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 overconsume 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/0,6330,96910,00.html
“…After whey has been clarified and fines removed, fluid is routed through a pasteurizer and into 10,000-gallon 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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