Are you a hard working American? If so, you’re in good company. In fact, many of us overdo it on the work front, when one considers, by contrast, the healthy work/life balance exemplified by many European cultures, such as France, Italy and Spain.

Some people even view being “so stressed at work” as something of a merit badge. The problem is, wellness often suffers as a consequence. If you viewed our article on stress and premature aging, you learned that too much daily physical and/or mental stress can lead to numerous health problems, and even shorten your lifespan.

One aspect of daily life impaired by undue stress is cognition─your thinking ability. You can combat this naturally, however. Research suggests that increasing your dietary intake of the amino acid tryptophan may increase serotonin─a crucial neurotransmitter─thus improving cognitive performance.

The solution could be as simple as a daily whey protein shake. Several studies suggest that whey protein improves cognitive performance in subjects under stress by boosting both tryptophan and serotonin.(1) One research team found that consuming tryptophan-rich protein─such as whey─improved coping ability, probably through alterations in brain serotonin.(2)

Another study explored the link between stress-related mood deterioration and depression, pinpointing low brain serotonin as a primary cause. This is because serotonin is limited by the availability of its amino acid precursor tryptophan. The authors concluded that the situation can be corrected by increasing dietary tryptophan.(3)

This brings us back, yet again, to whey protein, one of the richest natural sources of tryptophan, in addition to every other crucial, essential amino acid you need to survive─and thrive. If you, like so many of us, are still struggling to find the ideal work/life balance, at least you know you have a powerfully effective ally along the whey.

1 Am J Clin Nutr. Vol. 75, No. 6, 1051-1056, June 2002
2 Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Jun;71(6):1536-44.
3 Neuromolecular Med. 2008;10(4):247-58. Epub 2008 May 31.