Diet & Nutrition

Is stress making you fat?

Apart from regular exercise and a balanced diet, stress can affect our waistlines more than we think. Here are seven ways that can help relax your mind.

Stress is an unavoidable part of life but reoccurring mental pressure has been proven to flow on and affect people physically in more ways than one.
Research shows that stress can lead to premature aging, spikes in blood pressure, interrupted sleeping cycles and is a leading cause of stubborn fat, particularly in the abdominal area.
Aussies facing long working hours and busy home lives are apparently losing the battle of the bulge with a recent study citing that 35.3 per cent of adult Australians are overweight and a further 27.5 per cent are obese.
And last year the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development echoed obesity concerns for Australia with its research ranking it as the forth fattest nation on Earth, only marginally behind the US, New Zealand and Mexico.
So as a nation we are facing an obesity epidemic but how can we manage our fast paced lives and stress that comes from it to get on the right track to good health?
1. Drink green tea
Green tea’s health benefits have been widely known and for centuries it has been consumed to help with stress. Physically it has shown that it can effectively mitigate the inflammation and oxidative stress caused by high levels of stress. But in order to be effective green tea must be consumed in high does so 3-5 cups should do the trick or one might consider a green tea concentrate supplement.
2. Consume lots of antioxidants
When you are stressed antioxidants will help your body produce glutathione which is an enzyme that provides a critical protection of cells from many forms of stress. Consuming antioxidant rich foods such as berries, dark green vegetables and spices and herbs at every meal will help keep your glutathione levels steady.
3. Meditate or develop a mindful practice
Giving your mind a chance to rest and recharge comes with an exponential amount of benefits. Meditation has been found to reduce an inflammatory marker called Il-6, which is a sign of high stress and anxiety.
Yoga, traditional martial arts and quiet meditation are all great skills to develop.
4. Take magnesium
Stress can be a cause of magnesium deficiency, and a lack of magnesium tends disrupt sleep which can magnify the stress reaction, worsening the problem.
Taking a magnesium supplement with your night time meal will help you body to find a deep sleep more easily therefore ensuring you are better rested when you wake.
You might also consider limiting the things that deplete you magnesium levels such as excess alcohol, salt and coffee.
5. Up your intake of Omega 3's
Stress hormones produced in the body are derived from dietary fat so having a highly stressful lifestyle and a low fat diet is a recipe for disaster as you are starving your body of the raw materials it needs to make stress hormones. This deprivation will then cause further stress.
If you ensure you include Omega 3 fatty acids as they can increase the body’s antioxidant capabilities and reduce inflammation. Other good fats include butter, coconut oil, nuts and avocado.
Omega 3 fish oil might specifically counteract the detrimental effects of mental stress on the heart
6. Consider nutraceuticals
Some nutraceuticals could help boost the body’s ability to deal with stress.
Phosphatidyl Serine is a great night time supplement that has been shown to help reduce the primary hormone of stress, cortisol.
Holy Basil is a daytime supplement that is considered an adaptogen. Basically it assists your body with producing more or less stress hormones depending on what you need.
Acetyl L Carnitine will help you get up and go in the morning and helps promote alertness and brain function.
7. Practice gratitude
While balancing a busy lifestyle it may help to remind ourselves about the things we can and can't control and also what is in our lives that we need to be grateful for.
Cultivating an appreciative nature by simply informally jotting it down in a diary might help you discern the things in your life that you should be concerned about and the things that you could let go of.
While none of these tips will eliminate stress altogether hopefully practicing a few of them will produce an overall sense of health and wellbeing that might even present itself in the shape of a slimmer and trimmer you this summer.

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