Feature: Whey To Go For Protein Power


Alternavita Magazine© Feature Article

Combatting Protein Energy Malnutrition With Liquid Whey

What is Protein Energy Malnutrition/Protein Calorie Malnutrition?

Protein energy malnutrition (PEM) is defined as a form of malnutrition due to lack of protein and can be moderate to severe

Types of protein malnutrition are:

Kwashiorkor: Protein malnutrition dominant
Marasmus: Deficiency in calorie intake
Marasmic Kwashiorkor: Marked protein deficiency and marked calorie insufficiency, the most severe form (PCM)

Kwashiorkor is a nutritional deficiency disease caused when infants are weaned from their mother’s milk and placed on a diet consisting of low-protein cereals. The most striking symptom of kwashiorkor is edema. Other symptoms may include loss of hair and skin pigmentation, scaliness of the skin, and diarrhea. As the disease progresses, a person may develop anemia, digestive disorders, brain damage, a loss of appetite, irritability, and apathy.
Protein energy malnutrition is more common in low-income countries although higher income countries are also affected. This may also occur in patients with chronic diseases and who are institutionalized or hospitalized.
Protein energy malnutrition affects children and elderly the most. The main causes in the developed world are ignorance of the nutritional needs of children, particularly in cases of milk allergy and inadequate nutrient dense food. 6 million deaths are attributed to Kwashiorkor annually.

Protein energy malnutrition can have significant lifelong effects

Protein malnutrition is detrimental at any point in life, but prenatally it can have significant lifelong effects. Diets that consist of less than 10% protein in utero have been linked with many deficits, including decreased brain weight and impaired communication within the brain. Even mild protein malnutrition has been shown to have lasting significant effects, including:

  • Decreased brain size with impaired neocortical plasticity

  • Decreased sperm quality

  • Low Birth Weight

  • Decreased cardiac energy

  • T cell depletion

  • Oxidative stress

  • Increased passive stiffness in skeletal muscles

The most common co-morbid conditions are diarrhea and malaria but a variety have been noted, including sepsis, severe anemia, pneumonia, tuberculosis, scabies, chronic ear infections, rickets, and keratomalacia.

Associated malnutrition deficiencies

Other severe malnutrition deficiencies associated with kwashiorkor include scurvy, beri beri, pellagra, rickets, vitamin A, E and K deficiency and mineral deficiencies.

What is liquid whey?

Whey is the transparent, yellowish-green liquid separated from the curdled milk during cheese production. It is also called lactoserum and is also found in yogurt. Liquid whey has a slightly tart but pleasant flavor. It is not the same as the powdered, unhealthy, and denatured whey, which is often sold in health food stores.
Acid whey is also a waste by product generated by the creation of Greek Yogurt. Greek yogurt production generates tons of acid whey yearly. For years, companies have paid farmers to spread the waste as fertilizer or feed it to livestock but when the popularity of Greek yogurt skyrocketed yogurt makers began working together with scientists to develop more economical ways to get rid of their acid whey. About two-thirds of the milk used to make Greek yogurt ends up as this by-product. Acid whey can’t be poured down the drain because it is high in nutrients that would fertilize nearby waters.

How does liquid whey benefit protein calorie malnutrition?

Milk and whey proteins have different biological and functional properties

The typical composition of milk comprises about 3.6% protein, out of which casein predominates at approximately 80% and remaining 20% are whey proteins. Whey proteins are unique, superior proteins with many health benefits.

Whey proteins are rapidly absorbed

Whey proteins are absorbed faster in body than casein. Plasma amino acids are more rapidly elevated following whey protein consumption. Whey proteins are superior to gelatin proteins.

Whey proteins decrease inflammation as compared to casein

It was found that the consumption of whey proteins depleted the plasma levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines as compared to casein.

Whey protein benefits the microbiota in several ways

The predominant nutrient in milk whey liquid is carbohydrates in the form of lactose. Cells in the body are rapidly able to derive energy from whey.
Apart from being a good source of energy, lactose that is converted to lactic acid in the intestine helps in the regulation of intestinal flora by promoting growth of good bacteria and inhibiting development of putrefactive bacteria that produce toxins causing bloating and gas. The lactic acid found in fresh whey is L+ lactic acid rather than D- lactic acid and is easily metabolized. Lactose support LAB (such as Bifidobacteria & Lactobacilli).

Stallic acids are a type of oligosaccharides found in whey that possess prebiotic properties. These organic acids possess antimicrobial properties, particularly against E. coli. They help to lower the pH of the intestine and increase the secretion of bile juices and absorption of nutrients.

Vitamins And Minerals

The vitamin content of whey provides nearly all B vitamins. Liquid whey contributes several minerals to the diet. One cup of acid whey provides 250 mg of calcium and 200 mg of phosphorus. Whey supplies potassium, magnesium and zinc.
Liquid whey contains more calcium than milk in the form of calcium phosphate that selectively stimulates the growth of intestinal lactobacilli and decreases Salmonella infections.


Protein energy malnutrition is a mild to severe form of malnutrition caused by lack of food, substandard nutrition or ignorance of nutrition during pregnancy and post weaning. Various other causes are chronic medical conditions and institutional care. PEM contributes to millions of annual deaths.
Liquid whey proteins are unique proteins that contain all essential amino acids. Whey is one of the most studied compounds in dairy products and is; anti-hypertensive, anti-oxidative, immmuno-modulant, anti-mutagenic, anti-microbial, opioid, anti-thrombotic, anti-obesity. Fermented liquid whey products are gaining popularity worldwide and are considered an excellent source of dairy peptides.
Whey proteins can be used for optimizing immune function in elderly, critically ill or immuno-compromised individuals to treat disorders such as arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

How can you easily reduce the risk of protein energy malnutrition?

10 things you should know about liquid whey

  1. The uniqueness of whey proteins is due to their ability to boost the level of glutathione (GSH) in various tissues and to optimize the immune system.

  2. Beta-lactoglobulin comprises approximately half of the total protein content in bovine whey. This protein, has an ability to modulate lymphatic responses and to bind fatty acids.

  3. Alpha-lactalbumin is the second most important protein in whey. Alpha-lactalbumin plays a vital role in reducing the risk of some cancers as it constrains cell division.

  4. Bovine serum albumin (BSA), the most important property of bovine serum albumin is its ability to bind to various ligands reversibly.

  5. Immunoglobulin-G (IgGs), Lp and Lf concentrated from whey participates in host immunity. IgGs binds with bacterial toxins and lowers the bacterial load in the large bowel.

  6. The major application of lactoperoxidase is a protective factor against infectious microbes.

  7. Lysozyme exhibits antibacterial activity against gram-positive bacteria only. It is also used in the treatment of bacterial and viral infections, skin and eye diseases, periodontitis, leukemia and cancer.

  8. The proteose peptone 3 component is found only in whey excluding from the human source. It is produced during the fermentation of fat-free bovine milk and enhances the production of monoclonal antibodies .

  9. Glycomacropeptides are also known as Casein Macro-Peptide (CMP) contains large numbers of branched chain amino acids.

  10. Whey compounds are able to survive passage throughout the entire intestinal tract. Whey components that provide antimicrobial action are IgG, IgM and IgA. IgG binds to toxin produced by Clostridium difficile, thereby reducing diarrhea, dehydration and muscle aches. GMP inhibits binding of cholera toxin to receptors in the intestinal tract.


Whey Benefits The Gastro System And Promotes Healing

  • Whey proteins exert a therapeutic effect on the gastric mucosa. This effect is due to the presence of sulfhydryl group in amino acid cysteine and its linkage with glutamic acid in the production of glutathione.

  • Wound healing involves the growth of new skin through the use of proteins and their amino acids. The healing process is delayed when there are inadequate amounts of protein or diets high in poor-quality proteins, such as gelatin are present. Whey proteins provide good quality proteins and are therefore often recommended by physicians after any surgery or burn therapy.

  • In a study, Lactobacillus acidophilus subsp. johnsonii (La1) has been shown to effectively suppress the growth of Helicobacter pylori. The results were confirmed by conducting a hydrogen breath test. The whey-drink based on L. acidophilus (johnsonii) culture was given to some volunteers and a marked decrease in test values was observed.


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