Immune support is at the top of everyone’s minds these days. People tend to gravitate toward vitamins C and D. However, whey protein is probably one of the most overlooked tools you can use to improve and protect your immune system function.
Whey protein is considered a complete amino acid, meaning it contains all nine of the essential amino acids which can only be found in food. These amino acids are required by immune cells to function efficiently, and whey protein is their richest natural source and readily available to consumers
The immune system’s components are made up of amino acids and during infection, the body will draw upon the protein stores to make new cells, proteins, and peptides for the immune response.
Amino acids can also be irreversibly oxidized or converted to other fuels like glucose and glutamine as part of the immune response. Therefore, it is crucial to supply the body with high-quality protein, such as whey, through the diet to replenish any lost stores and ensure optimal immune health.
Whey protein is also an excellent source of non-essential amino acids. Some of those, especially, glutamine, arginine, and cysteine—have particularly powerful connections to immune health.
A few immune responses depend on glutamine to be carried out, so without ample glutamine, immune function takes a hit. In fact, research has connected this amino acid to the production of immune cells called cytokines and a type of white blood cells called lymphocytes.
Low levels of arginine, meanwhile, can suppress immune function. Research has linked this amino acid with supporting T cells, which are famous for their cell-regulating efforts in the body.
Cysteine is a building block for the powerful antioxidant glutathione. Since we need ample amounts of glutathione for the immune system to activate when it needs to kick into gear, cysteine is crucial for a healthy immune response.
So, while you may think of whey protein as a muscle builder’s supplement, it has many benefits beyond athletics. Consider adding whey protein to your arsenal in the battle to keep your immune system functioning at its best.