Roberta Lee, M.D., author of the book The SuperStress Solution, stopped by to share with us a piece she wrote.
By Roberta Lee M.D.,
Author of The SuperStress Solution
If you love chocolate, you're not alone. It turns out that the average person in the United States consumes approximately 12 pounds of chocolate a year. That might sound like a lot of chocolate, but I actually recommend that my patients -- especially those who are chronically stressed or what I would describe as SuperStressed -- indulge in 1 ounce of high quality and high cocoa mass chocolate a day, and that actually adds up to well more than 12 pounds over the course of the year. Sure, chocolate is a calorie laden food (with most of the calories coming from the cocoa butter), but in my opinion, the benefits of this treat outweigh the caloric load as long as you keep the portions small. Here are the benefits:
- On a gram for gram basis, chocolate has a terrifically high concentration of antioxidants known as flavonoids. More than berries and spinach, even. Flavonoids have been shown to lower high blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes.
- Chocolate is rich in magnesium and potassium, two minerals that help promote the "relaxation response," as well as iron and zinc, which are minerals that many people don't often get enough of during the course of the day. Chocolate also contains a good amount of selenium, which enhances immune health.
- Chocolate contains several psychoactive compounds being studied and debated as responsible for the mood lift many of us experience when eating it. First, there's phenylethylamine (PEA), a natural trace amine that is a stimulant that is elevated in the brain when we are in love and is low when we are depressed. Secondly, there's theobromine, a compound that imparts energy and a sense of alertness. Finally, chocolate contains a small amount of a chemical known as N-arachidonoylethanolamine, a substance that keeps our endogenous happiness molecules -- or endorphins -- from breaking down. In other words, if we are happy, we just might stay happier longer with a little chocolate.
To reduce stress, and avoid SuperStress, try this today:
Simple as it sounds; focused breathing -- during which you think about your breath as you inhale and exhale -- is a very effective stress-management technique. A slow, full breath triggers physical and cognitive changes that promote relaxation. Deep breathing helps release tension and anxiety and is a great energizer because the deeper the breath, the more your body is flooded with life-fueling oxygen. A full breath begins with the diaphragm pushing downward so that the stomach extends out. As your lungs fill with air, your chest expands. When you exhale, the reverse occurs -- your chest settles first and then your stomach.
- When anxiety strikes or you find yourself focusing on negative thoughts, immediately exhale through your mouth.
- Now, open your lungs, and breathe in through your nose, drawing in a fresh, cleansing air to the count of four.
- Exhale again slowly to the count of five.
- Repeat four times.
About the book:
We live on little sleep and exercise but a lot of work. We eat junk and processed foods on the run and fuel up with caffeine and sugar. We are chronically overcommitted, subjected to a 24/7 news cycle, and can’t take our eyes off our computers and PDAs. Is it any wonder that anxious is the new normal?
Our bodies are hardwired to cope with stress, but we are biologically ill-equipped to handle the kind that we endure today.
The human brain, in all its majesty, can’t distinguish true physical emergencies from daily hassles, deadlines, information overload, difficult decisions, guilt, and worries. The physiological reaction is the same: a chronic hormonal surge born of our instinctive fight-or-flight response. The result is a cluster of dangerous symptoms: immune deficiencies, high blood pressure, weight gain, insomnia, and a wide range of other ailments. This is what world-renowned integrative physician Dr. Roberta Lee has defined as the SuperStress syndrome, which is caused by our overstimulated, undernourished lifestyle.
In this empowering, life-changing book, Dr. Lee presents the solution to SuperStress. She shows how you can build stress resistance and resilience into your life with a unique prescription for recognizing, rebalancing, and protecting against stresses small and large. Starting with a comprehensive, informative questionnaire to determine your stress level and stress personality type, The SuperStress Solution then guides you through a 4-week healing program to reset your rattled nervous system to a default state of rest rather than high alert. Discover how to
- Nourish your body with nutrient-rich foods, herbs, and supplements that repair stress damage
- Detox your system and jump-start your body’s healing with an easy-to-follow eating plan
- Sleep well again by following simple steps to protect and promote the rest your body needs
- Move to simple, low-impact exercises that can be done in five-minute to one-hour increments
- Retrain your mind so you can access a sense of peace and calm even in your most stressed-out moments
The SuperStress Solution will do more than help you beat back the overload that is making you sick; it will restore physical harmony and balance. More than a program that makes you feel better, it is a program that will make you truly well.
Roberta Lee, M.D. is Vice Chair of the Department of Integrative Medicine , Director of Continuing Medical Education, and Co-Director of the Fellowship in Integrative Medicine at Beth Israel’s Continuum Center for Health and Healing (CCHH) at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City.
Dr. Lee attended George Washington University Medical School. Following the completion of her residency in Internal Medicine, she served as a U.S. Public Health Service physician in Micronesia for five years. For the past ten years, she has traveled back to Micronesia as the ethno-medical specialist in an interdisciplinary team of biologists, ethno-botanists, ecologists, and conservationists studying a cross-section of cultural and botanical influences on health, healing, and the promotion of wellness in chronic disease.
Dr. Lee is one of the four graduates in the first class from the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona conducted by Andrew Weil, M.D.