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Stress, booze and late nights pack on pounds - report

Persistent stress is directly linked to overeating, lack of sleep, reduced exercising and increased alcohol intake - all contributing to weight gain, research shows.
A report by Harvard Medical School in the US notes that the key to good health is finding ways to relieve stress without over-eating, while a local nutrition expert advocates healthier lifestyle and eating habits this festive season to avoid bingeing and its consequences. 

South Africa is ranked as the second most stressed nation in the world and although short-term stress may reduce appetite, chronic stress may cause adrenal glands to release the hormone cortisol which boosts appetite. If stress persists, cortisol levels may remain elevated, contributing to “comfort” or overeating. 

“Stress also seems to affect food preferences… (increasing) the intake of food high in fat, sugar or both… These foods really are ‘comfort’ foods in that they seem to counteract stress – and this may contribute to people’s stress-induced craving for those foods,” notes the Harvard report. 

“Overeating isn't the only stress-related behaviour that can add pounds. Stressed people also lose sleep, exercise less, and drink more alcohol, all of which can contribute to excess weight,” the report notes. 

Vanessa Ascencao
Nutrition and health expert, Vanessa Ascencao, says stress-related overeating and over-indulging in the holidays places further pressure on the body, contributing to a cycle of poor health. Ascencao says excessive alcohol, sugary and fatty foods place enormous strain on the liver and other organs. 

“Make a conscious decision now not to binge over the holidays and rather to aim for a healthy and balanced diet. Find an alternative to over-indulging such as exercise, play, or sport. Help your body keep toxins at bay through quality supplements such as potent green tea extract, Origine 8 which is packed with liver-supporting detoxifiers known as catechins.” 

Ascencao shares the following tips to avoid unhealthy choices this holiday season:
  • Identify stress triggers and try to avoid them.
  • Have an “exit plan” for functions at which you’ll be tempted to over-indulge.
  • Be selective about your time – choose healthy pursuits with healthy people.
  • Build resilience by eating plenty of fruit and vegetables.
  • Avoid processed foods and drink lots of water.
  • Try high-quality detox-promoting supplement, Origine 8, and inflammation-fighting Bio-Curcumin.
  • Rest, sleep for at least eight hours a night and exercise daily for at least 30 minutes.

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