Nutrients in whey protein may offer solutions to diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, and poor bone formation

A plant-based diet can be beneficial to your health in many ways, but some experts have voiced concerns that people who avoid animal-derived foods entirely are missing out on some very useful nutrients that can help fight chronic disease.

Dr. Ian Givens, a food chain nutrition professor at the University of Reading, recently spoke at the inaugural Food Protein Vision conference held in Amsterdam, where he emphasized the role of dairy proteins in addressing many of the problems that are currently plaguing human health, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and poor bone formation.

Dr. Givens believes that type 2 diabetes is the biggest nutritional health challenge facing modern society, and evidence shows that whey protein can stimulate insulin production. For example, studies have shown that whey protein can slow gastric emptying and boost the secretion of the hormone incretin. This lowers post-meal glycemic response.

In addition, whey protein is a great source of amino acids, which can impact the secretion of insulin and help reduce the post-meal glycemic response even further.

Timing is everything when consuming whey protein

When it comes to whey protein consumption, timing can play a role in how far its benefits can stretch. For example, he says that in the elderly, the greatest effect in reducing the loss of muscle mass comes when the protein is consumed right after resistance exercises. The anabolic effect of the two together is greater than the sum of their effects when taken separately.

In addition, he says that consuming more protein at breakfast can help reduce hunger better throughout the day. He points out that the “English breakfast” has shifted over the years from being rich in protein to a meal that is mostly based on processed carbohydrates – and it’s taking its toll on people’s health.

On the topic of losing weight and keeping it off, he says that a higher protein intake paired with carbohydrates that are low on the glycemic index is the way to go. As the most satiating of the macronutrients, protein should be included in every meal.

Whey protein’s remarkable disease-fighting abilities

How can whey protein help fight cardiovascular disease? A study published in the Clinical Nutrition journal found that participants noted dramatic improvements in key markers of blood fats after adding whey protein to their meals for just four weeks, reducing their risk of heart disease.

That study also pointed to the possibility of whey protein helping to fight liver disease as well. Supplementation with whey protein significantly reduced the amount of fat found inside the liver cells of women who were obese.

Meanwhile, a study published in the International Dairy Journal revealed that people with high blood pressure who took whey supplements on a daily basis noted a reduction in blood pressure of a remarkable six points; those who do not suffer from high blood pressure did not note this effect. This type of reduction has been shown in previous studies to reduce a person’s risk of fatal stroke by as much as 40 percent while also reducing their risk of cardiovascular disease.

Best of all, it’s a very affordable solution that has not been shown to be harmful, according to researcher Susan Fluegel. You can find whey protein in foods like ricotta cheese, yogurt and milk.

People who avoid all animal-based products could be doing themselves a huge disservice by missing out on this powerful nutrient that can do so much for the body. This illustrates the importance of researching any dietary changes you plan to make very carefully to ensure you aren’t doing more harm than good.

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