Free radicals are the main culprit behind stress, and only antioxidants are effective
to defeat them, not drugs.
Several studies have found that when you're under stress, your body needs more antioxidants:
• Researchers in France studied the lifestyles of a wide range of men and women. They were looking to see which behaviors affected their ability to fight off free radicals. Not surprisingly, behaviors such as smoking and drinking lowered their bodies’ antioxidant ability. But the researchers found that psychological stress had the same effect.
• Scientists at Tokyo Medical and Dental University got similar results when they tested three groups of workers at a drug company. When the men were subjected to stress – making a speech in front of company executives – their bodies produced higher levels of a certain free radical.
• Perhaps more importantly, the French researchers also linked lower antioxidant capacity to a higher risk of cancer and heart problems. So building up your antioxidants when you’re stressed is particularly important.
A natural multivitamin and mineral supplement is a good place to start. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that those who took a multivitamin daily had 5.1 percent longer telomeres than non-users.
Specifically, the study pointed to vitamins B12, C, and E for maintaining telomere length:
2) Vitamin B12:
You need to take at least 100 mcg per day. Although, it is advisable to take as much as 500 mcg per day or more for improving things like brain function and energy levels.
3) Vitamin C:
Taking up to 3,000 mg per day is a good amount if you're currently in good health. Pregnant women get at least 6,000 mg per day. And in times of stress or sickness, you can take up to 20,000 mg.
You also want to make sure that you get the natural form of vitamin C and not the synthetic form. In one particular study, natural vitamin C was 148% more effective than the synthetic form. And it stayed in the test participants’ systems longer.
4) Vitamin E:
There are actually eight forms of vitamin E, divided up into two groups: four tocopherols and four tocotrienols. Almost all multivitamins use tocopherols, but make sure they use “mixed” tocopherols. That means they are using a combination of all four.
Some manufacturers try and skimp by using just one of the four tocopherols. It’s also important to watch out for the kinds of tocopherols that are in it. Your body is better able to absorb them in their organic “d” form.
Beware of Inferior Products
But many vitamin manufacturers use the inferior synthetic “dl” form. Studies actually show that natural vitamin E has twice the bioavailability of the synthetic form. That means your body is able to absorb more of the vitamin. So be sure to get the natural “d” form.
You need at least 200 to 400 IU of mixed tocopherols a day. Unlike vitamins B12 and C, . So be sure to take it with food.
Also get plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet, too. (Organic is best.) Nothing beats Nature’s own source of healthy nutrients.
Besides fighting off the effects of stress with antioxidants, you can also help your body adapt to stress. That’s where herbs come in.
Too much stress can shorten your telomeres
You know stress hurts. You worry, you feel anxious… you lose sleep. But now, through the discovery of telomeres, you can actually measure the effects of stress. And the wear and tear is more distressing than you even imagined.
Researchers at the University of California discovered that stress speeds up aging. This makes your cells die before their time – and produces all the terrible effects we think of as aging.
They compared women who felt a lot of stress to women under little stress. Using certain cellular markers, they discovered the high-stress women were up to 10 years “older” than women with low stress levels!
The cellular markers they used are “telomeres.” Telomeres are the “time keepers” attached to every strand of DNA. As they wind down, you get older and your body breaks down.
What’s more, the effects of stress on telomeres get worse with age. A North Carolina study found that stressed women over 55 had significantly shorter telomeres. Therefore, the older we get, the more important it is to control the stress in our lives.
It’s not just women. An Ohio State University study linked shorter telomeres to high-stress occupations such as long-term caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients. The Alzheimer’s caregivers showed a four to eight year shortening of life span.
That’s why it’s so important for you to get rid of stress. “Toughing it out” could be the biggest mistake you ever make. But stopping stress in its tracks can help you add 10 years or more to your life.
Adaptogens: Your Secret Weapon Against Stress
It's undeniable that natural alternatives are usually superior to drugs. Herbs and other natural supplements are usually more effective and more economical than prescription drugs. And they rarely have the dangerous side effects.
Best of all, these natural alternatives don’t just mask symptoms the way most drugs do. Instead, they strengthen your body’s own natural defenses. And that means you’re dealing directly with the problem, not just covering it up.
This is the situation with some herbs called “adaptogens.” These herbs help your body adjust to stress – including psychological stress.
And three of the best adaptogens are:
1) Panax Ginseng:
This powerful herb has widely been used throughout Asia since ancient times. Numerous studies suggest it provides effective protection against physical and psychological stresses. Make sure you choose one of the three forms of Panax ginseng, which can also be known as Korean, Chinese, or Asian ginseng. Try to stay away from Siberian ginseng. It’s a closely related plant, but it’s not a true ginseng. Take 1-2 grams per day.
2) Siberian ginseng (eleuthero):
3) Ginkgo biloba:
This amazing plant contains three powerful flavonoids that help in the fight against stress. Quercitin, kaempferol, and isorhamnetine. Studies have proven it’s a great stress reliever because it helps improve the ratio of cortisol to DHEA. For maximum benefit, you need 120-240 mg per day.
All three herbs are approved for use by Commission E, the German government’s official natural medicine committee. And with good reason, too. All three are effective in fighting stress.
• For example, an animal study in India compared the effects of Ginkgo biloba and panax ginseng. The study found that both herbs show powerful stress-fighting properties. And ginseng was particularly effective against chronic stress – the kind of relentless pressure that’s so common in our society.
• European researchers also found that Ginkgo normalized the levels of stress hormones in rats exposed to stressful situations. And according to a recent article in Current Clinical Pharmacology, Siberian ginseng lowers levels of cortisol – the main stress hormone.
What all this means to you is that you can get relief from stress, even if you can’t avoid it. Extracts of all three of these herbs are widely available.
You need to take 120 mg of Ginkgo biloba and 200 mg to 500 mg of Siberian ginseng and Panax ginseng daily if you are feeling stressed.
Finally, just a word of caution here… Although these herbs are generally safe, people with high blood pressure should avoid Siberian ginseng, and Siberian ginseng is not a true ginseng.
If you were living in a primitive environment, you wouldn’t have to worry too much about free radical damage from stress.
You’d already have a natural defense system already in place. In primitive cultures like in Peru, Brazil, and Africa, the native diet contains thousands of antioxidants to fight free radicals.
In our modernized world, antioxidants are still the best way to guard against disease.
Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that neutralize free radicals. Any time you increase your intake of antioxidants, you’re saving your healthy cells from damage.
To get you started, here is a list of the some of the best sources of antioxidants:
|Rank: Food item: Serving size: Total antioxidants per serving|
1. Small red beans (dried): Half cup- 13,727
2. Wild blueberries: 1 cup- 13,427
3. Red kidney beans (dried):Half cup- 13,259
4. Pinto beans: Half cup- 11,864
5. Blueberries (cultivated): 1 cup- 9,019
6. Cranberries: 1 cup (whole)- 8,983
7. Artichoke (cooked):1 cup (hearts)- 7,904
8. Blackberries: 1 cup- 7,701
9. Prunes: Half cup- 7,291
10. Raspberries: 1 cup- 6,058
11. Strawberries: 1 cup- 5,938
12. Red Delicious apple: One- 5,900
13. Granny Smith apple: One- 5,381
14. Pecans: 1 ounce- 5,095
15. Sweet cherries: 1 cup- 4,873
16. Black plum: One- 4,844
17. Russet potato (cooked): One- 4,649
18. Black beans (dried): Half cup- 4,181
19. Plum: One- 4,118
20. Gala apple: One- 3,903
Take a look at the variety of fruits on the list. If you add a bowl of:
• Blueberries, and
to your breakfast, you’ll take in thousands of antioxidants. If you eat just a half cup of red beans for lunch, you’ll get almost 14,000 antioxidants.
Spices, herbs, and teas also contain a surprising number. You will find the highest amounts in:
• Indian spices like turmeric also contain high levels of antioxidants:
Take a Deep Breathe
5) Breathe – It’s no secret that taking deep breaths throughout the day or whenever you’re feeling stress can do wonders for your health. Whenever you do, take deep breaths. It’ll lower your heart rate and blood pressure, and may even boost your mood. Here’s what you do:
- Breathe in deep for a count of 4.
- Hold your breath for another 7 seconds. Then slowly let it out for at least an 8-count.
- Repeat 5 times or until you feel calmer.
Recommended Herbal Remedy to Reduce Stress