Almost half (44%) of us suffer with stress at some point in our lives, and while it is often an inevitable part of modern living, feeling stressed for extended periods of time can set off a host of physical and emotional health problems.
"Common symptoms of stress can have a major impact on your wellbeing and can lead to unhealthy behaviours like lying awake at night, eating too much or eating unhealthy foods," says Matthew Kuchan, PhD, a senior principal research scientist with Abbott. However, by recognising the signs and addressing them through sleep, exercise and good quality nutrition, you can help tackle the negative effects of stress."
Eating a diet rich in healthy foods like dark leafy vegetables and lean proteins can build a solid foundation for your body and also help to reduce inflammation and oxidation. Compounds found in these foods in addition to an overall healthy diet are great for combating the side effects that stress has on our bodies.
Here, Matthew provides his top five stress-busting tips to keep you fighting fit:
Check your diet
Inflammation is the body's response to injury or stress, however too much for too long leads to oxidative stress, which can damage your organs. Look out for food packed with anti-inflammatory compounds like salmon and tuna or polyphenols and carotenoids such as dark chocolate and green leafy vegetables.
Hit the gym
Finding time to work out when stressed can be difficult; however it is more important than ever to exercise when feeling tense. Getting physical releases endorphins allowing your body to relax and reduces adrenaline and cortisol levels, which can help decrease mental stress.
Get those zzzs
According to a study in The American Journal of Human Biology, inadequate sleep actually alters the secretion of hunger-promoting hormones, making us feel hungrier and more likely to overeat. Just another reason to aim for seven to eight hours a night!
Ditch the coffee
Getting the post-caffeine jitters? Research has found that caffeine can actually exacerbate feelings of stress so opt for a glass of water or decaffeinated green tea instead to keep you hydrated.
Keep at it
Finally, don't be discouraged when you are stressed. Enjoy eating healthily when you can, but remember that life may well get in the way sometimes and new habits take time to form.