You take great care to eat a healthy diet. But do you take the same care
to handle your stress from a bad day? If you don't, that green juice
you had today might as well be a burger with fries.
A recent study in the journal
Molecular Psychiatry suggests that stress has an effect on how your body processes the food
you eat. "Stress takes a toll on the body--it raises blood sugar
levels and lowers the body's resistance to inflammation, which can
lead to increased risk of heart problems, diabetes, arthritis and other
Victoria Leigh, DO, a board-certified internal medicine physician at
St. Joseph Heritage Medical Group. Researchers aren't sure exactly why, but apparently that stress response
is so powerful that a healthy diet can't override it.
In the study, women who ate a breakfast with heart-healthy monounsaturated
fats and didn't experience any stress the day before had good blood
test results, compared to women who ate a similar breakfast made up of
saturated fats. But factor in stress, and the women who ate the heart-healthy
breakfast didn't see that positive correlation in their blood work--the
benefits of the heart-healthy food disappeared, researchers said.
"If you're not managing stress in your life, you are missing a
key component of overall health and wellness," Dr. Leigh says. "It
should be on par with diet and exercise when it comes to taking care of
Dr. Leigh adds that there are some simple ways to make stress management
part of your everyday routine.
Develop a coping mechanism. Hobbies, breathing techniques and exercises
that emphasize relaxation can all help when you find yourself in a stressful
situation. For more on these ideas, click
Take advantage of the tools that are out there. We tend to be a stressed-out
society as a whole, and in response, several products have been introduced
to the marketplace to
help people chill out. It can be as old school as a coloring book for adults or as cutting-edge
as a meditation app.
Curb work stress as much as possible. If your job is a source of constant
aggravation, it can lead to chronic stress. Are there ways to do the job
better, or is it time to look for something else? Take the time to assess
how healthy your job is and how you can better cope with its stress. For
more workplace-related stress tips, click
Take care of yourself. Taking time to meet your own needs may be considered
pampering, but look at it instead as a bit of necessary self-care.
These helpful Mother's Day ideas can be incorporated year-round.