Monday, January 18, 2010

Guest Post: Roberta Lee, M.D. author of The SuperStress Solution

Roberta Lee, M.D., author of the book The SuperStress Solution, stopped by to share with us a piece she wrote.

Reduce SuperStress with Super Foods
By Roberta Lee M.D.,
Author of The SuperStress Solution

The holidays are fast approaching, and with them the promise of festivities, feasts . . . and fat! But our ballooning girth will do more than stress our belt buckles. Most of us will feel the literal stress of over-eating and also suffer more from the guilt of gluttony than we would care to admit. It doesn't have to be this way. In addition to trying to keep up with your exercise routine, getting enough sleep, and having a snack before you head to a party (you won't overeat if you're already a little full!), try to avoid junk food/fast food, sugar-laden foods, too much caffeine and alcohol, and excessive amounts of high fat red meat. These foods and beverages tax your system and will actually make you feel more stressed, more lethargic, and less able to cope with the stresses of daily life causing SuperStress.

But holidays and parties shouldn't be about deprivation! Consider this: there are actually a handful of foods that can help reduce stress (and help you stay trim, too). Aim to keep these five easy to find and delicious foods in your diet through the holiday season, and beyond:

Dark chocolate. Chocolate has a lot going for it in addition to its divine taste. It is plump full of flavanoids -- a powerful class of antioxidants -- which have been shown to lower high blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes. Other compounds found in chocolate seem to lower the "bad" component of cholesterol (LDL) while leaving the "good" (HDL) component unchanged. Dark chocolate also contains several psychoactive chemicals that promote alertness and even euphoria. The latest scientific literature even shows it has some blood pressure lowering properties.

To me, though, that's not what's so beautiful about chocolate. What I think is beautiful about chocolate is its ability to enhance sensory recruitment in every way. It's so inexpensive to have a piece of chocolate and it's so pleasurable, that if that's something you like and that's part of what living well is about, I say: go for it. Once a day, treat yourself to a guilt-free⅓ of a typical dark chocolate bar or 1 ounce of chocolate roughly the size of the palm of a woman's hand. Doctor's orders!

Tea. Although caffeine has been shown to lead to a more positive mood and improved performance, there's a fine line between just enough and too much. Too much caffeine can make you dependent and make you nervous, irritable, and hypersensitive or bring on headaches. Because brewed tea is lower in caffeine per cup than coffee, you can drink more tea than coffee before experiencing these effects. Tea also provides a little L-theanine, a calming amino acid.

Magnesium rich foods. Magnesium is an essential mineral for human nutrition. Magnesium in the body serves several important metabolic functions. It plays a role in the production and transport of energy. It is also important for the contraction and relaxation of muscles and has been shown to reduce blood pressure. Green vegetables such as spinach are good sources of magnesium, as are black beans, peas, nuts (peanuts), seeds (pumpkin and squash), tofu, broccoli and whole, unrefined grains.

Berries. Under stress we naturally crave sweet things but the problem is that nine out of ten times, the sweets we're craving are calorie laden. Berries are naturally sweet and they have vitamin C which tends to be helpful in combating stress. Furthermore, berries have some fiber -- which will decrease cravings by building up bulk in your GI track.

Avocados. When you're under stress, your body tends to use B vitamins at a faster than normal rate. In order to replenish that supply, eat ¼ of an avocado when you're stressed -- on a sandwich, in a salad, or all by itself -- to boost B vitamin levels. In addition to B, avocados are also rich in vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium and a fatty acid known as oleic acid -- this fat has been shown to have a mild influence in lowering cholesterol.

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.
Copyright © 2009 Roberta Lee M.D., author of The SuperStress Solution

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.

About Roberta:

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.


Dar said...

Hi Beth, I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

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