In the bid for good health we often consider diet and exercise but what about reducing stress to combat the growing national waistline? A study by the Institute of Public and Preventive Health at Georgia Health Sciences University suggests that learning to combat stress might be the key factor to improving health.
Researchers gathered a group of young African-American participants to study their response to stress and the impact this has on their blood pressure levels and sodium retention. Dr Gregory Harshfield, the hypertension researcher that led this study, found that 30 per cent of participants held onto 160mg of salt in response to stress. What’s more, their blood pressure reading went up seven points more than normal, and remained high for about an hour.
"Every time they are stressed, they hold onto as much salt as you get eating a small order of French fries and this can occur many times over the course of even a good day,” Dr Harshfield told reporters. He says that while everyone knows stress and a high-salt diet is unhealthy, they are particularly hazardous for the participants in this risk group. A similar study also found that people of Anglo-Saxon descent also experience issues with stress and salt retention, with ten per cent falling into the high-risk group.
So what can be done to counter these adverse effects? Harshfield found that these dangerously high sodium levels could be lifted with a common blood pressure treatment, angiotensin receptor blockers. As for the simplest solution? Cut down on high-sodium culprits like restaurant meals and processed food and be mindful of the way you manage stress levels throughout the day.
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