Whey protein powders can be pretty delicious. The creamy texture of a dairy-based product is hard to beat! But is whey good or bad for you? And are flavor and texture worth the risks? Here are 5 reasons why we believe it’s in your best interest to stay away from whey.
1. Cows Injected With Antibiotics
Whey is made from the unwanted scraps of milk and cheese, which comes from dairy cows. Majority of dairy cows in the US are injected with antibiotics which kill bacteria (both good and bad) in the cow’s milk and wreaks havoc on their immune system. Although we’re unsure if whey protein coming from these cows still contains antibiotics in residual amounts, it’s unnecessary risk to take.
2. Cows Fed GMO Corn
Those same cows are often fed genetically modified corn. These genetically modified crops are highly resistant to strong pesticides. Companies that create dairy products sourced from these cows aren’t required to label them as GMO, and can actually label them as GMO-free - which we think is cray.
3. Artificial Growth Hormones
Dairy cows in the US are also often injected with the artificial growth hormones rBST and rBGH so they produce milk faster (can a cow catch a break!?). These artificial growth hormones were first developed by Monsanto and are now banned in the European Union, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Japan and Argentina due to food safety and animal health concerns.
4. Effect On Cancer Growth
Whey contains Insulin Growth Factor (IGF-1). Although IGF-1 also exists in the human body, high amounts are known to stimulate the growth of both normal and cancerous cells. For example, a January 1998 report by Harvard researchers showed that men with an IGF-1 level between approximately 300 and 500 ng/mL were found to have more than four times the risk of developing prostate cancer than men with a level between 100 and 185 ng/mL
5. Increased Risk of Osteoporosis
A lot of us are were told as children to have lots of dairy in our diet to increase our calcium intake and protect against diseases like osteoporosis. The catch is - instead of strengthening our bones - animal protein like dairy actually leaches calcium from them and expels it in our urine. The highest rates of osteoporosis are in places like Northern Europe and North America where animal protein intake is exceptionally high. A study comparing bone loss in the lumbar spine in perimenopausal (the period of life shortly before the occurrence of the menopause) women showed that in the control group who supplemented the diet with whey protein, significant bone loss occurred. Researchers concluded the regular consumption of milk proteins such as whey could increase the lifetime risk of osteoporosis [Am. J Clin. Nutr . 2000; 72:844-52]. Good news though - plant proteins don’t appear to have this effect!
Not all whey proteins on the market are derived from cows subject to points 1 to 3, but it’s not always easy to tell which ones, and there are plenty of protein sources that don’t come from whey. Need to up your protein intake but don’t know what to take? You have options! Ora's organic vegan protein actually tastes good and is way better than whey: Organic Superfood Protein.