the face and crowding of the teeth — extinction will occur if that diet is followed for several generations. The implications for western civilization, obsessed as it is with refined, highly sweetened convenience foods and low-fat items, are profound.
The famous soil scientist William Albrecht made additional comments in regards to this important cat study. He discovered that at the close of the experiment, volunteer weeds grew up in the pens, which had clean quartz sand as their flooring material. The vigor of the weed growth followed the same pattern as the health of the cats.
“All the evaporated and heated milks coming by way of the cat dung apparently did not put into the sand enough fertility even to invite weed growth. Raw milk had put so much back, even after feeding the cats better, that the weed growth filled the pens completely.”
Albrecht went on to tell of a further test with the soils under the cat pens as follows:
“…the weeds were dug in and Michigan White dwarf beans planted in all four pens. They, too, followed the same pattern as the weeds, but in this case, even growth habit was changed. In the raw milk pen, the beans ceased to be dwarf and climbed the wire 6 feet high. These beans were left to ripen and the seed harvested. All the seed, except that from the raw milk pen, smelt of cat excreta. This odor is caused by the common fecal excretions indole and skatole, which are ring compounds (any compound in which the constituent atoms, or any part of them, form a ring) unbroken by digestion. Indoleacetic acid is the plant hormone, giving pronounced growth of roots and shoots. Indole becomes this hormone by addition to the indole ring. With little further change by addition, it becomes tryptophane, the frequently deficient but required amino acid.”
The presence of indole odor in the cat dung was in all the ripe seeds except the “pole” beans in the raw milk pen. Dr. Albrecht’s suggested interpretation is that the beans took up the indole in unbroken form, but in the case of those growing on the dung of the raw-milk-fed cats, it was converted into indoleacetic acid, and possibly tryptophane, as part of the bean protein. Dr. Albrecht further proposed that this may well be the normal route of travel of the organic compounds in the cycle from soil to plant to animal and back to the soil. In this case, two living forms were involved, the cat and the bean, and the effect of merely sterilizing or pasteurizing the milk was in some way to upset the normal flow of these organic compounds in the cycle.
What is worthy of note here (and this is easily seen if you read Pottenger’s Cats) is that not only were there devastating negative effects from the pasteurized milk products in the diets of the cats, but the dwarf beans later grown in the soil from the cats on pasteurized milk diets were similarly effected. In reading the book and looking at the pictures of the dwarf beans, it is apparent that the more pasteurized the grade of milk (pasteurized and evaporated, sweetened and condensed) fed to the cats that fertilized the soil with their excreta, the more unhealthy the plants grown in that soil became. In his work, Dr. Pottenger suspected that what was occurring in the cats fed on cooked meat and pasteurized milk products was a germ-plasm injury. Germ-plasm being the physical basis for inheritance, a germ-plasm injury may be interpreted to mean an injury to the genetics or DNA, which is a logical conclusion when you look at the faults in structure and reproduction in both the plants and animals fed processed foods and denatured proteins!
While many are quick to negate the value of animal studies such as Pottenger’s because humans are obviously not cats, it is important to know that he did say, “While no attempt will be made to correlate the changes in the animals studied with malformations found in humans, the similarity is so obvious that parallel pictures will suggest themselves.” It is also relevant to point out here that Francis Pottenger was not a research scientist who only worked with lab animals and not humans. He was a practicing physician of the highest order. In the end of Pottenger’s Cats, he shows pictures of some of his patients to highlight some of the parallel results between his processed food-consuming cats and his human patients suffering from similar diets. When you read the book, the fact that cats and humans are both mammalian systems and transfer of results is obvious will be entirely clear to you!
How is Your Whey Processed?
Currently, there are several grades of whey protein. Will Brink, a well known expert on sports nutrition, covers the difference between whey protein powders extensively in a two article series titled, “The Whey It Is.” (These articles can be found at www.bodybuildingforyou.com. While I am suggesting you read these articles to inform yourself, I am not endorsing the products.)
The quality of the whey protein supplements/powders you purchase will be influenced by:
- The quality of the source material (milk): commercially farmed, organically farmed, certified organic and biodynamic.
- Processing of the source material (milk), such as pasteurization, shipping, stabilizing, etc. In my opinion and experience, organically produced milk that has been pasteurized is dramatically less nutritious in any form than a raw source product.
- Handling of the whey itself in the journey from the milk processing factory to the protein powder manufacturer: shipped in tanker trucks (whey is inherently unstable and typically has to be chemically stabilized) and how it is handled and stored when it arrives at the manufacture point will potentially influence product quality.
Clinically, many of my associates, be they medical doctors, naturopathic doctors, holistic health practitioners or other C.H.E.K Nutrition and Lifestyle Coaches (NLCs) and I have found that regardless of the volume of so-called “scientific papers” backing whey protein powders, there are very few clinically observable benefits from pasteurized whey protein supplements. To give you an example of how careful you have to be, and how people are commonly deceived, ConsumerLab.com’s recent testing of nutrition bars found that 60% of the products did not meet their label claims. Look at the comments regarding tests on three of the protein bars tested by Consumer Labs (www.ConsumerLabs.com):
- A protein bar contained 33% more carbohydrates (8.3 grams) than its stated 25 grams.
- A low-carb bar contained 50% more (1 gram) of saturated fat than its stated 2 grams.
- An energy/nutrition bar contained approximately 27% more saturated fat (.8 grams) than the 3 grams claimed.
While the protein and meal replacement products they tested did fare better, it should interest you to know that many of these products are made and/or produced from the same companies. That said, I think you are looking at industry ethics here. Properly investigated, I’m confident you would find that 98% of what you are buying in the name of “health” is actually junk — expensive junk at that!
Some of my immediate concerns regarding the use of whey protein powder supplementation by powder or in protein bars are:
- Many, if not most, have cheap synthetic vitamins added to them. Synthetic vitamins, in my opinion, should only be used for their drug-like effects on the body and only by those so qualified to prescribe and manage such effects. Synthetic vitamins have also been found to produce other vitamin deficiencies in the body. Personally, I encourage all C.H.E.K NLC practitioners to avoid them.
- Many have processed sugars in them, which cause all the problems associated with sugar consumption in general. If you want sugar, eat real food, and you will get sweet nutrition. Anything else is likely to have what Weston A. Price calls a displacing effect, meaning that it costs your body more to digest, metabolize, assimilate and eliminate than it provides in nutrition; therefore, it displaces or robs you of nutrition!
- Many have stabilizers, additives, preservatives and artificial colorings in them. On investigation, you will find that 30-50% of these produce gastrointestinal (GI) inflammation. GI inflammation, in turn, leads to leaky gut syndrome, which causes a host of problems from there, not the least of which may well be due to intolerance to your whey products!
- Frequently, they use additional cheap protein supplements to bolster the total protein content, such as soy protein isolates (see my article titled “Sans Soy!”) and casein. Robert Rowkowski, D.C., a lecturer for the Metagenics Nutraceutical Corporation explains in his lectures on weight loss that many people are addicted to casein containing products, including general dairy. He states that this is caused when the consumer’s digestive system is ineffective at breaking down the dairy proteins. Undigested casein can result in the production of caso-morphogins, and these morphine-like molecules actually have a drug-like effect on the body and, without direct realization, the consumer is actually becoming addicted to the casein containing products they are eating. Things to consider in light of the frequent use of casein in protein powder and protein bar supplements are:
- Some people are allergic to casein, which is one of the most difficult proteins for the body to digest.
- Butter and cream contain little lactose or casein.
- Fermented or soured butter and cream are easier to digest.
- In addition, an article published on mercola.com (Discover Magazine 8/00 by Dr. T. Colin Campbell) expressed some concerns regarding casein consumption. Campbell conducted a series of experiments at Cornell University and Virginia Tech that found rats given a brief initial exposure to aflatoxin, a carcinogen produced by mold growth, tended to develop liver cancer when fed casein, the main protein in milk. “We could turn on or turn off the cancer growth by increasing or decreasing the amount of casein.” Campbell also did research by feeding casein to rats (15-20% of their diet – by weight – from casein). He found that the threshold amount of casein required for switching on tumor growth averaged around 10% of the diet.
- Casein has also been found to act as an enzyme inhibitor.
- The fats included with most commercial whey protein products are poor quality and often processed.
- Dieters are often tempted to add protein powders to up the protein content without adding too many calories at the same time. The result can be a diet unnaturally high in protein, something that all primitive peoples avoided. Protein requires vitamin A and other fat soluble vitamins for its metabolism, and a diet too high in protein without adequate fat rapidly depletes vitamin A stores, leading to serious consequences such as heart arrhythmias, kidney problems, autoimmune disease and thyroid disorders. Diets too high in protein also cause a negative calcium balance, where more calcium is lost compared to the amount taken in. This condition can lead to bone loss and nervous system disorders, problems rampant among the exercising and non-exercising population alike!
A clue to making high protein diets and protein supplementation in general a success comes from studies of the diets of carnivores like dogs and lions. Weston Price reported that lions could not breed in captivity when fed on steak alone. When liver was added, they bred easily. When lions in Africa are fed exclusively on muscle meats, they become cripples due to spinal collapse. When they were given bones that they could crush, the problem resolved itself. Bones provide calcium and liver provides vitamin A — among many other nutrients — working synergistically with the protein in muscle meats. Those on the Atkins diet or similar high protein diets should eat liver at least once a week and/or take cod liver oil daily along with the use of bone broths in soups and stews.
- Fibro-proteins result when the whey in milk is exposed to the heat of pasteurization or any processing methods that denature the whey proteins. Fibro-proteins are typically very hard to digest and can produce the same digestive discomfort that eating high-fiber foods do. This is particularly a problem for those that are, in metabolic typing terminology, Protein Types. This is because protein types typically come from genetic stock emanating from cold regions of the world or places with long winters (North American Indians, Eskimos, Irish and British for example), and their bodies have not learned to process high protein foods/diets effectively.
- Many of my patients and athletes using whey protein powders were having allergic or intolerance reactions to them. In fact, milk and dairy products of all types are the most likely to trigger allergic responses because some 20 substances in cows milk are human allergens. It is worthy to note that many of my patients/clients who can’t typically tolerate dairy products can consume raw dairy with little or no trouble. This is likely due to the fact that raw dairy products, including whey, remain “living foods” with enzymatic and nutritional systems intact.
- Once taken off the whey protein supplements, many aggravating conditions cleared up, including:
- Skin problems
- Respiratory problems, including excess phlegm production, sinus and ear congestion o Fatigue o Headaches o Water retention o Constipation
- Poor concentration and brain fog o Pungent sweat
- Muscle and joint aches and pains o Digestive troubles
Why Are Whey Protein Powders Being Used?
Whey used to be considered a dairy industry waste product. When cheese, butter and cream were made on the farm, the whey and skim milk were given to the pigs and chickens. But today, these products are made in factories far from the farms where they originated, so the industry has a “whey problem.” Until recently, the actual cost to get rid of whey by dumping it in sewer systems, rivers, on roads or fields or feeding it to pigs was equal to or slightly more than the value of whey as a commodity. The problem was solved by manufacturers that could afford the more advanced technology needed for drying the skim milk and whey at high temperatures and putting the powders into energy drinks, body building powders and high-protein bars.
Whey protein is inherently fragile and must be processed at low temperatures or its qualities as a protein are destroyed. That is why casein rather than whey protein is used in animal chow. While the cheaper whey protein products are manufactured under rather harsh conditions (see Appendix 1 below), the more exotic whey products are cold filtered, yet that doesn’t tell you anything about what happened to the milk before the whey fraction suddenly became treated like royalty!
Other major ingredients include high fructose corn syrup (or concentrated fruit juices, which are high in fructose), an ingredient that has been shown to be worse for test animals than sugar. “Natural flavors” and piles of synthetic vitamins are thrown in so both powders and bars can be called “complete.” On reading labels, you will also find these so-called health foods to contain hydrogenated oils and highly processed oils, such as Canola oil. Wherever you have whey protein, you also have fat and cholesterol bound to the proteins, which is hard to measure. You can rest assured there is a very good chance that there are some fancy foot steps being taken in regards to labeling fats. While I am a big believer in the value of dietary cholesterol from natural whole food sources, such as eggs and animal foods in general, I don’t think oxidized cholesterol does our plumbing any good. Since we do have cardiovascular systems to care for, I feel consumers of pasteurized whey products should be very concerned as to the level of cholesterol oxidation that has taken place in processing most whey protein supplements.
The US, England and most other European countries are swimming in whey protein. A new catch phrase among cheese makers has been “cheese to break even, whey for profit.” In addition to whey protein powders used in hopes of adding muscle mass, the many products containing whey ingredients are infant formulas, sports drinks, diet supplements, coffee whiteners, salad dressings, soups, baked goods and baking mixes, meats and sausage, gravies and sauces, cakes and pastries, chocolate, candy, fudge, pie fillings, crackers, pasta, mayonnaise, baby food, processed fruits and vegetables and a wide range of processed dairy products. Exports are also a growing market for whey solids. US exports of whey products have grown from 137 million pounds in 1994 to 435 million pounds in 2000.
It turns out that the old adage “One man’s garbage is another man’s gold” is all too true when referring to the dairy industry. Throughout history, there are examples of how someone has found a benefit from something others thought was of no value. This is the case with whey protein in isolation of the fat and remaining milk solids the cow produces as a food complex. There are now numerous scientific studies showing the benefits of whey protein isolates and whey factions, such as lactoferrin (a simple Internet search on Pub Med yielded 1,076 studies on whey protein alone!).
Most of the physicians I know and work closely with in the treatment of cancer and chronic diseases use organic raw, cold processed whey protein and whey protein isolates to both provide a highly bioavailable protein source and to support the immune system. I have used and currently use organic whey protein powders for the following types of cases:
- Chronic disease
- Digestive disorders
- Chronic fatigue
- Heavy stress
- Feeding people on meat restricted diets
- Supporting athletic training in select cases
- Improving hormonal balance in those with elevated stress hormones and depressed anabolic hormone profiles
Wherever possible, I prefer to use whole foods, particularly animal and fish protein sources, to meet the protein needs of my patients and clients. I do not feel that we have any means of improving on Mother Nature’s products as a whole, but I do believe there is a time and place for specialty products such as the whey products I use for the types of situations I’ve listed here. As I explained above, consuming protein without fat and fat-soluble vitamins is risky business if health is your aim. In nature, you won’t find anything with a set of eyeballs that offers fresh protein without fresh fat and fat-soluble nutrition to help break it down during the digestive process. It is my greatest recommendation to all my patients, clients and students that they do not try to find health through supplements but that they use supplements, when necessary, to bolster a high quality organic whole food diet. You could easily kill someone feeding them nothing but the very best whey protein powders! This may sound silly, but if you analyze the diets of many on weight loss programs and those with both aesthetic and performance goals in gyms, you will be shocked to find that whey-based shakes and bars account for a large percentage of daily calories in many instances.
To drive the point of comparing Mother Nature’s products to those of man’s ingenuity, I often make the point that to fill one of the typical containers of something like Designer Protein with organic fillet steaks would cost about $180-$200 USD. Yet, the going price for bulk whey protein powder, before the product manufacturer puts it in the can/jar for you, is about 14 cents a pound! After they throw in some junk additives, colorings and flavorings, it may cost them 40 cents a pound. You are paying anywhere from $25-$40 a can/jar for the stuff, which is pretty expensive considering that just a few years ago, the dairy industry considered it a waste product. On the flip side, if you are going to buy a whey protein powder, buy a good one! There are only two that I can recommend (you will find they are expensive, but that’s because they are the real thing!):
- Imuplus is a whey protein isolate produced by Swiss Pharmaceutical. Imuplus is not a whey protein concentrate, which means that instead of using the kind of standard technology described in Appendix 1, very expensive and advanced technology is used to isolate key protein fractions such as lactoferrin and glutathione. Imuplus also has the common allergenic fractions removed (I am allergic to milk and personally can’t tolerate Imuplus, yet most of my patients with milk allergies and intolerance can). In my conversations with the distributor (www.biogene.net), she stated that Imuplus is organic and produced from raw stock. When I asked if they could send me a copy of their organic certification, she said that information was “proprietary.” The reason for this was beyond me until I found this statement: “Fat and lactose free, the whey used for IMUPlus™ is from the milk of USDA Grade A dairy cows.” That being said, I have had good results with the product. Imuplus is not like the kind of protein powders most of you are used to using. It does not work well at all when mixed with fruit juices or most other typical ingredients used to make “protein shakes.” My patients that have tried using it that way all describe feeling like they had “bricks in their stomachs.” It is a medical grade protein supplement and must be used exactly as described. I have also had athletes who are used to consuming large amounts of protein powder ignore my instructions to stick to only two to four packets a day (depending on needs), only to end up smelling like an unhealthy gym rat with a taxed liver! This product is highly bioavailable and should be seen as a medical supplement and not a food.
- Eclater de Sante (Essence of Life) – Nick Abrishamian, Ph.D. is a clinical biochemist and is the only person I know to acquire FDA approval to formulate and sell a raw, organic whey protein. Not surprisingly, he informed me that it took several years of battling the FDA to get this rare approval. An expert in blood analysis, Dr. Abrishamian typically customizes each batch of whey protein to the individual’s needs. For those without blood analysis, it is possible to order Eclater de Sante in its standard formulation. Like Imuplus, I learned of this product through one of my associates, Dr. Dan Kalish, an instructor of the C.H.E.K Nutrition and Lifestyle Coaching program. Dr. Kalish uses Eclater de Sante to help patients in need of biologically available protein, immune modulation and support. I have personally tested Eclater de Sante and had minimal problems. Like Imuplus, it did give me the typical headaches I get from consuming any dairy products (aside from butter), yet it did improve my recovery from hard training sessions while lecturing on the road. This product is a medical grade supplement, and again, it should not be used in place of a whole food organic eating plan.
To determine whether your favorite whey protein powder has been denatured (damaged) in processing, fill a glass (so you can see through it) with six ounces of room temperature water. Sprinkle one serving of the product on the surface of the water and let it sit for 30 minutes. Observe one of the following:
- If the powder remains on the surface, then you can consider your product non-denatured. This means it is not damaged and therefore, it will serve your body.
- If the color of the water turns murky and/or a residue is seen at the bottom of the glass, then you can consider your product highly denatured, and therefore, of little value.
It is also important to note that as a container of whey protein powder is opened and closed repeatedly, it becomes oxidized, progressively losing it’s original bioactivity. That being said, if you are going to purchase a custom whey protein product, you will be better off requesting multiple small portions to minimize exposure.
Using Whey Protein Powder Supplements
The way to use whey protein isolates is as follows:
- Never attempt to replace real food with any processed product, regardless of how good it is! Nothing is better than organic, free range animal foods or ocean-caught fish for providing your daily requirements of quality protein and the fats and fat soluble nutrients that should be consumed with it!
- Be clear on exactly why you are using such supplements. If you are just doing what everyone else is doing, it will get you nowhere, unless you enjoy being limited to poor results! Once you know exactly what you want to accomplish, consult an expert with proven results to give you guidance in the best use of the product. Examples of how I use these products are:
- To support protein absorption in people with damaged small intestines.
- To support immune function in ill patients.
- To speed healing from injury and illness.
- To support recovery in select athletes.
- To assist in hormonal modulation in key patients/athletes.
- To support patients on various forms of vegetarian diets (I am not in favor of vegetarian diets in any form but must respect the religious, emotional and mental dictates of my clients/patients).
- Don’t over consume the expensive, highly bioavailable products I’ve mentioned here. In short order, your sweat will become pungent, and you may feel fatigued. This is because you are literally overdosing on protein! Because these whey protein isolates modulate the immune system, you could end up with less than favorable responses. For example, you could begin to rapidly detoxify yourself, and while detoxification is good, going too fast is certainly not optimal for the body.
- Follow the directions given by the manufacturer for use. I’ve had patients revert to typical “shake mix” behavior and end up feeling quite uncomfortable (even after I warned them).
- Be careful if you have a known allergy or intolerance to dairy products. Although the products I’ve recommended here don’t cause problems for many such people, I personally found that I got headaches from them.
Whey protein powders and isolates are not created equal. High quality products manufactured from cold processed milk and/or raw organic milk sources, although expensive, are highly effective. Whey protein supplements such as Eclater de Sante are living food nutrients and should be respected and treated as such. They should be used intelligently and should never be used as meal replacements. Cheap products with synthetic additives, preservatives, colorings and flavorings should be avoided completely; the process described in Appendix 1 is not one organic raw whey protein can survive without becoming denatured. Great care must be taken not to confuse the research on medical grade, high quality, cold processed, whey protein isolates with cheap substitutes. Many companies site research on products far superior to theirs to support the sales of what is often, for lack of a better description, garbage!
Appendix 1: How Whey Protein Is Manufactured
I have extracted the relevant portions of a technical bulletin so you can see how fragile whey protein can easily become denatured in the manufacturing process. This is not how expensive, high-grade whey protein products are manufactured, but it is how much of what the exercise industry consumes is manufactured. If you wish to read the entire article, please see “The Value-Added Whey – Whey is the lemon of cheese production. Cabot Creamery leveraged modern technology to turn it into lemonade.” Magazine Issue Date: 02/01/2002. Source: http://www.foodengineeringmag.com/CDA/ArticleInformation/features/BNP__Features__Item/0,6330,96 910,00.html
“…After whey has been clarified and fines removed, fluid is routed through a pasteurizer and into 10,000gallon storage tanks. The whey then goes through an ultrafiltration system that boosts protein to 35%. The resulting protein concentrate undergoes chromatographic separation to extract and concentrate lactoferrin. The 35% WPC is then pumped to a diafiltration system to increase protein concentration to 80%. The filtration system’s PLCs feed data via an Ethernet connection to the plant’s control room. Flow meters on the shop floor are clearly marked and coded, and flow direction through every pipe is labeled, simplifying maintenance and repair tasks.
“With protein content removed, the remaining fluid moves to a permeate pasteurizer before undergoing reverse osmosis to remove two-thirds of the water. The RO concentrate then is brought to 60% total solids with a falling film TVR evaporator. Next, the concentrate is pumped to one of five 6,000-gallon glycol-jacketed crystallizers, where sugar crystals will be formed in a highly viscous fluid. Significant agitation is involved in this controlled cooling process, which takes 18 to 24 hours.
“…After leaving the crystallizer, fluid is sent to a multi-stage drying system. During this process, outside air is heated with propane and mixed with atomized permeate that is pumped under pressure of 5,000 to 6,000 psi to the top of a 90-foot-tall drying chamber. Residence time dictates the height of the dryers, with somewhat shorter units needed for WPC drying… Cyclones recapture most of the permeate that doesn’t fall to the bottom of the dryer. A timing belt at the base of the dryer conveys permeate through a fluid bed dryer, after which the material is pumped pneumatically to the top of a storage silo at a rate of 5,400 pounds an hour. At this point, moisture content has been reduced to about 3%, compared to 94% at the beginning of the process. Permeate is packaged in 1,000-pound totes and 25 kilo bags. Five days a week, three trailer-loads of packaged permeate are hauled away, to the tune of 35 million pounds a year.
“By the end of the process, virtually all solids have been removed, leaving only 155,000 gallons of water. Some of that water is routed through a polisher, then through a UV system before being chlorinated for use in plant wash down and in two 900 HP Nebraska boilers. The remainder can be safely discharged into the municipal waste system.”
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