Whey protein provides wonderful health benefits, but just how safe is it?
Whey protein is a hot item among athletes, bodybuilders, and people who do high-impact exercise. And for good reason. A supplement mix containing all the essential amino acids, this high-protein powder supports the immune system, builds muscle, burns fat, and increases athlete performance. It has the highest amount of protein for the fewest number of calories. Whey is a great source for cysteine, a major building block of the prostate cancer-fighting agent glutathione. It’s a wallop of wellness in one convenient source.
Many athletes drink whey in place of breakfast. A healthy option, as long as they are choosy about which whey they drink. But it stuns me that while these athletes appear to be concerned about their health, several of them have no idea what ingredients whey supplements contain. Many protein powders contain toxic ingredients such as aspartame, sucralose, fructose, and artificial flavors and colors. They are sweetened with chemicals known to cause serious health problems. Aspartame, originally discovered as an ulcer drug, breaks down into the chemical compound formaldehyde. Formaldehyde, when ingested, causes damage to the optic nerve, brain cells, and nerve cells which control body movement. It has been linked to migraine headaches (which I can attest to), muscle tremors, vision problems, and mental confusion. Sucralose is not as dangerous as aspartame. Still, it is an artificial sweetener that causes migraines and it is believed that long-term use could cause serious health problems.
Are there any safe whey protein powders?
Definitely! They just are not as numerous. Look for whey that contains no added sugar and no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or artificial sweeteners. A good sweetener alternative is stevia, a natural herb that contains no calories and does not affect blood sugar levels. Also look for whey that is certified free of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH). I recommend whey sold at MyNutritionStore.com. They carry hydrolyzed whey (most digestible whey, leads to better absorption) with none of the bad ingredients mentioned but do contain these important ingredients:
How to drink it.
Follow the instructions on the container or spiff it up a bit by making a smoothie with milk, yogurt, or ice cream and your favorite fruits. It’s not only for breakfast either. You can drink it any time of the day, although some people claim whey is most effective before a workout. Here is a good recipe from The Abs Diet: