Generally, people tend to associate whey protein powder with athletes or those looking to pack on some muscle.
The truth, however, is that this common nutritional supplement has a huge variety of potential benefits – particularly if it's a grass fed protein powder.
What are some of these extra, oft-forgotten perks? Why is grass fed protein powder superior than some of the other options out there?
Why Food Matters
Let's start with what makes grass fed protein powder different, since this will help you understand some of the specific nutrients we'll talk about later on.
Here's the thing: cows are supposed to eat grass. For large-scale commercial farms to let their cows pasture, however, a lot of work – and a certain element of risk is involved.
First of all, more land is needed and then the cows have to be monitored over that greater distance. Plus, that land needs to be cleared and enough healthy grass has to be provided for the cows to have their needs met.
So, while this is the animal's natural state, it's easier for the humans involved to employ something called a feed-lot. In this system, cows are confined to a much smaller space and given cheaper grain-based foods. Usually, this food is taken from a GMO crop and treated with a variety of chemicals designed to impact the cows' health, growth, and milk production.
But, why does this matter to you? Apart from the ethical issues involved, grass-fed cows produce more healthful milk. Dairy sourced from these animals is higher in omega-3 and conjugated linoleic fatty acids, as well as several other potent antioxidants.
General Immune Health
Right, so grass fed protein powder has more nutrients. Got it. But how, precisely does this benefit you? In many ways, actually. Two of the main components of whey are the proteins lactalbumin and lactoglobulin.
A 2009 study published in the Journal of Nutrition reported that these two proteins act to “prime” your neutrophil cells and makes them more effective.
The most common form of white blood cells, neutrophils actively hunt down and kill any microorganisms that might invade your system. Other immune cells, like macrophages and lymphocytes, also get a similar boost when exposed to the unique proteins in whey.
Anti-oxidant and Anti-Cancer Action
Bound up in the healthy fats of grass fed protein powder is a useful substances called cysteine. When your body gets a hold of cysteine, it is quickly converted into the powerful antioxidant known as glutathione.
Through this mechanism, whey protein directly increases the levels of glutathione production in your body. Along with generally helping to reduce the inflammation and other symptoms of free radical damage, glutathione may be effective in treating some forms of cancer by making them more susceptible to chemotherapy.
The peptide lactoferrin has likewise shown promise at killing off various forms of cancer cells, especially when combined with chemotherapy.