Milk whey—commonly known as cheese whey—is a by-product of cheese or casein in the dairy industry and contains usually high levels of lactose, low levels of nitrogenous compounds, protein, salts, lactic acid and small amounts of vitamins and minerals. Milk whey contains several unique components like immunoglobulins (Igs), lactoferrin (Lf), lactoperoxidase (Lp), glycomacropeptide (GMP) and sphingolipids that possess some important antimicrobial and antiviral properties. Some whey components possess anticancer properties such as sphingomyelin, which have the potential to inhibit colon cancer. Immunoglobulin-G (IgGs), Lp and Lf concentrated from whey participates in host immunity. IgGs binds with bacterial toxins and lowers the bacterial load in the large bowel. There are some whey-derived carbohydrate components that possess prebiotic activity. Lactose support lactic acid bacteria (such as Bifidobacteria
). Stallic acids, an oligosaccharide in whey, are typically attached to proteins, and possess prebiotic properties. The uniqueness of whey proteins is due to their ability to boost the level of glutathione (GSH) in various tissues and also to optimize various processes of the immune system. The role of GSH is very critical as it protects the cells against free radical damage, infections, toxins, pollution and UV exposure. Overall GSH acts as a centerpiece of the body’s antioxidant defense system. It has been widely observed that individuals suffering from cancer, HIV, chronic fatigue syndrome and many other immune-compromising conditions have very poor levels of glutathione. The sulphur-containing amino-acids (cysteine and methionine) are also found in high levels in whey protein. Thus, the present review will focus on the therapeutic potential of milk whey such as antibiotic, anti-cancer, anti-toxin, immune-enhancer, prebiotic property etc.
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