MANILA, December 30, 2005
 (STAR) The causes of stress abound in our daily lives that we often take its health-damaging effects for granted. Be it due to bad diet or emotional triggers like anger, hostility, and depression, the cumulative effects of stress could result in serious illnesses, including heart disease.

Heart experts have been affirming the link between stress and heart ailments. There are those who believe that stress directly harms the heart but others contend that it is the negative ways of handling stress that lead to life-threatening heart failures.

Indeed, many people often cite their elevated stress level as an excuse for behavioral problems like smoking, heavy drinking, decreased physical activities and eating disorders.

A recent study conducted by researchers at Ohio State University, however, confirmed that there exists a direct link between stress and heart disease.

In laboratory experiments, the researchers demonstrated that triglycerides – a type of fat associated with heart disorders – tends to stay in the bloodstream longer when a person is under stress.

The researchers explained that under this condition the triglycerides will more likely end up deposited in the arteries where it can accumulate and cause heart disease.

What this finding really proves is that stress do harm the heart both ways and that people should therefore protect themselves from it in a holistic way.

This approach to health is what Nestle Philippines seeks to advance through its Wellness campaign.

Nesvita Pro-Heart brand manager Gerard Poa noted that while little can be done presently to prevent stress from directly harming the heart, much of its detrimental effects can be averted by actively pursuing what he calls the "wellness lifestyle."

"It’s all about being conscious of one’s personal threshold for stress and deliberately keeping it within acceptable levels," Poa said.

Poa further explained that without sufficient time for things like sleep, relaxation, exercise and a healthy diet, prolonged stress would definitely take its toll on the heart.

He recommends the adoption of a wellness-focused lifestyle as a way to keep stress at bay and offers the following practical options:

• Schedule some quiet time at home or work when you can simply take a walk or listen to music.

• Learn simple meditation techniques and meditate at least 20 minutes a day. It induces a complete relaxation response, which eliminates tension from the body and the mind.

• Reduce cholesterol intake. For people with very active lifestyle, this may prove harder to do but they can always try Nesvita Pro-Heart available in ready-to-drink and low-fat instant powder format. It has Acticol, natural plant sterols that are clinically proven to lower cholesterol by as much as seven percent in 30 days. Plant sterols are oils extracted from soya beans that have been shown to reduce cholesterol.

• Keep a personal journal. Therapeutic writing not only releases tension but also often becomes an outlet for personal expression, which proves insightful in handling life’s difficulties.

• Eat healthy food. In addition to a balanced diet, persons who are anticipating stressful events (exams, etc.) are well advised to supplement their regular diet with an increase in protein since stress is known to increase the speed with which protein is used in the body.

• Take a well-planned vacation. It may be a few days off in a resort or just a regular weekend made special. The point is to remove yourself from things that cause you stress.

• Exercise properly. Physical activity releases mental and emotional tension but don’t overdo it. Others opt to do gardening, carpentry or morning walks instead of working the treadmill.

• Get a massage. Studies have confirmed that massage has many health-boosting effects, including reducing heart rate; lowering blood pressure; increasing blood circulation and lymph flow; relaxing muscles; improving range of motion; boosting the immune system; and increasing endorphins.

So, the next time you spend a string of stressful days at home, school or office, take heart and resist your urge to reach for a sugary snack to perk you up.

For a heart-healthy quick fix, get a glass of Nesvita Pro-Heart, while listening to your brand of music or scribbling on your journal.

Or reach for the phone and schedule yourself a professional massage, or a hotel booking or just arrange to meet your friends at the park. Stress has never been this fun to unload.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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