IMMUNE BOOSTING POTENTIAL OF PROTELICIOUS COLD FILTERED WHEY AND THE CONTRIBUTION TO PROTECTION AGAINST VIRUSES AND BACTERIA
By: Dr JEAN-FRANCOIS LESGARDS, Chief Science Officer
Dr Jean Francois Lesgards has a Post Doctorate degree in Chemistry and Biochemistry with 20 years of fundamental and clinical research in nutrition, food, health and inflammatory diseases.
Protelicious is a concentrate of whey proteins obtained by a cold process that guarantees the preservation of the quality of proteins in their native form (like in milk).
That’s why a supplementation with this product will bring to your body a clean source of high quality and fully available amino acids (AAs). This is not the case of whey treated with temperature and with strong acids or bases.
These AAs can contribute efficiently to boost your immune system and help you to fight against pathogen infections like coronavirus, influenza as well as against bacteria by different pathways:
First by reinforcing our white blood cells (in particular 2 families that are called T lymphocytes and natural killer lymphocytes) which are our first line of defenses against virus and bacteria (Lodoen MB and Lanier LL, 2006).
The researches of Wuhan laboratories have remarked very recently that T cell counts are reduced significantly in COVID-19 patients, and the surviving T cells appear functionally exhausted (Diao B et al., 2020).
These T cells need certain special AAs to be at their top: sulfur AAs (cysteine and methionine), glutamine and leucine. In particular sulfur AAs will permit to synthesize a key molecule for cells health called glutathione (GSH) which allows these 2 lines of white blood cells to work efficiently thus improve the identification and destruction of harmful bacteria and virus (Droge W et Breitkreutz R, 2000) (Grimble RF, Grimble GK, 1998) (Maciolek JA et al., 2014) (Wang K et al., 2017).
The second pathway is complementary to the first one: in order to be efficient, white blood cells will need to produce immunoglobulins or antibodies that will recognise virus and bacteria and bind them to prevent their entry (infection) in our cells like lungs cells in the case of coronavirus. Whey is naturally very rich in immunoglobulins (10-15 % of total proteins) and even if these proteins are digested before reaching our blood and our organs, they will bring to the body a good amount and ratio of AAs to help white blood cells to synthesise new immunoglobulins. In particular immunoglobulin A (IgA), which is found in high concentrations in the mucous membranes, particularly those lining the respiratory passages (so essential in the case of coronavirus or influenza) and immunoglobulin G (IgG), the most abundant type of antibody that protects against bacterial and viral infections.
Studies have shown that whey protein supplementation significantly increased immunoglobulins G levels (Bumrungpert A, et al., 2018)
A third way is the antioxidant/anti-inflammatory potential of whey.
During infection by a virus like COVID-19 or others, the body experiences increased oxidation caused by some aggressive molecules which contain oxygen called “reactive oxygen species (ROS)”: this produces a status called oxidative stress which is also associated with excessive inflammation.
Again, thanks to the exceptional richness of whey in the sulfur amino acids cysteine and methionine when compared to other sources of proteins (like vegetal protein concentrates for example), the boost of the synthesis of GSH (glutathione) which is the master antioxidant in the body will fight this oxidative and inflammatory state (Bounous G and Gold P, 1991).
The improvement of GSH that regulates the oxidative state in all cells of an organism will also prevent virus replications like influenza and other respiratory virus (Geiler J et al., 2010) and potentially attenuate symptoms and improve survival (McCarty MF et al., 2010) (De Flora S et al., 1997) (Mata M et al., 2012) (Nencioni L et al., 2003).
Furthermore, in prevention, GSH increase can also avoid susceptibility to influenza or corona infection before we get exposed to such viruses (Cai J et al., 2003) (Khomich OA et al., 2018) (Ghezzi P et al., 2004).
A fourth mechanism by which whey proteins and some AAs like glutamine in particular can improve our immune system is by a contribution to the regulation of gut health by protecting intestine membrane and the bacteria balance (a mix of “good” and “bad” or pathogenic bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms) in the intestine.
Indeed studies show that gastrointestinal microbiota plays a key role in immune adaptation also at distant sites and organs, such as the lung (Samuelson DR et al., 2015) which will be affected in the cases of coronavirus but also other organs such as kidneys or the cardiovascular. So gut bacteria equilibrium and gut health and in particular intestine surface state can affect lung health. That puts the gut in a central position in the cross-talk between organs.
Here is the explanation:
The gut microbiota is from far the richest in the body and is sometimes called “the forgotten organ”. It actually weights between 1 and 2 kg and represents around 100 trillion (1014= 100 000 000 000 000) of bacteria which is comparable to the number of our cells in all the body (O'Hara AM and Shanahan F, 2006)! About 70% of the body's immune system is located in the gut. The reason for this is because it is essential that the body deal with any pathogens in the gut, so they don't colonize and have a chance to enter the body!
Moreover a healthy intestinal barrier must have tight junctions between cells to avoid these pathogens or toxins from entering into the circulation. If the intestine becomes permeable, a condition called “leaky gut”, these molecules and bacteria go into the blood and can reach distant organs and cause inflammation, allergic reactions and auto-immune responses (Nagpal R et al., 2017).
Also when the gastrointestinal system is damaged or inflamed, the body will have to use even more energy and resources to maintain a healthy gut and immune system. Over time as the body's resources become depleted, the gastrointestinal immune system will begin to malfunction, and subsequently the entire body's immune system will malfunction. The result is frequent illness, asthma, eczema, and allergies.
Some studies show that AAs can really help to prevent or reverse “leaky gut” and improve gut microbiome (Dai ZL et al., 2011) and more work is needed.
Also, in the small bowel mucosa, glutamine is a unique nutrient providing fuel for metabolism, regulating cell proliferation, repairing and maintaining the gut barrier functions (Rao R and Samak G, 2012) (Andrade ME et al., 2015) (Reed PJ, 2000) (Cruzat V et al;, 2019) (Wu G, Morris Jr SM, 1998) (Wang W, 2009).
And glutamine and some other AAs like glutamatic acid, arginine, glycine, lysine, threonine, and sulfur-containing amino acids have shown to decrease gut inflammation and gut-related disease (Hou YC et al., 2014) (Wang W, 2009) (Benjamin J, et al., 2012). The interest of whey in improving leaky gut has been shown already by some studies (Brimelow RE et al., 2017) (Li Y et al., 2013) and it decreased inflammation (Kuhara T et al., 2014) even in patients with Crohn disease (Benjamin J, et al., 2012).
If you have any questions or clarification about any of the scientific information presented here please reach out to our team at email@example.com
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