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Does Whey Protein Cause Inflammation?

by
author image Diane Marks
Diane Marks started her writing career in 2010 and has been in health care administration for more than 30 years. She holds a registered nurse license from Citizens General Hospital School of Nursing, a Bachelor of Arts in health care education from California University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Science in health administration from the University of Pittsburgh.
Does Whey Protein Cause Inflammation?
Whey protein in powder form. Photo Credit marekuliasz/iStock/Getty Images

Whey protein does not cause inflammation unless you are allergic to milk proteins. Whey protein is one of the most common food allergies that cause inflammation in various places throughout the body, according to Kids Health. Severe inflammation from ingesting whey protein can lead to serious medical complications, such as the inability to breathe and death. Talk with your doctor if you suspect that you may have an allergy to whey protein.

What is Whey Protein?

Whey protein is found in cow’s milk and is commonly used a dietary supplement to increase protein consumption. Milk contains whey and casein proteins, which can trigger allergic reactions in some people. If you’ve been diagnosed with a casein protein allergy, you should still avoid consuming whey protein, because it may contain traces of casein protein molecules. Whey protein may be used in protein beverages, protein powders and protein bars. Therefore, read the ingredients and allergy warning on the product’s package before consumption.

Why Does it Cause Inflammation?

Inflammation is the result of increased blood flow to certain areas of the body. During an allergic reaction to whey protein, the body releases immunoglobulin E antibodies to attack the protein, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Although, the protein is safe for consumption, the immune system malfunctions, attacking the protein as if it were an intruder. The antibodies communicate with white blood cells throughout the body, which, in turn, produce histamine -- a natural chemical in the body that protects against infections. Too much histamine released in soft tissues, however, can cause your blood vessels to dilate, resulting in increased blood flow, inflammation and irritation.

Respiratory and Digestive Systems

Inflammation that occurs in the respiratory system results in various common allergy symptoms. Sinus inflammation causes a stuffy nose, runny nose, sinus headaches, facial tenderness and facial pressure. If your airways become inflamed, you may develop asthma-like symptoms, including shortness of breath, chest pain, wheezing and coughing. Your digestive system can also develop inflammation, causing nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, cramping, abdominal pain and excessive gas.

Skin Inflammation

The skin may become inflamed in various areas of the body, leading to the development of hives, eczema and itching. Hives develop as clusters of welts that are red in color and very itchy. Eczema is a chronic skin condition that forms blisters that are filled with liquid, primarily on the face, back of the legs and arms. If you develop inflammation in your face, along with hives and shortness of breath, call 911 for emergency medical assistance.

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