As the theme of Men’s Health Week 2016 is stress, we look at lifestyle changes that can help to minimise the effects of stress and help to improve your mood.
We all get stressed. It’s a fact of modern life. Whether it’s due to pressure at work or school, financial issues, or something that is happening at home, it’s something we will all encounter at some point in our lives. But what impact can stress have on your overall health and wellbeing? The Men’s Health Forum advises that stress can:
- Damage your heart and immune system
- Increase your chance of serious health problems
- Reduce your life-expectancy
- Damage your sex life
With one in four of us experiencing mental health problems this year, it’s important that we recognise stress when it hits and deal with it before it becomes too much. Warning signs can include mood swings, trouble sleeping, loss of appetite and an increase in alcohol use.
In a survey conducted by the Health and Safety Executive, 9% of men describe themselves as severely or extremely stressed and 12% of men said the last time they took off work was due to ‘constantly feeling stressed or under pressure’. Add to this that suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 35 in the UK and it’s crucial that stress is taken seriously.
If you’re prone to stress, mental health charity Mind suggests four ways to deal with the pressure:
- Identify your triggers
- Organise your time
- Address some of the causes
- Accept the things you can’t change
In addition, changes to your diet can help your body and mind deal with and reduce the effects of stress. We suggest incorporating the following food types into your diet:
To normalise swings in blood sugar, and to help encourage a steady supply of the feel-good chemical hormone serotonin, swap sugary foods for complex carbohydrates which take longer to digest. Choices include whole-grain pasta, rice and bread, beans, starchy vegetables and porridge oats.
The vitamin C levels in citrus fruits (and berries too) are full of anti-oxidants, alleviating oxidative stress and can strengthen the immune system too, all helping to give a boost.
The Omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish such as tuna, mackerel and salmon can help reduce the surge in stress hormones that comes with mental stress and can help to protect against depression and heart disease too.
Potassium Rich Foods
Increasing dietary potassium has been shown to help lower blood pressure. Try stocking up on foods that are rich in potassium, such as beans, dark leafy greens, squash, avocados, mushrooms, and bananas.
Have some almonds available as a snack, they are packed with vitamin B2, vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc. B vitamins and magnesium are involved in the production of serotonin, which helps regulate mood and relieve stress.
It has been said that tea can help people to recover from stressful events more quickly – if nothing else a cuppa is a great excuse to take a break and have a chat with a colleague or friend!
Dietary changes are relatively easy to incorporate into your lifestyle but with 45% of the UK population suffering from food intolerances*, it’s a good idea to ensure any changes to your diet are compatible with your individual ‘food footprint’. YorkTest offer a range of food intolerance tests which help you to discover your trigger foods and our qualified Nutritionists provide support to help you substitute any sensitive foods without compromising on nutrition.
Our most popular product, the Food&DrinkScan Programme, tests against 158 food and drink ingredients and includes a consultation with one of our Nutritionists. Test are available on our website and we offer a range of delivery options. This simple finger-prick test can be done in the comfort of your own home and posted to our lab without the need to visit a post office.
*YorkTest define Food Intolerance as a food-specific IgG reaction