Whey protein is one of the most popular supplements on the planet. But despite its many health benefits, there’s some controversy surrounding its safety. Some claim that too much whey protein can damage the kidneys and liver and even cause osteoporosis.
This article provides an evidence-based review of whey protein’s safety and side effects.
What Is Whey Protein?
Whey protein is a popular fitness and dietary supplement. It’s made from whey, which is the liquid that separates from milk during the cheese-making process. The whey is then filtered, refined and spray-dried into whey protein powder.
There are three main types of whey protein. The key difference between them is how they are processed.
- Whey protein concentrate:Contains roughly 70–80% protein. It’s the most common type of whey protein and has more lactose, fat and minerals from milk.
- Whey protein isolate:Contains 90% protein or more. It’s more refined and has less lactose and fat, but it also contains fewer beneficial minerals.
- Whey protein hydrolysate:This form is pre-digested, allowing your body to absorb it faster.
Whey protein is a popular choice among athletes, fitness enthusiasts and people wanting to build muscle or lose weight. Studies show it can help you recover from exercise, build muscle and strength and even lose weight by reducing your appetite and boosting your metabolism.
Whey protein is also a complete source of protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids. Your body cannot make essential amino acids, so it’s important to get enough of them from your diet. You can take whey protein simply by mixing it with water or a liquid of your choice.
It May Cause Digestive Issues
Most of whey protein’s side effects are related to digestion. Some people have problems digesting whey protein and experience symptoms such as bloating, gas, stomach cramps and diarrhea.
But most of these side effects are related to lactose intolerance. Lactose is the main carb in whey protein. People who are lactose intolerant don’t produce enough of the enzyme lactase, which your body needs to digest lactose. Moreover, lactose intolerance is incredibly common and can affect up to 75% of people worldwide.
If you are lactose intolerant, try switching to a whey protein isolate powder. Whey protein isolate is more refined, with a significantly smaller amount of fat and lactose than whey protein concentrate. People with lactose intolerance can often safely take whey protein isolate. Alternatively, try a non-dairy protein powder, such as soy, pea, egg, rice or hemp protein.
Some People May Be Allergic to Whey Protein
Because whey protein comes from cow’s milk, people with a cow’s milk allergy may be allergic to it. Nevertheless, cow’s milk allergies are very rare in adults, since up to 90% of people with cow’s milk allergies outgrow them by the age of three.
Symptoms of a cow’s milk allergy may include hives, rashes, facial swelling, throat and tongue swelling and a runny or stuffy nose. In some cases, a cow’s milk allergy may trigger anaphylaxis, a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction.mAgain, it’s worth remembering that a cow’s milk allergy is rare in adults, but it can have severe consequences.
Moreover, an allergy to whey protein should not be confused with lactose intolerance. Most allergies occur when the body produces an immune response to a protein. However, an intolerance is caused by an enzyme deficiency and does not involve the immune system. If you have a cow’s milk protein allergy, try a non-dairy protein powder, such as soy, pea, egg, rice or hemp protein. If you are unsure whether your symptoms are due to an allergy or intolerance, it’s best to check with your doctor.
Can It Cause Constipation and Nutritional Deficiencies?
Constipation is not a normal side effect of whey protein. For a few people, a lactose intolerance may cause constipation by slowing the movement of the gut. However, constipation is more likely caused when people eat fewer fruits and vegetables in favor of whey protein, especially when they’re on a low-carb diet.
Fruits and vegetables are a great source of fiber, which helps form stool and promotes regular bowel movements. If you suspect that whey protein makes you constipated, check whether you are eating enough fruits and vegetables. You can also try taking a soluble fiber supplement. Another reason why replacing whole foods with whey protein is a bad idea is because it may increase your risk of nutrient deficiencies.
Whole foods, especially fruits and vegetables, are nutrient-rich and contain a variety of minerals necessary for optimal health. Therefore, it’s important to keep eating a balanced diet while you’re taking whey protein.
Can Whey Protein Damage Your Kidneys?
Eating a high-protein meal can raise the pressure inside the kidneys and cause them to filter more blood than usual. However, this fact does not mean that a high-protein meal harms the kidneys. In fact, studies show that this is a normal bodily response and not usually a cause for concern . Moreover, there is no evidence that too much protein can damage the kidneys of healthy people.
For example, a detailed review of 74 studies on protein’s effects on the kidneys concluded that there is no reason to restrict protein intake in healthy people.That said, there is evidence that a high-protein diet can be harmful for people with kidney disease. Studies show that a high-protein diet in those with kidney disease may further damage the kidneys. If you have an existing kidney condition, then it’s best to check with your doctor about whether whey protein is fine for you.
Can It Damage Your Liver
No evidence shows that too much protein can damage the liver in healthy people. In fact, the liver needs protein to repair itself and convert fats to lipoproteins, which are molecules that help remove fats from the liver. In a study of 11 obese women, taking 60 grams of a whey protein supplement helped reduce liver fat by approximately 21% over four weeks.
Moreover, it helped reduce blood triglycerides by approximately 15% and cholesterol by about 7%. Surprisingly, there is only a single case of liver damage from whey protein in a healthy 27-year-old male. However, he was also taking a variety of other supplements. Doctors were also unsure if he was taking anabolic steroids, which can damage the liver.
Considering that thousands of people take whey protein without liver problems, this single case provides insufficient evidence that whey protein can damage the liver. Although, a high protein intake may harm people who have cirrhosis, a chronic liver disease.
The liver helps detoxify harmful substances in the blood like ammonia, which is a by-product of protein metabolism. In cirrhosis, the liver cannot function properly. So a high protein intake may increase ammonia levels in the blood, which may damage the brain. If you have liver disease, check with your doctor before taking whey protein.
How Much Should You Take?
Whey protein is generally safe and can be consumed by many people without side effects. A commonly suggested dose is 1–2 scoops (25–50 grams) per day, but it’s recommended that you follow the serving instructions on the package.
Taking more than this is unlikely to offer more benefits, especially if you already eat enough protein.If you experience uncomfortable symptoms like bloating, gas, cramps or diarrhea after taking whey protein, try switching to a whey protein isolate powder. Alternatively, try a non-dairy protein powder, such as soy, pea, egg, rice or hemp protein.
Nuts are extremely healthy and make a perfect snack when you’re on the go. They are packed with healthy fats, fiber and protein, and they’re a great source of many important nutrients and antioxidants.
What’s more, studies have shown that eating nuts has several health benefits, including lowering cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar. However, some people wonder whether roasting nuts affects their nutritional content. This article compares raw and roasted nuts and takes a detailed look at which variety is healthier.
Why Are Nuts Roasted?
Nuts are generally roasted to improve their taste, aroma and crunchy texture. Roasting is defined as cooking using dry heat, which cooks the food evenly on all sides. Most nuts are roasted without their shell, except for pistachios, which are often roasted in-shell.
Meanwhile, raw nuts have not been roasted. Roasting methods are sometimes used to separate the shells of nuts from their kernels. This is a common method of shelling cashews and the reason why they’re almost never sold raw.
There are two main kinds of roasting:
- Dry roasting:Roasting without any oil. Nuts can be dry roasted in the oven or on a frying pan.
- Oil roasting:Roasting using oil. Nuts can also be oil roasted in the oven or on a frying pan.
In addition to these two methods, nuts can be roasted in the microwave. You can buy nuts roasted, or you can roast them yourself.
Both Have a Similar Nutrient Content
Roasting nuts changes their structure and chemical composition. Specifically, it changes their color and decreases their moisture content, giving rise to their crunchy texture.
Raw and dry-roasted nuts have very similar amounts of fat, carbs and protein. Although, roasted nuts have slightly more fat and calories per gram, but the difference is minimal. One ounce (28 grams) of raw almonds contains 161 calories and 14 grams of fat, whereas the same amount of dry-roasted almonds contains 167 calories and 15 grams of fat. Similarly, 1 ounce (28 grams) of raw pecans contains 193 calories and 20 grams of fat, but the same amount of dry-roasted pecans contains 199 calories and 21 grams of fat.
During roasting, nuts lose some moisture. Therefore, a roasted nut weighs less than a raw nut. That explains why the fat content per ounce is slightly higher in roasted nuts. Some studies have shown that roasting nuts does not change the overall fat content. However, the polyunsaturated fats in roasted nuts become more susceptible to oxidation, as the structure of the nut changes.
Meanwhile, the protein and carb contents of raw and roasted nuts are very similar. Nevertheless, roasted nuts can be slightly higher or lower in these macronutrients, depending on the type of nut. Contrary to what you might expect, oil-roasted nuts are only slightly higher in fat and calories than dry-roasted nuts. That’s because nuts are naturally high in fat and cannot absorb much more of it from added fat.
Roasting Might Damage the Healthy Fats in Nuts
Nuts are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These healthy fats have the ability to lower blood cholesterol and may protect against heart disease.
High Temperatures and Long Cooking Times Have the Greatest Impact
When polyunsaturated fats are exposed to heat, as is the case with roasting, they’re more likely to become damaged or oxidized. This can lead to the formation of harmful free radicals, which can damage your cells. Oxidized fat, or rancid fat, is responsible for the “off” taste and smell in some nuts. Luckily, you can reduce the formation of these free radicals by controlling the roasting process.
The key is to regulate the cooking temperature and time. Studies have shown that when nuts are roasted at a low-to-medium temperature, their fats are less likely to go bad. One study showed that the higher the roasting temperature and the longer the roasting time, the more likely the nuts were to contain a substance that indicated oxidation. The likelihood of oxidation also depended on the nut type. For example, when walnuts were roasted under extreme conditions at 356°F (180°C) for 20 minutes, the substance that indicated oxidation increased by 17 times, compared to raw walnuts. In comparison, the substance that indicated oxidation only increased by 1.8 times for hazelnuts and 2.5 times for pistachios. This is explained by the high amount of polyunsaturated fat in walnuts. It accounts for 72% of their total fat content, which is the highest fat content of all nuts. In the same study, when walnuts were roasted at a medium temperature (248–320°F or 120–160°C), the extent of oxidation was much lower.
Oxidation Can Occur During Storage
The polyunsaturated fat in nuts is also more vulnerable to oxidation during storage. This is because the structure of nuts changes when they’re roasted, allowing fat to come into contact with oxygen more easily and thus become oxidized. This reduces the shelf life of nuts. Thus, roasted nuts should be stored for shorter periods than raw nuts. Furthermore, some studies indicate that trans fats are formed after roasting, but the amount is negligible.
Some Nutrients Are Lost During Roasting
Nuts are a great source of nutrients, including vitamin E, magnesium and phosphorus. They’re also loaded with antioxidants. Some of these nutrients are sensitive to heat and might be lost during the roasting process. For example, some types of antioxidants are degraded during roasting. Antioxidants are important for your health because they help protect your cells against damage from free radicals.
Nevertheless, increased temperature and roasting time have been shown to decrease antioxidant activity, but only up to a certain point. In one study, the levels of antioxidants in various nuts decreased constantly from the start of roasting at 302°F (150°C) until 30 minutes later. Interestingly, the antioxidant activity increased after 60 minutes. This is because compounds that have antioxidant activity are formed in a chemical reaction when nuts are roasted. Furthermore, not all antioxidants are damaged by roasting. One study reported that the amounts of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin in pistachios and hazelnuts were not affected by roasting.
Raw Nuts Might Contain Harmful Bacteria
Potentially harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella and E. coli, might be present in raw nuts. That’s because nuts are sometimes thrown on or fall to the ground during harvesting. If the soil is contaminated with bacteria, the nuts will easily come into contact with the bacteria.
Contaminated water might also introduce harmful bacteria, either during harvest or post-harvesting. In fact, Salmonella has been detected in raw nuts, including almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts and pistachios. One study reported that nearly 1% of samples of various nuts contained Salmonella, with the highest contamination rate in macadamia nuts and lowest in hazelnuts. It was not detected in pecans.
However, the amount of Salmonella detected was low, so it might not cause illness in healthy individuals. Though outbreaks due to contaminated nuts are uncommon, they’re very serious. In the US, consuming raw almonds has been linked to a Salmonella outbreak, while consuming in-shell hazelnuts has been associated with an outbreak of E. Coli. In order to reduce Salmonella, all almonds in the US today are required to be pasteurized. While roasting nuts reduces the number of bacteria on them, Salmonella was detected in one sample of roasted pistachios in one study. Another study found no Salmonella or E. coli in roasted nuts.
Which Type Should You Eat
The short answer is both.
Raw nuts are very healthy, but they might contain harmful bacteria. However, even if they do, it is unlikely to cause an illness. Roasted nuts, on the other hand, may contain fewer antioxidants and vitamins. Some of their healthy fats may also become damaged and acrylamide might form, though not in harmful amounts. In the end, roasting temperature and duration can have a big impact.
If nuts are roasted at a low-to-medium temperature of about 284°F (140°C) for approximately 15 minutes, vitamin loss is kept to a minimum, healthy fats are unharmed and acrylamide is less likely to form. If you want to eat roasted nuts, keep in mind that some roasted nuts sold in stores are seasoned with salt, and some are even sugar-coated.
Instead of buying nuts roasted, buy them raw and roast them yourself, preferably in the oven. That way you can better control the temperature and roast larger quantities of nuts at a time.
Ulcers are sores that can develop in different parts of the body. Gastric ulcers, or stomach ulcers, develop in the lining of the stomach. They are very common, affecting between 2.4–6.1% of the population. Various factors that disrupt the balance your stomach’s environment can cause them. The most common is an infection caused by the Helicobacter pylori bacteria.
Other common causes include stress, smoking, excess alcohol consumption and the overuse of anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Conventional anti-ulcer treatment typically relies on medications that can cause negative side effects like headaches and diarrhea.
For this reason, interest in alternative remedies has steadily risen and been fueled by both medical professionals and individuals with ulcers alike. This article lists 9 scientifically backed natural ulcer remedies.
1. Cabbage Juice
Cabbage is a popular natural ulcer remedy. Doctors reportedly used it decades before antibiotics were available to help heal stomach ulcers. It’s rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant shown to help prevent and treat H. pylori infections. These infections are the most common cause of stomach ulcers. In fact, several animal studies show that cabbage juice is effective at treating and preventing a wide range of digestive ulcers, including those affecting the stomach.
In humans, early studies observed that daily consumption of fresh cabbage juice appeared to help heal stomach ulcers more effectively than the conventional treatment used at the time. In one study, 13 participants suffering from stomach and upper digestive tract ulcers were given around one quart (946 ml) of fresh cabbage juice throughout the day.
On average, these participants’ ulcers healed after 7–10 days of treatment. This is 3.5 to 6 times faster than the average healing time reported in previous studies in those who followed a conventional treatment.
Licorice is a spice native to Asia and the Mediterranean region. It comes from the dried root of the Glycyrrhiza glabra plant and is a popular traditional herbal medicine used to treat many conditions.
Some studies report that licorice root may have ulcer-preventing and ulcer-fighting properties. For instance, licorice may stimulate the stomach and intestines to produce more mucus, which helps protect the stomach lining. The extra mucus may also help speed up the healing process and help reduce ulcer-related pain.
Honey is an antioxidant-rich food linked to a variety of health benefits. These include improved eye health and a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke and even certain types of cancer. Honey also appears to prevent the formation and promote the healing of many wounds, including ulcers.
Moreover, scientists believe that honey’s antibacterial properties can help fight H. pylori, one of the most common causes of stomach ulcers.
Several animal studies provide support for honey’s ability to reduce the risk of developing ulcers, as well as healing time. However, human studies are needed.
Garlic is another food with antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. Animal studies observe that garlic extracts may speed up recovery from ulcers and even reduce the likelihood of them developing in the first place.
What’s more, lab, animal and human studies all report that garlic extracts may help prevent H. pylorigrowth — one of the most common causes of ulcers. In a recent study, eating two cloves of raw garlic per day for three days helped significantly reduce bacterial activity in the stomach lining of patients suffering from H. Pylori infection.
However, not all studies were able to reproduce these results and more are needed before strong conclusions can be made.
Turmeric is a South Asian spice used in many Indian dishes. It’s easily recognizable by its rich yellow color. Curcumin, turmeric’s active ingredient, has been attributed to medicinal properties. These range from improved blood vessel function to reduced inflammation and heart disease risk. What’s more, curcumin’s anti-ulcer potential has recently been studied in animals.
It appears to have immense therapeutic potential, especially in preventing damage caused by H. pyloriinfections. It may also help increase mucus secretion, effectively protecting the stomach’s lining against irritants. Limited studies have been done in humans. One study gave 25 participants 600 mg of turmeric five times per day. Four weeks later, ulcers had healed in 48% of participants. After twelve weeks, 76% of participants were ulcer-free.
In another, individuals who tested positive for H. pylori were given 500 mg of turmeric four times per day. After four weeks of treatment, 63% of participants were ulcer-free. After eight weeks, this amount increased to 87% . That said, neither of these studies used a placebo treatment, which makes it difficult to know whether the turmeric is what caused the participants’ ulcers to heal. Thus, more research is needed.
Mastic is a resin obtained from the Pistacia lentiscus tree, more commonly known as the mastic tree. Other common names for mastic include Arabic gum, Yemen gum and tears of Chios.
The mastic tree generally grows in the Mediterranean region, and its sap can be dried into pieces of brittle translucent resin. When chewed, this resin softens into a white opaque gum with a pine-like flavor. Mastic has long been used in ancient medicine to treat various gut disorders, including stomach ulcers and Crohn’s disease.
More recently, animal studies report that it may act as a potent natural ulcer remedy. Additionally, research in 38 participants suffering from ulcers reports that daily consumption of 1 gram of mastic led to a 30% greater reduction in ulcer-related symptoms than the placebo. By the end of the two-week study period, ulcers were healed in 70% of the participants in the mastic group versus only 22% of those in the placebo group .
Mastic appears to have antibacterial activity against H. pylori as well. In one recent study, intake of 350 mg of mastic gum three times a day for 14 days eradicated H. pyloriinfections 7–15% more effectively than the conventional treatment.
7. Chili Peppers
There’s a popular notion among people suffering from ulcers that eating chili peppers too often or in large quantities may cause stomach ulcers. In fact, people suffering from ulcers are often advised to limit their consumption of chili peppers or to avoid them completely.
However, recent research shows that these peppers are unlikely to cause ulcers and may actually help get rid of them. That’s because chili peppers contain capsaicin, an active ingredient that appears to reduce stomach acid production and enhance blood flow to the stomach lining. Both of these factors are thought to help prevent or heal ulcers.
The capsaicin found in chili peppers may also help increase mucus production, which can coat the stomach lining and protect it from injury. Most, although not all, animal studies show beneficial effects. However, few human studies could be found.
Also, note that the animal studies above used capsaicin supplements rather than whole chili peppers. In at least one study, such supplements led to more intense gastric pain in certain individuals. Therefore, it may be best to stick to the whole food and adjust your intake based on your personal tolerance.
8. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is a plant widely used in the cosmetic, pharmaceutical and food industries. It is widely known for its antibacterial and skin-healing properties. Interestingly, aloe vera may also be an effective remedy against stomach ulcers.
In one study, aloe vera consumption significantly reduced the amount of stomach acid produced in rats suffering from ulcers . In another study in rats, aloe vera had ulcer-healing effects comparable to omeprazole, a common anti-ulcer medication.
However, few studies have been done in humans. In one, a concentrated aloe vera drink was used to successfully treat 12 patients with stomach ulcers. In another study, taking antibiotics with 1.4 mg/pound (3 mg/kg) of aloe vera daily for six weeks was as effective as the conventional treatment at healing ulcers and reducing H. pylori levels.
Aloe vera intake is considered generally safe and the above studies show some promising results. However, more studies in humans are needed.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that offer an array of health effects. Their benefits range from improving the health of your mind to the health of your gut, including its ability to prevent and fight ulcers. Although the way this works is still being investigated, probiotics seem to stimulate the production of mucus, which protects the stomach lining by coating it.
They may also promote the formation of new blood vessels, which eases transport of healing compounds to the site of the ulcer and speeds up the healing process. Interestingly, probiotics may play a direct role in preventing H. pylori infections. Moreover, these beneficial bacteria appear to enhance conventional treatment efficiency by around 150%, all while reducing diarrhea and other antibiotic-related side effects by up to 47%.