If you’ve ever spent the holidays with family, you know it’s a time of high expectations, high stress and high emotions. If you think about it, pretty much everything about the holiday season is a stressor: Letting go of old traditions while simultaneously keeping new traditions, all within the confines of tight budgets and small apartments means that everyone is on edge. Luckily, with a few simple tweaks to your diet and lifestyle habits, you can reduce your stress levels and counteract the negative effects of the holiday season by reducing oxidative stress. This blog post will help you do just that — whether it’s for Thanksgiving or any other special occasion where friends, family or both are coming over for dinner.
What is oxidative stress?
We all create some oxidative stress in our bodies as part of the natural process of metabolism. However, too much oxidative stress can damage your cells and contribute to chronic disease, including cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. In fact, oxidative stress has been linked to all of the diseases of aging. Oxidative stress occurs when there is a disturbance in the balance between the production of reactive oxygen species and our ability to detoxify the harmful byproducts. The most common and dangerous reactive oxygen species are superoxide, hydrogen peroxide and hydroxyl radicals. There are some things you can do to reduce oxidative stress. For example, you can increase your intake of antioxidants and reduce your exposure to things that increase oxidative stress. Foods with high antioxidant levels include dark chocolate, red wine, blueberries, and green tea. Daily doses of the supplement NMN is another highly efficient way of reducing oxidative stress and visibly reducing signs of ageing.
Rule 1: Don’t skip breakfast.
This is the number one thing you can do to keep your stress levels low and your metabolism high. Studies have shown that people who don’t eat breakfast have higher levels of cortisol and are more likely to be stressed out. Exercising on an empty stomach has also been shown to increase cortisol levels. This is because your body thinks you’re in a state of starvation and starts to break down muscle tissue in order to create glucose. While cortisol is a good, short-term hormone, too much of it can lead to weight gain and a slower metabolism. In fact, the ability to manage cortisol is one of the most important factors in sustainable weight loss.
Rule 2: Don’t skimp on protein.
It’s true that high-protein diets have fallen out of fashion in recent years, but with good reason. Too much protein can lead to a buildup of uric acid, which can cause gout and kidney stones. In general, though, a lower protein diet has been linked with higher oxidative stress and lower antioxidant levels. This means that if you eat too little protein, you’ll be more stressed and less able to fight off free radical damage. Gout aside, a moderate protein intake is actually really important during stressful times like the holidays. This is because you also need protein to produce glutathione, a major antioxidant that helps protect your body from oxidative stress.
Rule 3: Stay hydrated.
This one is pretty straightforward: If you’re not consuming enough water, your stress levels are likely to be much higher than they should be. In fact, even mild dehydration has been shown to increase cortisol levels and make you more likely to experience a stressful event as more stressful. This is because your body senses dehydration and starts to release stress hormones to help you deal with the water deficit. Again, this short-term response is great, but too much cortisol in the long-term will lead to weight gain and a slower metabolism.
Rule 4: Try a meditation app.
There are a lot of reasons why you might want to consider adding meditation to your holiday stress reduction regimen. First of all, meditation has been shown to reduce levels of oxidative stress. This is because it also increases your body’s antioxidant capacity. You’re also likely to experience a reduction in anxiety if you add meditation to your daily routine, which is helpful during the stressful holiday season. You don’t need to sit cross-legged on a mat in a quiet room to meditate. There are lots of apps for your phone that make meditation simple and accessible for all types of people. These apps are great because you can meditate anywhere, anytime. You can even meditate while you’re in line for Black Friday shopping or sitting around at your family’s holiday dinner.
Rule 5: Limit your exposure to Teflon and perfluorinated compounds.
Teflon is the name of the chemical compound found in non-stick cookware. It’s also the name of the company that makes the non-stick cookware. All jokes aside, Teflon is a toxic chemical that has been linked to higher oxidative stress levels. There are some things you can do to reduce your exposure to Teflon: If you can, avoid cooking with non-stick cookware, and if you must, avoid using high heat so your food doesn’t get as badly damaged. You may also want to avoid using certain cleaning supplies. One particular chemical compound called PFAS has been linked to higher oxidative stress levels, even in small amounts. The easiest way to avoid PFAS is to use plain old soap and water, and avoid the use of chemical-based cleaning products.
Rule 6: Finally, make sure you’re getting enough vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, is essential for normal metabolism, your nervous system and red blood cell production. It also helps your body create new DNA and repair damaged DNA molecules. B12 is only found in animal products, so vegetarians and vegans need to take special care to increase their B12 intake. This is especially true during the holidays, when many people eat more meat and other animal products. B12 is water-soluble, which means it can be easily washed out of your system. To ensure that you’re getting enough B12, you should consume animal products at every meal, or supplement with B12 pills. Keep these six tips in mind and you’ll be well on your way to reducing your oxidative stress levels. You’ll feel less stressed, be healthier and be able to enjoy the holidays more!