July 8, 2014 — There is some exciting new research on the health benefits of whey. Whey is, in fact, one of America’s top export products, according to Alan Levitt of the U.S. Dairy Export Council.
“We shipped more than a billion dollars’ worth of whey products overseas last year,” he said. “So we see that consumer interest in protein – both in the United States and overseas – has never been higher, particularly from the diet and fitness community.”
He says one of the behind-the-scenes projects USDEC is involved with is getting whey into the diets of vulnerable populations – such as people suffering from HIV or chronic malnutrition in developing countries.
The British Journal of Medicine recently published the results of a four-year study that found people living with HIV who are starting anti-retro-viral therapy have a better prognosis when they take food supplements that contain whey.
The study was conducted by independent third-party researchers in Ethiopia using WPC 80 from the United States. But the U.S. dairy industry funded the study through USDEC and the Dairy Research Institute.
USAID, which is the lead government agency that provides foreign aid to poor countries, just announced a new strategy with an increased emphasis on nutrition for the food it distributes. This new strategy means they’ll want to use more dairy ingredients in the products they buy and distribute for food aid.
USDEC is also encouraged that the new strategy recognizes the importance of improving nutrition in the 1,000 days from pregnancy to a child’s second birthday.
“We know this is a critical time for cognitive and physical development and dairy can play an important role in preventing malnutrition,” Levitt reported. “This, too, has been a long-time USDEC priority, and we’ve done a lot of work over the last few years, working with scientists and government officials to help make this happen.”
Besides the altruistic goal of helping feed sick and hungry people, Levitt says there is also a commercial benefit to these programs.
“Of course it’s great to feed the sick and hungry, but we think that ultimately better child nutrition results in healthier, more active members of society,” he said.
And that leads to economic growth and increased dairy demand in developing countries, which are important customers for U.S. dairy products.