healthy-week

Stressful day ahead? Grab a yogurt for breakfast

Oct. 12, 2012 at 7:12 AM ET

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A regular diet of probiotic yogurt can curb anxiety, at least it does in mice, a study has shown.

Everyone knows the tried and true stress-busters of exercising, meditating and getting more shuteye, but who has time for all that? Here are some unexpected -- but simple -- stress-busters based on recent research, each of which you can easily work into your day. 

Eat some probiotic yogurt. Jamie Lee Curtis has long been touting the benefits of probiotic yogurt, aiding in, um, digestion. But probiotics don’t just make your bowels regular -- they also make your brain regular. (At least, according to a study done in mice.)

Researchers from the University of Cork fed mice a diet full of Lactobacillus rhamnosus (JB-1), bacteria that colonize the gut that provide healthy digestion and prevent diarrhea, and found that the mice exhibited fewer signs of depression and anxiety and expressed less corticosterone, a stress hormone. A regular diet of probiotics changed the brain chemistry in the mice -- probiotics modified how the mice expressed receptors for the neurotransmitter GABA, suggesting that probiotics change neurochemistry. Caution: doctors are not yet entirely sure which probiotics work to help people.

Swap spit. Big presentation at work? Overwhelmed with the kids? Just kiss your partner more. Married or cohabitating couples who kiss more frequently show lower levels of stress, depression, and blood lipid level -- in other words, kissing is healthy for your heart. When kissing, men give women extra doses of testosterone, which helps ladies get in the mood for a little lovemaking, another stress-buster. While most people experience heightened stress when it comes to sex (do I look okay naked? Is he having a good time? Can the kids hear us?), all the pros of coitus negate the stress.

Give someone else a massage. Yep, you read that right - the best way to forget about that stressful meeting is to give, not get, a massage -- that's according to a study in birds published last year, anyway

Animals commonly groom or preen one another, an act that bolsters bonding and healthy social dynamics. Green woodhoopoes, a type of bird that lives in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, commonly preen one another’s heads and necks, regions difficult for a bird to self-groom. While preening promotes good hygiene, University of Bristol researcher Andrew Radford found that it also reduces stress. 

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