The Evidence That Supports the Use of Milk Protein for Metabolic Health

Can the consumption of milk protein play an important role in fighting back against health issues such as diabetes and obesity? Disorders of the metabolism, from the inability to combat high levels of blood glucose (hyperglycemia) to excess fat deposition, are the precursors to many more serious health effects. According to a study published in the medical journal Nutrition & Metabolism, though, there are some substances which may provide some positive benefits for those whose metabolic health has been compromised. By examining the benefits of milk-derived proteins, such as milk protein concentrates, the authors establish some potential avenues for future research. First, let’s explore some background information and determine why this area of research is essential. 

What is Metabolic Health? Why Does It Matter?

In simplest terms, metabolic health refers to the ability of the body to process nutrients properly and to avoid the release of excessive nutrient compounds into the blood. For example, elevated levels of glucose (hyperglycemia) or fat (dyslipidemia) can both cause adverse effects on one’s health. They also raise the risk of hypertension or high blood pressure. Keeping all these elements in harmony matters for a simple reason: taken together, these conditions, plus obesity, fall under the name “metabolic syndrome.” According to the study authors, sufferers of metabolic syndrome are at significantly elevated risk levels of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Therefore, investigations into the potential of milk proteins to mitigate hyperglycemia, etc., are of interest and importance.

Milk Proteins May Play a Critical Role in Insulin Secretion

Science has shown that as the body processes the two main proteins found in milk, called whey and casein, the natural and essential amino acids they contain begin to stimulate the body to express insulin into the bloodstream. Whey protein, in particular, seems to be exceptionally good at stimulating the secretion of insulin following the consumption of a meal, which may play a vital role in helping to reduce or manage the risk for the development of type 2 diabetes. Results on casein studies were mixed, with no clear conclusions. However, this is fertile ground for future research on how milk proteins influence insulin production. 

Milk Protein May Support “Bad” Cholesterol Management

Reducing the risk of heart disease, one of the largest causes of death worldwide, requires a better diet and plenty of exercise. However, milk proteins may have a role to play in helping to regulate the amount of “bad” cholesterol, also called LDL, that circulates in the bloodstream. Lowering LDL levels helps to prevent plaque formation, hardening of the arteries, and the other risk factors that cause heart attacks. According to the study, milk proteins have been shown to have some effect in suppressing the lipemia that can cause health problems in the future. 

MPC Could Contribute to Improved Appetite Control

One of the challenges in preserving good metabolic health is that it is not purely physical; there is a mental aspect to contend with, too. Overeating and a lack of activity cause the conditions that lead to diabetes and heart disease. One study reviewed by the authors notes that protein products containing both whey and casein have an observed suppressive effect on an individual’s appetite. In other words, people felt “full” for longer after consuming a meal supplemented by milk proteins, reducing the recurrence of appetite and providing a potentially valuable pathway for weight control.

Processing Matters for Effective Milk Proteins

There is one crucial fact to note in many of the studies that produced interest outcomes regarding the metabolic health effects of dairy proteins. In each of them, both whey and casein working together produced better results, especially for appetite suppression. Good, non-chemical production methods are a necessity for producing milk protein products that contain not only whey and casein, but also the natural minerals and other nutrients found in milk. Therefore, future research should focus more on the potential benefits and biochemical effects of milk protein concentrates produced via the ultrafiltration of skim milk. By physically separating the proteins, they retain the natural products that make them so potentially valuable.

More Study is Still Necessary

Ultimately, the authors of the study point that there are several areas where additional research is necessary to fully understand the potential benefits and impacts of milk proteins on the body. From increasing “feelings of fullness” to potentially aiding type 2 diabetics in the management of their insulin deficiencies, there are many promising areas yet to explore. For now, there is a wealth of excellent research establishing that at the very least, there are some baseline benefits to enjoy from the consumption of products containing complete milk proteins including whey, casein, and the entire spectrum of essential amino acids. 

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