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Here’s a Quick Whey to Reduce Anxiety and Depression

Posted Dec 27 2009 11:35am

Today I want to share with you a diet tip that can help you reduce your anxiety and depression .  I’ve always believed that to successfully cope with anxiety you have to use plenty of different tools and I’d like to suggest that you put whey protein into your toolbox.

Now, if you can’t consume milk or milk derived products, whey protein will not be of much use to you, so to these people, I owe you one.  But for everyone else that can consume milk derived products, let me introduce you to whey protein.  This stuff is absolutely amazing, and yes I do drink it.  I don’t work on a farm and have no connections to the dairy industry, so no this isn’t a commercial plug.  It just works and I want to tell you how.

Whey protein can do lots of things, for example, it can help you to heal wounds faster, lower cortisol, manage your weight, prevents bone loss, control cholesterol, and researchers believe it may even prevent cancer!  OK, before I get carried away, let’s just focus on how it can reduce anxiety and depression.

What is Whey?

Whey is made from cow’s milk and is a by product of the cheese making process.  Whey is the watery stuff that is separated from the curd and is usually made into a powder mix.  Depending on the brand you buy, it may not be the best tasting thing in the world, but nowadays there are many brands of whey protein that come in vanilla, chocolate and other flavors that are reasonably tasty.

What’s in Whey?

Whey is jammed packed with amino acids and various vitamins.  There are however two main amino acids that I want to talk about:  Tryptophan and Glutamine.

1. Tryptophan - This is an essential amino acid (meaning it’s not made by the body) typically found in whey protein powders.  Tryptophan aids in the the production of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter many researchers believe is linked to anxiety and depression.

It’s thought that having low levels of serotonin in the brain can make you anxious, depressed, and alter your mood in general.  So increasing serotonin should, hypothetically at least, make you feel better.  Also, unlike Prozac and other drugs used to maintain serotonin levels in the brain, consuming amino acids like tryptophan actually helps to make more serotonin, and as far as I know whey protein (milk) doesn’t make you want to kill yourself like some SSRIs (anti-depressant meds) do, so it can’t hurt.

2. Glutamine -  Is a non-essential amino acid (meaning the body can produce it) that is known to reduce anxiety.  Glutamine is a precursor of GABA which “regulates neuronal excitability throughout the nervous system,” i.e., keeps you calm.

I really don’t want to start spewing science babble about amino acids, neurotransmitters, and all the rest of it.  Don’t get me wrong, this type of thing is useful to know, but my point is that WHEY IS GOOD.

I drink whey isolate because it’s about 90% protein, which means it has lots of those awesome amino acids I was talking about, but less fat and lactose than whey concentrate.

Preparation is also a snap.  Because it comes in powdered form you simply mix the whey protein with water or milk and simply stir, shake, or blend it.  You can also add fruit to the mix.

Here’s a Quick Protein Shake Recipe:

1 banana

1 scoop of whey protein

half cup of water or milk

1/2 cup low fat yogurt

1/2 cup of ice

Blend until smooth and tasty looking.

You can add any and all kind of fruit, but I like to use bananas because they contain tryptophan and boost energy without making you feel all wild eyed like coffee does.

Whey protein is not known to have any side effects if you tolerate milk well.  That said, some have posited that drinking too much whey protein can damage the kidneys and or liver if abused, so I’d air on the side of caution and keep consumption to under 48g per day.

Remember that you also get protein from food, like meats for example, so you don’t have to go crazy and start downing jugs of this stuff.  It is simply a supplement to the rest of your diet.

The bottom line is that amino acids are the building blocks of our bodies.  They help keep our nervous system healthy and promote the production of beneficial neurotransmitters that help regulate mood.

Protein is made from amino acids, and whey powder mix has lots of protein in it.  It’s natural and is a great addition to any anti-anxiety arsenal.

But please, do some research and look into it further for yourself.  I don’t want to over hype whey protein like some summer blockbuster film.  You know the one, were all your friends over sell the movie as the best thing ever, then when you go see it you feel robbed and empty because it sucked.

Whey protein is not a magic serum, but it certainly contains the basic building materials for a healthy brain.  I started using it because I work out a great deal and it helps me recover from intense workouts.  But I also noticed that after I drank it I felt relaxed and calm.

The worst that could happen is that you get some gas and a little bloated.  That’s not a huge price to pay for something that could potentially reduce your anxiety and depression.  Cheers!

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