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Whey is one of the two major classes of protein in milk. (The other is casein, the “curds” of “curds and whey.”) Proteins are made of amino acids, and whey contains high levels of the amino acid cysteine. This is the basis for many of its proposed uses. It also contains branched chain amino acids ( BCAAs ). However, while there is no question that whey is a highly digestible and rich protein source, there is no meaningful supporting evidence that it provides any specific health benefits.
There are no well-documented medicinal uses of whey protein.
There is some evidence that whey can raise levels of glutathione . Glutathione is an antioxidant that the body manufactures to defend itself against free radicals. In certain diseases, glutathione levels may fall to below-normal levels. These conditions include cataracts , HIV , liver disease, diabetes , and various types of cancer. 1 This reduction of glutathione might in turn contribute to the symptoms or progression of the disease. To solve this problem, glutathione supplements have been recommended, but glutathione is essentially not absorbed at all when it is taken by mouth. 2 Whey protein may be a better solution. The body uses cysteine to make glutathione, and whey is rich in cysteine. Meaningful...