What could stress, chocolate addiction and exercise have in common? The answer to this came to me while reviewing our six most popular tweets. If you are not sure what a tweet is - it is a 140 character (max) message shared on the Twitter social network. I find Twitter useful for quick health information updates, perhaps over a cup of coffee between clients.
It was fascinating to discover what topics captured the greatest interest across a wide audience. Although these were all separate stories from very different sources I noticed some common connections.
Is it really possible to become addicted to chocolate?
Apparently it is, according to studies proving there are similarities in the level of pleasurable brain activity of a volunteer slurping on a chocolate milkshake and that of somebody addicted to a narcotic substance.
Chocolate being a safer option of course and the Nestle research Centre in Switzerland conveniently suggests in this article that 40grams of dark chocolate everyday could reduce the stress levels in highly stressed individuals.
Remember that it is dark chocolate recommended here. If you want to learn a bit more about other potential health benefits of cocoa see this infographic - Reasons to Love Dark Chocolate
Signs of Stress
We all have good days and not so good days but how do we know if our stress levels are reaching critical levels. No doubt we each have our individual tolerances and symptoms and it's important to recognise these. This article - 6 signs that you're seriously stressed out, details symptoms I would consider severe and I'm relieved to report I recognise 'weakened immunity' in myself on infrequent occasions.
As suggested in the same article, exercise is a widely recognised means to reduce or cope with stress and daily pressures. In another of our most popular tweeted stories - 'Exercise will change your life' the staff reporter provides a great casual read, reminding us why we exercise and what kind of excuses hold us back.
When is too much chocolate bad for you?
If chocolate is your regular choice of substance for comfort during times of stress, the triggers experienced in the reward pathways in the brain may lead to further cravings and loss of control to regulate consumption. Excess intake could be referred to as 'chocoholism'. You've heard the saying 'too much of a good thing can be bad for you'.
Our health depends less on what we call our behaviour than it does on paying attention to the hundreds of small but important choices we make every day.
If chocolate is part of your stress self-management plan - go dark for the extra flavanols and less added sugar. The recommended 30 minutes of daily exercise is not only a recognised way to boost your immune system and make you feel better but will also help you offset any excess energy stores gained from the chocolate!
In good health,