Do High Protein Diets Decrease Anxiety?

High protein diets have been shown to have a number of health benefits. One of these benefits may be an improvement in mental health. For example, in one study researchers fed a group of rats with either low (8 %), normal (20 %) and high (50 %) protein diets 20 weeks. The protein was in the form of casein from dairy. The results of the study showed that the high protein diet caused the rats to be more responsive in performance tests compared with low and normal protein diets. Also the rats on the high protein diet showed significantly less anxious behaviour when exposed to experimental stress. Therefore the high protein content of the diet may have altered brain function, and improved the mental performance of the rats. One explanation for this is that protein contains amino acids, particularly, L-tyrosine and L-tryptophan, that can be converted to neurotransmitters in the brain. High protein diets may therefore increase neurotransmitter synthesis and thereby increase mood and mental function. 

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Onaivi, E. S., Brock, J. W. and Prasad, C. 1992. Dietary protein levels alter rat behavior. Nutrition Research. 12(8): 1025-1039

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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