STRESS: MANAGE IT BEFORE IT MANAGES YOU
Posted on March 27 2020
We know all too well how draining work or study can be, especially if you work a high-stress job, study late or are putting in long hours doing both. To make matters worse, many business professionals and students find themselves in the predicament of sitting indoors under artificial light behind a computer all day.
This can become a very toxic environment that can add body fat, slow lean muscle development, reduce sex drive (libido), prevent quality sleep, lower energy and set the scene for future chronic diseases like type II diabetes. So, you can’t quit your job, or your studies. Then how do we best manage these side effects?
It’s easy – learn more!!
It goes without saying that these circumstances make performing at your best mentally and physically quite challenging. Sure, you might be able to keep it up for a short stint, but eventually your body (particularly the adrenal glands) won’t be able to sustain the demands (not without some help, at least).
Add to this the role of parenting and the demands of family life, and stress just reached defcon 1. Moreover, considering how competitive the job market is, performing poorly can drastically increase your risk of being fired or not even hired in the first place. Thus, any advantage you can employ to optimise your work or study performance is prudent.
This makes people putting in those 12-hour shifts ponder what they should be doing in terms of diet and supplementation to reduce stress and optimise their cognitive function to excel in their environment.
For most people, the simple solution is to chug back several coffees in the early morning and again in the mid-afternoon. Unfortunately, the caffeine in coffee merely acts as a band-aid; not to mention caffeine has a relatively short half-life and the effects wear off long before your work day is finished.
The Importance of Stress Management Ingredients for Business Professionals and Students
Finding ingredients that are clinically proven to support adrenal function and reduce the impact that stress has on your body is paramount. If you’re not familiar with the adrenal glands, they are small endocrine glands that lie above your kidneys, the main function of the adrenal glands is to produce hormones, especially “stress hormones.”
Stress hormones are so-named because they are secreted in response to stresses placed on your body. These hormones include cortisol (glucocorticoids), glucagon and catecholamines (such as adrenaline).
Arguably the most important stress hormone is cortisol, which is the primary glucocorticoid in humans and essential for our survival. However, like with many other hormones, when your body produces too much (or too little) cortisol a multitude of complications arise.
If you are constantly under stress from working long hours (and relying on caffeine all day), chances are your cortisol levels are sky-high. The main ramification of chronically elevated cortisol is catabolism. This term is used to describe the breakdown of tissue throughout the body (especially skeletal muscle) to provide you with energy. Furthermore, during periods of extensive undernourishment (not eating a micro nutrient dense diet), cortisol initiates the process of gluconeogenesis (creating new glucose from other substrates).
This is why both L-Leucine and L-Glycine, which act to turn on muscle protein synthesis and switch off muscle protein breakdown are so important to your physique when you're under stress.
LETS TALK ASHWAGANDHA (KING OF HERBS)
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) has been used in traditional and modern medicine due to many research-backed benefits, especially anti-stress and neuroprotective effects. Ashwagandha is classified as an adaptogen, meaning it helps you tolerate and “adapt” to both physical and mental stress.
Ashwagandha is abundant with therapeutic compounds, particularly choline, alkaloids and steroidal lactones (such as withanolides). Research demonstrates that supplementing with ashwagandha can decrease cortisol levels by as much as 32% and reduce feelings of anxiety significantly. Even better, ashwagandha has been shown to increase testosterone levels in healthy males by as much as 400% when compared to placebo treatment.
Women shouldn’t be concerned about this as adaptogens (like ashwagandha) are great at helping regulate your hormonal response. This means your hormones will return to what is optimal for you. Plus, testosterone is important for men and women to increases energy, vitality, and motivation; similarly, by decreasing cortisol and helping you adapt to on-the-job stresses, ashwagandha is the gold standard of adaptogens.
Most research suggests that 300mg daily of high-concentration ashwagandha root extract confers significant benefits. You are looking for a high-concentration of greater than 12mg of withanolides (the active ingredient).
If you’re like most business professionals and students, chances are you start your day with a cup of joe (coffee). As such, L-theanine is exactly what you need to maximise your productivity and mitigate the jittery feelings from caffeine. L-theanine is an amino acid found naturally in green tea leaves that works synergistically with caffeine by attenuating (take the edge off) and extending its stimulatory effects.
L-theanine also works to increase your alpha brainwave activity, which creates a calm and collected cognitive state. For this reason, you will notice that L-theanine keeps you alert, yet relaxed and your able to make better decisions and think clearer. L-Theanine has also been shown to improve short term to long term memory recall. It is postulated to work by helping you reach a deeper state of sleep for longer. In deep sleep your body restores memories better and repairs your body’s cells physically due to Human Growth Hormone (HGH) release. If you’re putting in those lengthy hours, L-theanine is a no-brainer (particularly if you work in a high-stress environment).
Research confirms that 100mg of L-theanine per day is an effective dose for attenuating stress and increasing cognitive function. Higher doses may keep you awake where as 100mg tends to be more calming, but not sedative.
Magnesium is arguably the most important mineral in humans, being a cofactor in over 600 known metabolic reactions. Cofactors are essential for proteins to work properly as they assist enzymes and other peptides to carry out their functions. In fact, magnesium helps with the transfer of Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP) for energy in every cell of the body. So, if you don’t have enough magnesium you will never have the high levels of energy you desire.
Sadly, the decreasing quality of whole foods and emphasis on micronutrient-devoid processed foods has led to many people being magnesium deficient (over 75% of sedentary and closer to 99% of active individuals). Hypomagnesemia (magnesium deficiency) is not something to be taken lightly either, as it can lead to muscle weakness, insulin resistance, cramps, malaise, constipation, twitching and cramps.
Moreover, research suggests that lack of magnesium in the body increases feelings of anxiety and makes you more prone to stress (obviously not a good thing for those working long hours). Thankfully, supplementing with magnesium has been shown to rapidly ameliorate the negative ramifications of hypomagnesemia.
Magnesium comes in a variety of supplemental forms and is especially well-absorbed when bound to citric acid (as magnesium citrate).
If you’re busy at the office or lecture theatre all day and don’t get much fruit and vegetables in your diet, chances are you’re lacking vitamin C. Vitamin C not only helps support your immune function, but may also control cortisol secretion, and reduce oxidative stress, all of which are imperative for overall health and performance.
Research has shown that as little as 250mg of vitamin C per day can significantly reduce cortisol levels, especially in active individuals. Not only that, but studies also demonstrate that people who consume adequate vitamin C are at less risk of infection, meaning you won’t miss as many work or study days due to illness.
Keep in mind supplements are only part of the STRESS MANAGEMENT plan and you should look at doing things that bring you joy more often as this is still one of the most effect stress management tools we know of.
Disclaimer: The above article is merely a guide and is in no way a recommendation or a treatment protocol for any health conditions or diseases. You should always consult with a qualified health care provider before changing your supplement, training or nutritional strategy. Supplementation should not be attempted by pregnant or breastfeeding women, anyone on prescription medication or children under the age of 15 unless advised by your qualified health care provider.
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 Wankhede, S., Langade, D., Joshi, K., Sinha, S. R., & Bhattacharyya, S. (2015). Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12(1), 43.
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