6 Pressure Points for Anxiety Relief

Understanding anxiety

Most people experience anxiety at some point in their life. You might experience mild symptoms when facing a challenging or stressful situation. You might also have more severe, long-lasting symptoms that impact your daily life, including:

  • feelings of panic, fear, or worry
  • restlessness
  • difficulty concentrating
  • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • nausea, headaches, or digestive concerns
  • feeling a lack of control
  • muscle tension

Anxiety is typically treated with therapy, medication, or a combination of both. There are also several alternative treatments, including acupressure, that can help.

Acupressure is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that may provide temporary relief from anxiety symptoms. It involves stimulating pressure points in your body, either on your own or with the help of a professional.

Read on to learn about six pressure points you can try for anxiety relief.

1. Hall of impression point

pressure points

The hall of impression point lies between your eyebrows. Applying pressure to this point is said to help with both anxiety and stress.

To use this point:

  1. Sit comfortably. It can help to close your eyes.
  2. Touch the spot between your eyebrows with your index finger or thumb.
  3. Take slow, deep breaths and apply gentle, firm pressure in a circular motion for 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Heavenly gate point

pressure points

The heavenly gate point is located in the upper shell of your ear, at the tip of the triangle-like hollow there.

Stimulating this point is said to help relieve anxiety, stress, and insomnia.

To use this point:

  1. Locate the point in your ear. It might help to use a mirror.
  2. Apply firm, gentle pressure in a circular motion for two minutes.

3. Shoulder well point

pressure points

The shoulder well point is in your shoulder muscle. To find it, pinch your shoulder muscle with your middle finger and thumb.

This pressure point is said to help with relieving stress, muscle tension, and headaches. It can also induce labor, so don’t use this point if you’re pregnant.

To use this point:

  1. Find the point on your shoulder muscle.
  2. Pinch the muscle with your thumb and middle finger.
  3. Apply gentle, firm pressure with your index finger and massage the point for four to five seconds.
  4. Release the pinch as you massage the point.

4. Union valley point

pressure points

You find this pressure point in the webbing between your thumb and index finger.

Stimulating this point is said to reduce stress, headaches, and neck pain. Like the shoulder well point, it can also induce labor, so avoid this point if you’re pregnant.

To use this point:

  1. With your index finger and thumb, apply firm pressure to the webbing between the thumb and index finger of your other hand.
  2. Massage the pressure point for four to five seconds, taking slow, deep breaths.

5. Great surge point

pressure points

The great surge pressure point is on your foot, about two or three finger widths below the intersection of your big toe and second toe. The point lies in the hollow just above the bone.

This pressure point may help to reduce anxiety and stress. You can also use it for pain, insomnia, and menstrual cramps.

To use this point:

  1. Find the point by moving your finger down straight down from between your first two toes.
  2. Apply firm, deep pressure to the point.
  3. Massage for four to five seconds.

6. Inner frontier gate point

pressure points

You can find the inner frontier gate point on your arm, about three finger widths below your wrist.

Stimulating this point may help to reduce anxiety while also relieving nausea and pain.

To use this point:

  1. Turn one hand so your palm faces up.
  2. With your other hand, measure three fingers below your wrist. The point lies here, in the hollow between the tendons.
  3. Apply pressure to the point and massage for four to five seconds.

The research behind acupressure for anxiety

There’s limited research about the use of acupressure and pressure points for anxiety. But experts are starting to look at alternative anxiety treatments.

Most of the studies that do exist have focused on pressure points for anxiety before a potentially stressful situation or medical procedure, rather than general anxiety. They’ve also all been fairly small. Still, their results are promising.

For example, a 2015 review of several studies examining the effects of acupressure on anxiety found that acupressure seemed to help relieve anxiety before a medical procedure such as surgery.

Another 2015 study of 85 people hospitalized for cancer treatment found that acupressure helped to reduce their anxiety.

2016 study looked at anxiety in 77 students with severe menstrual pain. Acupressure applied at the great surge pressure point during three menstrual cycles decreased anxiety in study participants by the end of the third cycle.

Most recently, a 2018 study found that acupressure helped reduce stress and anxiety symptoms in women receiving fertility treatments.

Again, larger studies are needed to fully understand how to use pressure points for anxiety. But the existing studies haven’t found any negative effects of acupressure on anxiety symptoms, so it may be worth a try if you’re looking to try a new approach.

Just keep in mind that these studies also suggest that acupressure seems to provide temporary, not long-term, relief from symptoms. Make sure to keep up with all other stress management, therapy, or other treatments prescribed by your doctor while trying acupressure.

Know when to see a doctor

While acupressure may provide some temporary relief from anxiety symptoms, there’s not much evidence that it’ll help with long-term anxiety.

If you find that your anxiety symptoms are making it hard to go to work or school or interfering with your relationships, it may be time to talk to a doctor or therapist. Concerned about the cost of therapy? Here are therapy options for every budget.

You should talk to a doctor or therapist if you start to experience:

  • feelings of depression
  • thoughts of suicide
  • panic attacks
  • trouble sleeping
  • headaches
  • digestive problems

The bottom line

Acupressure can be a helpful tool for temporarily managing anxiety symptoms, but there’s not enough evidence to support its use as a treatment for ongoing anxiety. Still, using these pressure points in instances where you’re feeling particularly stressed or anxious can help.

Just make sure to keep up with any other treatments recommended by your doctor and reach out to them or a therapist if your symptoms become more severe or start interfering with your day-to-day life.

6 Simple Ways to Lose Belly Fat, Based on Science

Belly fat is not just a problem because it can look bad.

In fact, having lots of fat in the abdominal area is strongly linked to diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease (1).

For this reason, losing belly fat has massive benefits for your health and can help you live longer.

Belly fat is usually estimated by measuring the circumference around your waist. This can easily be done at home with a simple tape measure.

Anything above 40 inches (102 cm) in men and 35 inches (88 cm) in women is known as abdominal obesity.

If you have a lot of excess fat around your waistline, then you should take some steps to get rid of it even if you’re not very heavy overall.

Fortunately, there are a few proven strategies that have been shown to target the fat in the belly area more than other areas of the body.

Here are 6 evidence-based ways to lose belly fat.

1. Don’t eat sugar and avoid sugar-sweetened drinks

Ways to Lose Belly Fat

Added sugar is very unhealthy.

Studies show that it has uniquely harmful effects on metabolic health (2).

Sugar is half glucose, half fructose, and fructose can only be metabolized by the liver in significant amounts (3).

When you eat a lot of added sugar, the liver gets overloaded with fructose and is forced to turn it into fat (4).

Numerous studies have shown that excess sugar, mostly due to the large amounts of fructose, can lead to increased accumulation of fat in the belly and liver (5).

Some believe that this is the primary mechanism behind sugar’s harmful effects on health. It increases belly fat and liver fat, which leads to insulin resistance and a host of metabolic problems (6).

Liquid sugar is even worse in this regard. Liquid calories don’t get “registered” by the brain in the same way as solid calories, so when you drink sugar-sweetened beverages, you end up eating more total calories (78).

Studies show that sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to a 60% increased risk of obesity in children, for each daily serving (9).

Make a decision to minimize the amount of sugar in your diet, and consider completely eliminating sugary drinks.

This includes sugar-sweetened beverages, sugary sodas, fruit juices and various high-sugar sports drinks.

Keep in mind that none of this applies to whole fruit, which are extremely healthy and have plenty of fiber that mitigates the negative effects of fructose.

The amount of fructose you get from fruit is negligible compared to what you get from a diet high in refined sugar.

If you want to cut back on refined sugar, then you must start reading labels. Even foods marketed as health foods can contain huge amounts of sugar.

SUMMARYExcess sugar consumption may be the primary driver of excess fat in the belly and liver. This is particularly true of sugary beverages like soft drinks.

2. Eating more protein is a great long-term strategy to reduce belly fat

Protein is the most important macronutrient when it comes to losing weight.

It has been shown to reduce cravings by 60%, boost metabolism by 80–100 calories per day and help you eat up to 441 fewer calories per day (10111213).

If weight loss is your goal, then adding protein is perhaps the single most effective change you can make to your diet.

Not only will it help you lose, it also helps you avoid re-gaining weight if you ever decide to abandon your weight loss efforts (14).

There is also some evidence that protein is particularly effective against belly fat.

One study showed that the amount and quality of protein consumed was inversely related to fat in the belly. That is, people who ate more and better protein had much less belly fat (15).

Another study showed that protein was linked to significantly reduced risk of belly fat gain over a period of 5 years (16).

This study also showed that refined carbs and oils were linked to increased amounts of belly fat, but fruits and vegetables linked to reduced amounts.

Many of the studies showing protein to be effective had protein at 25–30% of calories. That’s what you should aim for.

So make an effort to increase your intake of high-protein foods such as whole eggs, fish, seafood, legumes, nuts, meat and dairy products. These are the best protein sources in the diet.

If you struggle with getting enough protein in your diet, then a quality protein supplement (like whey protein) is a healthy and convenient way to boost your total intake.

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, then check out this article on how to increase your protein intake.

You can find plenty of protein powder options on Amazon.

Bonus tip: Consider cooking your foods in coconut oil. Some studies have shown that 30 mL (about 2 tablespoons) of coconut oil per day reduces belly fat slightly (1718).

SUMMARYEating plenty of protein can boost your metabolism and reduce hunger levels, making it a very effective way to lose weight. Several studies suggest that protein is particularly effective against belly fat accumulation.

3. Cut carbs from your diet

Carb restriction is a very effective way to lose fat.

This is supported by numerous studies. When people cut carbs, their appetite goes down and they lose weight (19).

Over 20 randomized controlled trials have now shown that low-carb diets lead to 2–3 times more weight loss than low-fat diets (202122).

This is true even when the low-carb groups are allowed to eat as much as they want, while the low-fat groups are calorie restricted and hungry.

Low-carb diets also lead to quick reductions in water weight, which gives people near instant results. A difference on the scale is often seen within 1–2 days.

There are also studies comparing low-carb and low-fat diets, showing that low-carb diets specifically target the fat in the belly, and around the organs and liver (2324).

What this means is that a particularly high proportion of the fat lost on a low-carb diet is the dangerous and disease promoting abdominal fat.

Just avoiding the refined carbs (sugar, candy, white bread, etc) should be sufficient, especially if you keep your protein intake high.

However, if you need to lose weight fast, then consider dropping your carbs down to 50 grams per day. This will put your body into ketosis, killing your appetite and making your body start burning primarily fats for fuel.

Of course, low-carb diets have many other health benefits besides just weight loss. They can have life-saving effects in type 2 diabetics, for example (25).

SUMMARYStudies have shown that cutting carbs is particularly effective at getting rid of the fat in the belly area, around the organs and in the liver.

4. Eat foods rich in fiber, especially viscous fiber

Dietary fiber is mostly indigestible plant matter.

It is often claimed that eating plenty of fiber can help with weight loss.

This is true, but it’s important to keep in mind that not all fiber is created equal.

It seems to be mostly the soluble and viscous fibers that have an effect on your weight (26).

These are fibers that bind water and form a thick gel that “sits” in the gut.

This gel can dramatically slow the movement of food through your digestive system, and slow down the digestion and absorption of nutrients. The end result is a prolonged feeling of fullness and reduced appetite (27).

One review study found that an additional 14 grams of fiber per day were linked to a 10% decrease in calorie intake and weight loss of 4.5 lbs (2 kg) over 4 months (28).

In one 5-year study, eating 10 grams of soluble fiber per day was linked to a 3.7% reduction in the amount of fat in the abdominal cavity (29).

What this implies, is that soluble fiber may be particularly effective at reducing the harmful belly fat.

The best way to get more fiber is to eat a lot of plant foods like vegetables and fruit. Legumes are also a good source, as well as some cereals like whole oats.

Then you could also try taking a fiber supplement like glucomannan. This is one of the most viscous dietary fibers in existence, and has been shown to cause weight loss in several studies (3031).

SUMMARYThere is some evidence that soluble dietary fiber can lead to reduced amounts of belly fat. This should cause major improvements in metabolic health and reduced risk of several diseases.

5. Exercise is very effective at reducing belly fat

Exercise is important for various reasons.

It is among the best things you can do if you want to live a long, healthy life and avoid disease.

Listing all of the amazing health benefits of exercise is beyond the scope of this article, but exercise does appear to be effective at reducing belly fat.

However, keep in mind that I’m not talking about abdominal exercises here. Spot reduction (losing fat in one spot) is not possible, and doing endless amounts of ab exercises will not make you lose fat from the belly.

In one study, 6 weeks of training just the abdominal muscles had no measurable effect on waist circumference or the amount of fat in the abdominal cavity (32).

That being said, other types of exercise can be very effective.

Aerobic exercise (like walking, running, swimming, etc) has been shown to cause major reductions in belly fat in numerous studies (3334).

Another study found that exercise completely prevented people from re-gaining abdominal fat after weight loss, implying that exercise is particularly important during weight maintenance (35).

Exercise also leads to reduced inflammation, lower blood sugar levels and improvements in all the other metabolic abnormalities that are associated with excess abdominal fat (36).

SUMMARYExercise can be very effective if you are trying to lose belly fat. Exercise also has a number of other health benefits and can help you live a longer life.

6. Track your foods and figure out exactly what and how much you are eating

What you eat is important. Pretty much everyone knows this.

However, most people actually don’t have a clue what they are really eating.

People think they’re eating “high protein,” “low-carb” or something else, but tend to drastically over- or underestimate.

I think that for anyone who truly wants to optimize their diet, tracking things for a while is absolutely essential.

It doesn’t mean you need to weigh and measure everything for the rest of your life, but doing it every now and then for a few days in a row can help you realize where you need to make changes.

If you want to boost your protein intake to 25–30% of calories, as recommended above, just eating more protein rich foods won’t be enough. You need to actually measure and fine tune in order to reach that goal.

Check out these articles here for a calorie calculator and a list of free online tools and apps to track what you are eating.

I personally do this every few months. I weigh and measure everything I eat to see what my current diet looks like.

Then I know exactly where to make adjustments in order to get closer to my goals.

8 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Sex Life

improve sex life

Push the reset button on your sex life

If you’re coupled and stuck in a sexual rut, you’re not alone. While dry spells are a normal part of any relationship, it’s still no consolation for couples experiencing one. “Familiarity is the death of the sex drive,” Allison Moon author of “Girl Sex 101” told Healthline. “The more we get used to someone, the less exciting sex becomes.”

Here are some quick tips — some of which I’ve tried — to help reignite passion if your sex life is lacking.

1. Liberate your body’s energy in a new way

“Go dancing or try yoga,” says Moon. “Once you affirm your connection with your own body, you can affirm your connection with your partner’s body.” One survey found that coupled but sexually inactive people were prone to feelings of sadness and felt unattractive. Reclaim your sexual power by finding new ways to move and get comfortable in your body.

2. Reignite your dopamine with a fresh experience

“Doing something new creates a sense of bonding and intimacy. Think outside of the box and do an activity that might scare you or excite you, like an amusement park ride or an escape room,” advises Sunny Megatron, sex educator and co-host of the American Sex Podcast. “You will create dopamine and duplicate the same feelings you had in the honeymoon phase of your relationship.”

Experts say dopamine and other chemicals in the brain are directly linked to physical attraction and romantic passion, which is why bonding over a new activity together could help spark arousal.

3. Schedule a sex “fact-finding” night

brain stimulation

“Take one night to have a raw discussion about what you do and don’t like sexually, explore new sex moves, and talk about your hidden fantasies,” Megatron told Healthline. “Don’t pressure yourself to be sexy, just experiment to see what you like and say what you normally avoid saying out of fear of embarrassing yourself or sounding insensitive.”

2016 online research survey on 1,200 men and women ages 18-25 showed that men and women have wildly different sexual expectations. These expectations are unlikely to change overnight, so couples must communicate their likes and dislikes in bed in order to have a mutually pleasurable experience.

4. Take a sex class and use your weekend to practice

“Taking a couples’ sex class can open up a whole new avenue of sex play,” says Megatron. Finding a one-night sex class is as easy as hopping on Eventbrite or Facebook. Couples can learn about new sex positions, techniques, and toys and props for sex play, in a learning environment that is fun — not intimidating.

When I took a bondage class with my partner, the sex educator was welcoming and made us feel comfortable. I recommend it to any couple that wants to have fun while learning new tricks.

5. Go on a sexy overnight getaway (or not)

“Go away to experiment with [a] little role-play. Make up backstories for your characters ahead of time, dress up, and have fun with it,” says Megatron. The U.S. Travel Association even reports that couples that travel together have better sex lives.

But, some couples working their way back to intimacy may find a sexy rendezvous challenging. “Going on a romantic getaway can create too much pressure to perform,” says Moon. “You will benefit even if you spend time together in ways that are nonsexual. Go hiking together or visit a new local spot.”

6. Get cozy and chill with an erotic movie

erotic film

“Get to know each other’s experience of titillation,” says Moon. “There is porn that is couple-friendly.” For porn sites that offer female-friendly, queer-friendly, and couple-friendly alternatives, Moon suggests SsshCrashpadseries, and FrolicMe.

For couples that want to take a walk on the wild side, Megatron suggests attending a weekend sex convention. “There are sex conventions year-round in almost every city. They offer sex classes and you can observe sex play without participating. Reserve those ideas for when you get home later.” Sex conventions are listed on social sites including FetLife and Kasidie.

7. Pleasure yourself in front of your partner

“Masturbating allows your partner to see you enjoy pleasure, which can build intimacy,” says Moon. Allowing your partner to witness how and where you like to be touched is practicing a level of vulnerability that encourages closeness. Masturbation also has numerous health benefits, including improving your mood and relieving pent-up stress, which is a great primer for more sex.

For adventurous couples, Megatron has a more daring suggestion. “Wear a remote-control sex toy on your date and let your partner hold the remote control. Use it as a form of extended foreplay to put your libidos in overdrive before you reach home.”

8. Have a one-to-one talk to air out seeded stress

Lack of communication is often what leads to sex droughts in a relationship. According to the Guardian, a recent survey found that couples who argued frequently were 10 times happier than those that avoided conflict. “Practice having hard conversations,” says Moon. “Fostering intimacy can often be as simple as having a conversation you have been avoiding.”

Don’t get discouraged by what your partner says. Just remember that discovering what’s wrong in your relationship is part of making an effort to improve it. “There are solutions if you are willing to compromise,” says Megatron. “Even if you are sexually mismatched, you can get creative and fix those inequities.”

If nothing else works, tap into your inner needs

Stress and the busyness of life are other factors that affect sexual intimacy, but there are fruitful ways to overcome setbacks. “Sometimes you just need to tap into something simple to get back on track, but many people let fear or embarrassment stop them from trying,” says Megatron.

Stress and Weight Gain: Understanding the Connection

If there’s one thing that unites us, it’s stress.

In fact, data from the 2017 Stress in America Survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that 3 out of 4 Americans reported experiencing at least one stress symptom in the last month.

Unfortunately, all of this excess stress can lead to an increase in weight. And whether the extra weight is a result of overeating and unhealthy food choices, or your body’s response to increased levels of cortisol, getting a handle on stress is a priority if you want to prevent stress-related weight gain.

What stress does to your body

You may not notice it at first, but stress can have a noticeable effect on your body.

From tight muscles and headaches to feeling irritated, overwhelmed, and out of control, stress takes a toll on your physical, mental, and emotional health.

In many cases, you’ll feel the effects of stress right away. But there are other ways your body responds to stress, such as weight gain, that may take time to notice.

According to Dr. Charlie Seltzer, a weight loss physician, your body responds to stress by increasing levels of cortisol, which gets the body ready to “fight or flee.”

Cortisol, a stress hormone released by the adrenal glands, increases in response to a threat. When you no longer perceive a threat, cortisol levels return to normal.

But if stress is always present, you can experience an overexposure to cortisol, which Seltzer says is a problem since cortisol is also a significant appetite stimulant.

“This is why so many people respond to stress by going for comfort food,” he explains.

And to make matters worse, Seltzer also points out that excess calories consumed in the setting of high cortisol appear to be preferentially deposited around the middle.

What’s more, a 2015 study showed that our bodies metabolize slower under stress.

The study found that the women participants who reported one or more stressors during the previous 24 hours burned 104 fewer calories than non-stressed women.

To arrive at this figure, researchers interviewed the women about stressful events prior to giving them a high-fat meal to eat. After finishing the meal, the women wore masks that measured their metabolism by calculating inhaled and exhaled airflow of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Not only did it demonstrate a slow down in their metabolism, but the results also showed that stressed women had higher levels of insulin.

The researchers concluded that the 104 fewer calories burned could add almost 11 pounds per year.

What are the risks of stress and weight gain?

When stress peaks or becomes difficult to manage, more serious, long-term health-related consequences can occur.

Depression, high blood pressure, insomnia, heart disease, anxiety, and obesity are all linked to untreated chronic stress.

The risks associated with weight gain include:

Additionally, there’s evidence of a connection between obesity and certain cancers such as pancreatic, esophageal, colon, breast, and kidney cancer.

Finally, your mental health can take a hit. An increase in anxiety or depression can also happen when you unintentionally gain weight.

How is stress-related weight gain diagnosed?

The only way to know if your weight gain is related to stress is to see your doctor.

“That’s because stress-related weight gain can only be diagnosed by taking a careful history and ruling out other things, like low thyroid function, that can also cause weight gain,” explains Seltzer.

Ways to reduce your stress that you can do today

Stress affects all of us at some point. Some people may experience it multiple times a day, while others may only notice it when it begins to interfere with daily tasks.

When you’re feeling stressed, there are several small steps you can take to calm down, including:

  • exercise for 20 to 30 minutes
  • get outdoors and enjoy nature
  • nourish your body with healthy food
  • cultivate social support (aka, phone a friend)
  • eliminate one item on your to-do list
  • take a 10-minute yoga break
  • ask family for help
  • practice mindfulness meditation
  • listen to music
  • read a book
  • go to bed one hour earlier
  • be kind to yourself
  • say “no” to one thing that may add stress
  • spend time with a pet
  • practice 10 minutes of deep breathing
  • ditch the caffeine and alcohol

Treatment for stress-related weight gain

Treating and managing stress-related weight gain starts with a visit to your doctor’s office to discuss your concerns. After a thorough exam, they’ll rule out any other health issues and help you come up with a plan to manage your weight and reduce stress.

In addition to implementing the stress-busting steps listed above, your doctor may recommend working with a registered dietitian (RD) that specializes in stress and weight loss. An RD can help you develop a balanced nutrition plan that fits your needs.

Your doctor may also suggest working with a psychologist or therapist to develop strategies to manage your stress.

And finally, your doctor may also talk with you about medication if your stress is related to chronic anxiety or depression.

What’s the outlook for people with stress and weight gain?

People with chronic high stress are susceptible to several health-related issues, including:

  • heart disease
  • digestive issues
  • sleep deprivation
  • high blood pressure
  • cognitive impairment
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • diabetes
  • stroke
  • other chronic conditions

Additionally, extra weight may increase your risk for diabetes and certain cancers.

With proper treatment, including medical interventions and lifestyle modifications, you can lower your stress levels, reduce stress-related weight gain, and decrease the chances of developing a long-term health condition.

The takeaway

Chronic stress can lead to weight gain. The good news is there are simple and effective ways to reduce daily stressors, and consequently, manage your weight.

Through regular exercise, healthy food choices, mindfulness meditation, and minimizing your to-do list, you can begin to reduce stress and manage weight.

7 Best Vitamins and Supplements to Combat Stress

While everyone has specific life stressors, factors related to job pressure, money, health, and relationships tend to be the most common.

Stress can be acute or chronic and lead to fatigue, headaches, upset stomach, nervousness, and irritability or anger.

Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and good nutrition are some of the best ways to better equip your body to combat stress, but several vitamins and supplements can also help.

Here are the 7 best vitamins and supplements to help you combat stress.

A young woman who is stressed

1. Rhodiola rosea

Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea), is an herb that grows in the cold, mountainous regions of Russia and Asia.

It has long been known as an adaptogen, a natural, non-toxic herb that stimulates your body’s stress response system to increase stress resistance (1).

The adaptogenic properties of rhodiola are linked to two of the herb’s potent active ingredients — rosavin and salidroside (2).

An 8-week study in 100 people with chronic fatigue symptoms, such as poor sleep quality and impairments in short-term memory and concentration, found that supplementing with 400 mg of rhodiola extract daily improved symptoms after just 1 week (3).

The symptoms continued to decline throughout the study.

In another study in 118 people with stress-related burnout, taking 400 mg of rhodiola extract daily for 12 weeks improved associated symptoms, including anxiety, exhaustion, and irritability (4).

Rhodiola is well tolerated and has a strong safety profile (567).

SUMMARYRhodiola is an adaptogenic herb that has been shown to improve symptoms associated with chronic fatigue and stress-related burnout.

2. Melatonin

Getting adequate amounts of quality sleep is important for relieving stress.

Stress is strongly linked to insomnia, a sleep disorder characterized by difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep — or both (89).

That said, achieving adequate quality sleep may not be the easiest if you’re under stress, which in turn could worsen its severity.

Melatonin is a natural hormone that regulates your body’s circadian rhythm, or sleep-wake cycle. Levels of the hormone increase in the evening when it’s dark to promote sleep and decrease in the morning when it’s light to promote wakefulness.

In a review of 19 studies in 1,683 people with primary sleep disorders — those not caused by another condition — melatonin decreased the time it took people to fall asleep, increased total sleep time, and improved overall sleep quality, compared with a placebo (10).

Another review of 7 studies involving 205 people investigated the effectiveness of melatonin for managing secondary sleep disorders, which are those caused by another condition, such as stress or depression.

The review demonstrated that melatonin decreased the time it took people to fall asleep and increased total sleep time but did not significantly affect sleep quality, compared with a placebo (11).

Though melatonin is a natural hormone, supplementing with it does not affect your body’s production of it. Melatonin is also non-habit-forming (12).

Melatonin supplements range in dosage from 0.3–10 mg. It’s best to start with the lowest dose possible and work up to a higher dose if necessary (13).

While melatonin supplements can be purchased over the counter in the United States, they require a prescription in many other countries.

SUMMARYSupplementing with melatonin may help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer if you have difficulties falling asleep related to stress.

3. Glycine

Glycine is an amino acid that your body uses to create proteins.

Studies suggest that glycine may increase your body’s resistance to stress by encouraging a good night’s rest through its calming effect on the brain and ability to lower your core body temperature (1415).

A lower body temperature promotes sleep and helps you stay asleep during the night.

In one study, 15 people who had complaints about the quality of their sleep and took 3 grams of glycine before bed experienced less fatigue and increased alertness the following day, compared with a placebo (16).

These effects occurred despite no difference in the time it took to fall asleep or time slept, compared with a placebo, suggesting glycine improved sleep quality.

In a similar study, taking 3 grams of glycine before bedtime was shown to improve measures of sleep quality and performance on memory recognition tasks (17).

What’s more, another small study found that supplementing with 3 grams of glycine before bed reduced daytime sleepiness and fatigue following 3 days of sleep deprivation (18).

Glycine is well tolerated, but taking 9 grams on an empty stomach before bed has been associated with minor stomach upset. That said, taking 3 grams is unlikely to cause any side effects (19).

SUMMARYThe calming effects of glycine have been shown to improve sleep quality and feelings of alertness and focus.

4. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an adaptogenic herb native to India, where it has been used in Indian Ayurveda, one of the world’s oldest medicinal systems (20).

Similarly to rhodiola, ashwagandha is thought to enhance your body’s resilience to physical and mental stress (21).

In one study on the stress-relieving effects of ashwagandha, researchers randomized 60 individuals with mild stress to receive 240 mg of a standardized ashwagandha extract or a placebo daily for 60 days (22).

Compared with the placebo, supplementing with ashwagandha was strongly associated with greater reductions in stress, anxiety, and depression. Ashwagandha was also linked to a 23% reduction in morning levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.

What’s more, a review of five studies examining the effects of ashwagandha on anxiety and stress observed that those who supplemented with ashwagandha extract scored better on tests measuring levels of stress, anxiety, and fatigue (23).

A study investigating the safety and efficacy of supplementing with ashwagandha in people with chronic stress noted that taking 600 mg of ashwagandha for 60 days was safe and well tolerated (24).

SUMMARYThe adaptogenic properties of ashwagandha have been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as lower morning cortisol levels.

5. L-theanine

L-theanine is an amino acid most commonly found in tea leaves.

It has been studied for its ability to promote relaxation and reduce stress without exerting sedative effects (2526).

A review of 21 studies involving nearly 68,000 people found that drinking green tea was associated with reduced anxiety and improvements in memory and attention (27).

These effects were attributed to the synergistic effects of the caffeine and l-theanine in the tea, as each ingredient on its own was found to have a lesser impact.

However, studies suggest that l-theanine by itself may still help relieve stress.

One study showed that supplementing with 200 mg of l-theanine reduced measures of stress, such as heart rate, in response to performing a mentally stressful task (28).

In another study in 34 people, drinking a beverage containing 200 mg of l-theanine and other nutrients lowered levels of the stress hormone cortisol in response to a stressful task that involved multitasking (29).

L-theanine is well tolerated and safe when supplemented with at its effective dose for relaxation, which ranges from 200–600 mg per day in capsule form (3031).

For comparison, l-theanine comprises 1–2% of the dry weight of leaves, corresponding to 10–20 mg of l-theanine per commercially available tea bag (32).

That said, drinking tea is unlikely to have any noticeable effect on stress. Nonetheless, many people find the act of drinking tea to be relaxing.

SUMMARY L-theanine is a natural component of tea leaves that has been shown to reduce stress and promote relaxation.

6. B complex vitamins

B complex vitamins usually contain all eight B vitamins.

These vitamins play an important role in metabolism by transforming the food you eat into usable energy. B vitamins are also essential for heart and brain health (33).

Food sources of B vitamins include grains, meats, legumes, eggs, dairy products, and leafy greens.

Interestingly, high doses of B vitamins have been suggested to improve symptoms of stress, such as mood and energy levels, by lowering blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine (343536).

High levels of homocysteine are associated with stress and an increased risk of several conditions, including heart disease, dementia, and colorectal cancer (37383940).

In one 12-week study in 60 people with work-related stress, those taking one of two forms of a vitamin B complex supplement experienced less work-related stress symptoms, including depression, anger, and fatigue, compared with those in the placebo group (41).

What’s more, a review of 8 studies involving 1,292 people found that taking a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement improved several aspects of mood, including stress, anxiety, and energy (42).

Though the supplement contained several other vitamins and minerals, the study’s authors suggested that supplements containing high doses of B vitamins may be more effective at improving aspects of mood.

Another study observed similar results, suggesting that supplementing with B vitamins as part of a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement may improve mood and stress by lowering homocysteine levels (43).

However, it’s unclear whether people who already have low homocysteine levels will experience these same effects.

Vitamin B complex supplements are generally safe when taken within the recommended dosage ranges. However, they may cause harmful side effects like nerve pain when taken in large amounts. Plus, they’re water-soluble, so your body excretes any excess through urine (44).

SUMMARYThe eight B vitamins, collectively known as B complex vitamins, may improve mood and reduce stress by either lowering homocysteine levels or maintaining healthy levels of this amino acid.

7. Kava

Kava (Piper methysticum) is a tropical evergreen shrub native to the South Pacific islands (45).

Its roots have traditionally been used by Pacific Islanders to prepare a ceremonial beverage called kava, or kava kava.

Kava contains active compounds called kavalactones, which have been studied for their stress-reducing properties.

Kavalactones are thought to inhibit the breakdown of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that decreases the activity of your nervous system, producing a calming effect. This can help relieve feelings of anxiety and stress (46).

A review of 11 studies in 645 people found that kava extract relieved anxiety, a common reaction to stress (4748).

However, another review concluded that there is insufficient evidence to confirm that kava relieves anxiety (49).

Kava can be taken in tea, capsule, powder, or liquid form. Its use appears to be safe when taken for 4–8 weeks at a daily dosage of 120–280 mg of kavalactones (49).

Serious side effects like liver damage have been linked to kava supplements, likely due to supplement adulteration or the use of less expensive parts of the kava plant, such as the leaves or stems, instead of the roots (50).

Therefore, if you choose to supplement with kava, choose a reputable brand that has its products independently tested by organizations like NSF International or Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

Kava is not a controlled substance in the United States, but several European countries have regulatory measures in place to limit its sale (51).

SUMMARYKava has traditionally been consumed as a ceremonial beverage. Studies suggest that it may alleviate anxiety via its calming effects, but more research is needed.

The bottom line

Stress can be caused by many things, such as job, money, health, or relationship factors.

Several vitamins and other supplements have been linked to reduced stress symptoms, including Rhodiola rosea, melatonin, glycine, and ashwagandha.

L-theanine, B complex vitamins, and kava may also help increase your body’s resistance to life’s stressors.

Always check with your healthcare provider before trying a new supplement, especially if you’re taking other medications, pregnant, or planning to become pregnant.

If stress continues to be a problem in your life, consider speaking with a medical professional or therapist about possible solutions.

Skipping Breakfast Before Your Workout Could Help You Burn Fat

Researchers are learning more about how exercising and fasting can help you stay healthy. Getty Images
  • Getting in a workout before you eat breakfast may affect your insulin levels and help you stay healthier.
  • Improving insulin sensitivity may help decrease the likelihood of developing diabetes.
  • A new study out of the United Kingdom focuses on how mealtimes can affect the results of a workout.

Exercising before breakfast can boost health benefits for people, including burning significantly more fat and helping them better control their blood sugar, according to a new study published this month in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism by health scientists at two British universities.

In the course of the 6-week study, researchers from the universities of Bath and Birmingham studied dozens of men with overweight or obesity who were sedentary from the Bath region in England.

The study showed that those who worked out before breakfast burned twice the amount of fat than those who exercised after a morning meal.

The researchers found that those who exercised after fasting overnight had lower insulin levels during exercise.

How the study worked

The participants, who engaged in moderate-intensity cycling, ate their meals before 8 p.m. the evening before the exercise.

Researchers compared results from two groups — those who ate breakfast before exercise and those who ate after — with a control group of men that made no lifestyle changes.

Researchers built the study in part on growing evidence that the timing of meals can have an impact on the effectiveness of exercise.

Although working out before breakfast over 6 weeks didn’t lead to any weight loss differences, the study found it did have a positive impact on the participants’ health, because their bodies responded better to insulin.

This effect has significant long-term ramifications: It kept their blood sugar levels in check and has the potential to reduce the risk of conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

The researchers say their data is the first to show that exercise training before eating breakfast has an impact on moderate-intensity training exercise in men with overweight or obesity.

The researchers explained that the increase in fat use is largely attributable to lower insulin levels during exercise, which means pre-breakfast exercisers end up using more of the fat from their fat tissue and within their muscles as fuel.

“The biggest takeaways from this study are that the timing of meals in relation to exercise can have a profound impact on the responses to exercise,” Javier Gonzalez, PhD, a senior lecturer in human physiology at the University of Bath and one of the study’s co-authors, said by email.

“For people looking to maximize the health benefits of exercise, performing some sessions in an overnight fasted state is likely to provide greater benefits than performing all sessions after breakfast,” he said.

Gonzalez noted that previous research has suggested a single session of exercise performed before breakfast increases fat use. But before this study, no one knew for certain whether this increase in fat use persists over a training program or a sustained period of time.

“Here we demonstrate that the increase in fat use with exercise before breakfast persists throughout six weeks of training, even as people get fitter,” Gonzalez said. “Furthermore, this translates into improvements in insulin sensitivity and adaptations in muscle associated with glucose control.”

He added that these improvements in insulin sensitivity and adaptations to muscle have the potential to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Todd Astorino, PhD, a professor of kinesiology at California State University San Marcos, said health scientists have known for at least 40 years that abstaining from food before exercise enhances a reliance on fat as fuel.

“So their results showing this are not novel,” he said by email. But he said what is novel is that high insulin levels were reduced with exercise training before, but not after, carbohydrate ingestion.

“This suggests that if you have a person exercising who is at risk for diabetes or has diabetes and has high blood sugar, exercise should be done in the fasted state to foster this reduction in the insulin response to a meal, which is linked to overall metabolic health status,” Astorino explained.

He called the study’s revelation groundbreaking.

Getting healthier without losing weight

Kent Hansen, an assistant professor in the department of health, exercise, and rehabilitative sciences at Winona State University in Minnesota, says the public health message here could be that you don’t have to necessarily lose body fat to become more sensitive to insulin.

“Let’s say genetics dictate that you’re a bigger person. The public health message would say that even though you don’t lose weight, you can improve your health with a method similar to this,” he said.

The study was funded by The Physiological Society, Rank Prize Funds, and Allen Foundation.

Researchers say next steps include exploring the longer-term effects of this type of exercise and looking into whether women will benefit in the same way as men.

“We performed this study in men as a first study to ensure we had a homogenous group of people,” Gonzalez said. “We are very keen to see if the responses translate to women too.”

6 Ways to ‘Quiet’ Your Brain and Live Longer

  • Newer research links “quiet” brains with longevity.
  • Researchers theorize that a less active brain uses less of the body’s energy.
  • Experts say there are a number of ways to calm your brain, including meditation, active listening, and mindful eating.

Everyone wants to stay mentally sharp as they get older — and it stands to reason that one way to do this is to maintain an active brain.

But new research suggests that less may be more when it comes to your brain activity.

In a study published in the medical journal Nature, researchers from Harvard Medical School report that a calm brain with less neural activity could lead to a longer life.

After analyzing donated brain tissue from people who died at ages from 60 to more than 100, researchers said they noticed that the longest-lived people had lower levels of genes related to neural activity.

A protein, REST, that suppresses neural activity was found to be associated with neural activity and mortality.

In experiments on worms and mammals, boosting REST led to lower neural activity and longer lifespans while suppressing it did the opposite.

“This study shows that daily periods of slowed activity, whether spent in meditation, unitasking, or simply being still or sleeping are as important for brain health and longevity as activity and exercise,” Gayatri Devi, MD, a neurologist and psychiatrist at Northwell Health in New York, told Healthline.

“The brain is the most energy-hungry organ in our body, consuming nearly a third of our energy, although it weighs only about one-seventieth of our body weight,” explained Devi. “For our brains and our bodies, less is more and rest is best.”

In a world that often feels like it’s moving too quickly, what are some of the best ways to quiet the brain?

Maryanna Klatt, PhD, a professor of clinical family medicine at The Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, specializes in stress-related chronic illness and is trained in mindfulness, running a program called Mindfulness in Motion.

She shared some strategies for your brain with Healthline.

Tune into your body

Klatt says a great way to start on your path to lowered stress and heightened mindfulness is to be more aware of your body.

“Just some gentle stretches and awareness of where you’re holding your tension is a great starting point because when people acknowledge their body, they open up to what really is going on for them,” she said.

Another exercise in mindfulness is to establish a habit that sets events into motion.

“Since we deal a lot with medical doctors, I suggest touching a doorknob before meeting with a patient,” explained Klatt. “This creates a moment to focus on why they’re doing what they’re doing and how they’re going to connect with the patient. The habit is a helpful way to be present with a patient or co-worker.”

Meditation works hand-in-hand with mindfulness because it provides a helpful barometer of one’s mental state.

“It’s not about clearing your mind, it’s about seeing where your mind’s at,” said Klatt. “That’s why having a little meditation practice, even 5 or 10 minutes a day, can make a difference in bringing mindfulness to your activity during the whole day.”

Listen!

In a spirited discussion, it’s all too easy to stop listening to others as you wait for your chance to speak.

Klatt says she’s seen this in a classroom setting.

“One way to recognize that we are going a thousand miles an hour is to watch our thoughts,” she said. “If you’re not really listening, or not being present with whoever you’re with, that can be a wake-up call to be present and not miss the moment.”

Chart it out

A simple exercise can spell out, in stark terms, whether we’re truly living the life we want to live.

Klatt asks students to create two pie charts, one to show how they’d like to divide the 24 hours in their day, and one to show how they actually spend their time.

While the breakdown likely includes time away from the office, it often doesn’t include any time that’s truly free.

“Earmarking open space intentionally every day, so it’s not for X, Y, or Z, not for exercising, not for reading, but for unstructured time, can help,” said Klatt.

During this time, it’s important to set boundaries and consciously tell yourself that you’re taking time for yourself.

“It’s about being really honest with yourself about having clear boundaries and telling yourself that you’re going to take a break from work, or kids, or trying to solve problems, during the downtime,” Klatt explained. “I think that people waste their downtime. People feel doubly bad because they didn’t get anything productive done and what they really didn’t get done was relaxing.”

Think about meals

We’re often told to watch what we eat, but we’re rarely told to watch how or where we eat.

While it’s fine to enjoy a treat full of empty calories from time to time, it’s probably best not to wolf down a bag of chips while zoning out in front of the television.

“I tell people that if they’re going to eat it anyway, they need to savor it,” said Klatt. “Savor every moment of it because otherwise you’re getting all those calories and you’re missing the pleasure of it.”

Recognize burnout

Many people don’t acknowledge burnout until they’re fully burnt out.

Recognizing the signs of burnout before it sets in can help with re-assessing and re-prioritizing.

Klatt says symptoms can include emotional exhaustion, the lack of a sense of personal accomplishment, a lack of excitement, and a pervasive mood of irritation.

“It’s when stuff that hadn’t in the past been a big deal suddenly becomes a big deal,” she said. “That’s the point where you want to step back before you get to the point where you’re really not effective at your job, nor effective at living the life that you want to live. Then it’s lose-lose.”

Seek mentors

It’s always good to learn from the best.

To this end, Klatt suggests reading up on mindfulness and meditation. (She suggests the book “Wherever You Go, There You Are” by Jon Kabat-Zinn).

Positive examples can also be found in daily life. People who are engaged in their job and their life might have good advice for finding the right balance.

“I think mentorship in terms of mindfulness has really meant a lot during my life,” said Klatt. “Sometimes, you stumble and don’t know how to move forward. I think people all around us have this wisdom, but we don’t take the time to think about who we respect in terms of how they live their lives.”

5 Pressure Points for Great Sleep

Overview

Insomnia is a fairly common sleep disorder that makes it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Having insomnia prevents many people from getting the seven to nine hours of sleep per night that experts recommend.

Some people experience short periods of insomnia for a few days or weeks, while others have insomnia for months at a time.

Regardless of how often you have insomnia, acupressure may provide some relief. Acupressure involves using physical touch to stimulate pressure points that correspond to different aspects of physical and mental health.

While you can have acupressure done by a professional, you can also try stimulating pressure points on your own. Read on to learn five pressure points you can try and find out more about the science behind using acupressure for sleep.

1. Spirit gate

The spirit gate point is located at the crease on your outer wrist, below your pinkie finger.

To treat insomnia:

  1. Feel for the small, hollow space in this area and apply gentle pressure in a circular or up-and-down movement.
  2. Continue for two to three minutes.
  3. Hold the left side of the point with gentle pressure for a few seconds, and then hold the right side.
  4. Repeat on the same area of your other wrist.

Stimulating this pressure point is associated with quieting your mind, which can help you fall asleep.

2. Three yin intersection

The three yin intersection point is located on your inner leg, just above your ankle.

To treat insomnia:

  1. Locate the highest point on your ankle.
  2. Count four finger widths up your leg, above your ankle.
  3. Apply deep pressure slightly behind your biggest lower-leg bone (tibia), massaging with circular or up-and-down motions for four to five seconds.

In addition to helping with insomnia, simulating this pressure point can also help with pelvic disorders and menstrual cramps.

Don’t use this pressure point if you’re pregnant, as it’s also associated with inducing labor.

3. Bubbling spring

The bubbling spring point is located on the sole of your foot. It’s the small depression that appears just above the middle of your foot when your curl your toes inward.

To treat insomnia:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent so you can reach your feet with your hands.
  2. Take one foot in your hand and curl your toes.
  3. Feel for the depression on the sole of your foot.
  4. Apply firm pressure and massage this point for a few minutes using circular or up-and-down motion.

Stimulating this pressure point is believed to ground your energy and induce sleep.

4. Inner frontier gate

The inner frontier gate point is found on your inner forearm between two tendons.

To ease insomnia:

  1. Turn your hands over so that your palms are facing up.
  2. Take one hand and count three finger widths down from your wrist crease.
  3. Apply a steady downward pressure between the two tendons in this location.
  4. Use a circular or up-and-down motion to massage the area for four to five seconds.
  5. In addition to helping you sleep, the inner frontier gate point is associated with soothing nausea, stomach pain, and headaches.

5. Wind pool

The wind pool point is located on the back of your neck. You can find it by feeling for the mastoid bone behind your ears and following the groove around to where your neck muscles attach to the skull.

To treat insomnia:

  1. Clasp your hands together and gently open your palms with your fingers interlocked to create a cup shape with your hands.
  2. Use your thumbs to apply a deep and firm pressure toward your skull, using circular or up-and-down movements to massage this area for four to five seconds.
  3. Breathe deeply as you massage the area.
  1. Stimulating this pressure point may help to reduce respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, which often interrupt sleep. It’s also associated with reducing stress and calming the mind.

What does the research say?

Acupressure has been around for thousands of years, but experts only recently started to evaluate its effectiveness as a medical treatment. While most of the existing studies about acupressure and sleep are small, their results are promising.

For example, a 2010 study involved 25 participants in long-term care facilities who had trouble sleeping. Their sleep quality improved after five weeks of acupressure treatment. The benefits lasted for up to two weeks after they stopped receiving treatment.

2011 study involving 45 postmenopausal women with insomnia had similar results after four weeks of treatment.

There are many studies with similar findings, but they’re all relatively small and limited. As a result, experts don’t have enough high-quality data to draw any concrete conclusions.

However, there’s also no evidence that acupressure decreases sleep quality, so it’s certainly worth trying if you’re interested.

When to see a doctor

Sleep is crucial for your physical and mental health.

Regularly not getting enough sleep is linked to a range of health problems, including:

  • weakened immune function
  • weight gain
  • decreased cognitive function

If you have insomnia that lasts for more than a few weeks, make an appointment with your doctor. You may have an underlying condition that needs treatment.

The bottom line

Most people deal with insomnia at some point in their lives. If you’re looking for a natural remedy to improve your sleep, try doing acupressure 15 minutes before going to bed.

Just make sure to rule out any underlying causes of long-term insomnia.

Here’s Why Exercise is Crucial in Preventing, Treating Cancer

Strength training two to three times a week along with aerobic exercise three times a week is recommended for cancer prevention. Getty Images
  • A panel of experts has released guidelines stating that regular exercise can help prevent cancer as well as help people undergoing cancer treatment.
  • The experts recommend 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 3 times a week and strength training 2 to 3 times a week.
  • Experts say exercise can help prevent cancer by reducing inflammation, keeping weight under control, and boosting the immune system.

Kathryn Schmitz is seeking a paradigm shift.

Schmitz, a professor of public health specializing in cancer at Penn State University, thinks the perception of the ties between exercise and cancer is where the perception of the ties between exercise and heart health was decades ago.

Back then, she said, getting a patient out of bed and moving after a heart attack would be criticized. Today, the benefits of exercise to heart health and recovery are well known.

A similar consensus is emerging in the way the medical field thinks about cancer.

The latest sign in that shift came this week, with the publication of new guidelines that recommend physicians “prescribe” exercise in efforts to reduce the risk of certain cancers and improve the treatment outcomes and quality of life of those with the disease.

“Today if you asked someone with a dad with colon cancer if he should be exercising they’d probably either say no or they don’t know,” Schmitz told Healthline.

Schmitz co-chaired the roundtable — which included experts from the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Cancer Society, and 15 other groups — that put together the new guidance.

The gist of the guidance, published in three papers this week, is that exercise can contribute to the prevention of bladder, breast, colon, esophagus, kidney, stomach, and uterine cancer.

The guidelines also state exercise can help improve survival rates for people with breast, colon, and prostate cancer — as well as the quality of life of those people in terms of reducing side effects of cancer treatment.

How much exercise?

The researchers recommend that people with cancer do 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity 3 times a week and strength training such as weights 2 to 3 times a week.

Schmitz said originally the researchers looking into that question sought to find out if there were specific “doses” of exercise that could be tailored to different people with cancer.

But the 30 minutes 3 times a week recommendation seemed to work pretty universally.

They still ended up with their goal of being able to “prescribe exercise like a drug,” Schmitz said. “Just turns out that it’s, say, 600 milligrams for everybody, if you will.”

In terms of cancer prevention, the recommended general physical activity guidelines are at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week.

Schmitz says getting more tailored recommendations for cancer prevention is one of the remaining open questions that ongoing research hopes to help answer.

“We don’t know the exact, optimal dose of exercise needed for cancer prevention,” Alpa Patel, the American Cancer Society’s senior scientific director for epidemiology research, told Healthline. “But we know from the evidence to date that the more you do the better.”

Why exercise works

Patel, lead author of the paper that covered the prevention aspects of the new guidance, said how exactly exercise affects cancer prevention is severalfold.

That includes exercise’s effects on reducing inflammation, helping regulate blood sugar and sex hormones, and improving metabolism and immune function.

“Depending on the specific cancer, one or more of those mechanisms may be more important than the others,” he said. “So, for breast cancer, the benefits of exercise are really driven through the impact on sex hormones.”

“It can also affect cancer development or risk through reducing obesity, a risk factor for many cancers,” said Dr. Crystal Denlinger, an oncologist at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia and chair of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s panel on survivorship guidelines.

She told Healthline that the exact reasons why exercise affects certain cancers in different ways still needs additional research.

The current recommendations do vary a bit based on personal history, Denlinger noted. But, she said, “at this time, there is no one ‘best’ exercise — anything that gets you moving and active is good.”

She said further trials are under way to evaluate how and when exercise can affect cancer treatment.

The effort underway for Schmitz — through an initiative she started at the American College of Sports Medicine — is pushing to get oncologists to assess and advise cancer patients’ physical activity.

“This is an easy, cheap way to give patients less fatigue and a better quality of life,” she said.

15 Helpful Tips to Overcome Binge Eating

Binge eating disorder (BED) is considered the most common feeding and eating disorder in the United States (1).

BED is about more than food, it’s a recognized psychological condition. That means people with the disorder will likely need a treatment plan designed by a medical professional to overcome it.People who are diagnosed with BED experience episodes of eating unusually large amounts, even when they’re not hungry. After an episode, they may feel a strong sense of guilt or shame.

Regular binge episodes can lead to weight gain, which can contribute to health conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

Fortunately, there are plenty of strategies you can try — both at home and with the help of a professional — to reduce episodes of binge eating.

Here are 15 tips to help overcome binge eating.

1. Ditch the diet

Fad diets can often be very unhealthy, and studies show that overly restrictive eating methods may trigger episodes of binge eating.

For example, one study in 496 adolescent girls found that fasting was associated with a higher risk of binge eating (2).

Similarly, another study in 103 women noticed that abstaining from certain foods resulted in increased cravings and a higher risk of overeating (3).

Instead of following diets that focus on cutting out entire food groups or significantly slashing calorie intake to lose weight quickly, focus on making healthy changes.

Eat more whole, unprocessed foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and moderate your intake of treats rather than excluding them from your diet altogether. This can help reduce binge eating and promote better health.

SUMMARYStudies show that fasting or eliminating certain foods from your diet may be associated with increased cravings and overeating. Focus on eating healthy foods instead of dieting or cutting out certain foods completely.

2. Avoid skipping meals

Setting a regular eating schedule and sticking to it is one of the most effective ways to overcome binge eating.

Skipping meals can contribute to cravings and increase the risk of overeating.

One small, 2-month study showed that eating one large meal per day increased levels of blood sugar and the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin to a greater extent than eating three meals per day (4).

Another study in 38 people found that adhering to a regular eating pattern was associated with a decreased frequency of binge eating (5).

Try setting a regular eating schedule and sticking to it.

SUMMARYAdhering to a regular eating pattern can reduce the risk of overeating and may be associated with lower levels of ghrelin and fasting blood sugar.

3. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is a practice that involves listening to your body and paying attention to how you feel at the moment.

This technique can prevent overeating by helping a person learn to recognize when they no longer feel hungry.

One review of 14 studies found that practicing mindfulness meditation decreased the incidence of binge eating and emotional eating (6).

Another small study showed that combining mindfulness with cognitive behavioral therapy may improve eating behavior and self-awareness (7).

Try listening to your body to recognize when hunger tapers off. Additionally, try to eat slowly and enjoy food to promote healthy eating behaviors.

SUMMARYPracticing mindfulness can help you recognize when you’re no longer hungry, which can improve your eating behaviors and reduce the incidence of binge eating.

4. Stay hydrated

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is a simple yet effective way to curb cravings and stop overeating.

In fact, studies show that increasing water intake could be linked to decreased hunger and calorie intake.

For example, one study in 24 older adults found that drinking 17 ounces (500 ml) of water before eating a meal decreased the number of calories consumed by 13%, compared with a control group (8).

Similarly, another study in older adults showed that drinking 13–17 ounces (375–500 ml) of water 30 minutes before a meal significantly decreased hunger and calorie intake while increasing feelings of fullness during the day (9).

Other studies indicate that drinking more water can boost metabolism and weight loss (1011).

The amount of water each person should drink daily depends on various factors. Thus, it’s best to listen to your body and drink when you feel thirsty to ensure you’re staying well hydrated.

SUMMARYDrinking more water can keep you feeling full to decrease calorie intake and prevent binge eating.

5. Try yoga

Yoga is a practice that incorporates both the body and mind by using specific breathing exercises, poses, and meditation to reduce stress and enhance relaxation.

Studies indicate that yoga can help encourage healthy eating habits and reduce the risk of emotional eating.

One small study in 50 people with BED showed that practicing yoga for 12 weeks led to a significant reduction in binging (12).

Another study in 20 girls found that combining yoga with outpatient eating disorder treatment decreased depression, anxiety, and body image disturbances — all of which could be factors involved in emotional eating (13).

Research also shows that yoga can decrease levels of stress hormones like cortisol to keep stress under control and prevent binge eating (1415).

Try joining a local yoga studio to start adding this type of exercise to your routine. You can also use online resources and videos to practice at home.

SUMMARYYoga can help prevent binge eating and may reduce common triggers like stress, depression, and anxiety.

6. Eat more fiber

Fiber moves slowly through your digestive tract, keeping you feeling full longer (16).

Some research suggests that increasing fiber intake could cut cravings, reduce appetite, and food intake.

One small, 2-week study found that supplementing twice daily with a type of fiber found in vegetables decreased hunger and calorie intake while increasing fullness (17).

Another study in 10 adults showed that taking 16 grams of prebiotic fiber daily increased levels of specific hormones that influence satiety and significantly reduced feelings of hunger (18).

Fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains are just a few fiber-rich foods that can keep you feeling full.

SUMMARYFiber can help keep you feeling full to reduce calorie intake and feelings of hunger.

7. Clean out the kitchen

Having lots of junk food or trigger foods in the kitchen can make it much easier to binge eat.

Conversely, keeping healthy foods on hand can reduce your risk of emotional eating by limiting the number of unhealthy options.

Start by clearing out processed snack foods like chips, candies, and pre-packaged convenience foods and swapping them for healthier alternatives.

Stocking your kitchen with fruits, vegetables, protein-rich foods, whole grains, nuts, and seeds can improve your diet and reduce your risk of binge eating unhealthy foods.

SUMMARYRemoving unhealthy foods from your kitchen and stocking up on healthy alternatives can improve diet quality and make it harder to binge eat.

8. Start hitting the gym

Studies indicate that adding exercise to your routine could prevent binge eating.

For instance, one 6-month study in 77 people showed that increasing weekly exercise frequency stopped binge eating in 81% of participants (19).

Another study in 84 women found that pairing cognitive behavioral therapy with regular exercise was significantly more effective at reducing the frequency of binge eating than therapy alone (20).

Plus, other research suggests that exercise can decrease stress levels and enhance mood to prevent emotional eating (21).

Walking, running, swimming, biking, and playing sports are just a few different forms of physical activity that can help relieve stress and reduce binge eating.

SUMMARYStudies show that exercising can reduce the risk of binge eating and decrease stress levels.

9. Eat breakfast every day

Starting each day off with a healthy breakfast might reduce the risk of binge eating later in the day.

Several studies have found that maintaining a regular eating pattern is associated with less binge eating and lower levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates feelings of hunger (45).

Plus, filling up on the right foods can keep you feeling full to curb cravings and reduce hunger throughout the day.

For example, one study in 15 people found that eating a high-protein breakfast reduced levels of ghrelin to a greater extent than eating a high carb breakfast (22).

Meanwhile, eating fiber- and protein-rich oatmeal was shown to improve appetite control and promote fullness in another study in 48 people (23).

Try combining a few fiber-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, or whole grains, with a good source of protein to avoid overeating.

SUMMARYEating a fiber- and protein-rich breakfast can prevent cravings and keep you satisfied throughout the morning.

10. Get enough sleep

Sleep affects your hunger levels and appetite, and sleep deprivation may be linked to binge eating.

In fact, one study in 146 people found that those with BED reported significantly more symptoms of insomnia than people without a history of this condition (24).

Another large study showed that shorter sleep duration was associated with higher levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and lower levels of leptin — the hormone responsible for promoting fullness.

Additionally, sleeping less than 8 hours per night was linked to higher body weight (25).

Aim to squeeze in at least 8 hours per night to keep your appetite in check and reduce your risk of binge eating.

SUMMARYBED may be linked to increased symptoms of insomnia. Sleep deprivation has been shown to alter the levels of hormones that affect hunger and appetite.

11. Keep a food and mood journal

Keeping a food and mood journal that tracks what you eat and how you feel can be an effective tool. It can help identify potential emotional and food triggers and promote healthier eating habits.

One study in 17 people showed that using an online self-help program that involved keeping a food diary was associated with fewer self-reported episodes of binge eating (26).

Several other studies also suggest that tracking your intake may be linked to increased weight loss and aid long-term weight management (272829).

To get started, simply start recording what you eat and how you feel each day using either a journal or app.

SUMMARYFood and mood journals can help identify triggers to address potential problems. Studies show that using a food diary is associated with fewer episodes of binge eating, as well as increased weight loss.

12. Find someone to talk to

Talking to a friend or peer when you feel like binging may help reduce your likelihood of overeating.

One study in 101 adolescents undergoing sleeve gastrectomy showed that reliable social support was associated with less binge eating (30).

Another study in 125 women with obesity found that better social support was linked to decreased binge eating severity (31).

A good social support system is thought to reduce the impact of stress, which may help decrease your risk of other coping habits like emotional eating (3233).

Next time you feel like binge eating, pick up the phone and call a trusted friend or family member. If you don’t have someone to talk to, eating disorder helplines are available free of charge.

SUMMARYA good social support system may be linked to decreased binge eating and stress.

13. Increase your protein intake

Upping your intake of protein-rich foods can keep you feeling full and help control your appetite.

One study in 19 people showed that increasing protein intake from 15% to 30% led to significant reductions in body weight and fat mass, as well as decreased daily calorie intake by an average of 441 calories (34).

Similarly, another study found that following a high-protein diet enhanced metabolism, promoted feelings of fullness, and increased levels of glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), a hormone known for its ability to suppress appetite (35).

Try including at least one good source of protein — such as meat, eggs, nuts, seeds, or legumes — in each meal and enjoy high-protein snacks when you feel hungry to keep cravings at bay.

SUMMARYIncreasing your protein intake has been shown to decrease calorie intake, enhance feelings of fullness, and increase levels of GLP-1, a hormone that can help suppress appetite.

14. Plan meals

Planning meals can help ensure that you have healthy ingredients on hand to prepare nutritious meals. Also, measuring out portion sizes and putting the remainder of food away may help you avoid triggering a binge.

In fact, one study in over 40,000 adults showed that meal planning was associated with improvements in diet quality and variety, as well as a lower risk of obesity (36).

Meal planning also makes it easier to stick to a regular eating pattern, which has been linked to a decreased frequency of binge eating (5).

Set aside an hour or two each week to plan out a weekly rotation for your meals.

SUMMARYMeal planning has been associated with improvements in diet quality and variety. It can also make sticking to a regular eating pattern easier and ensure that you have healthy ingredients on hand at all times.

15. Seek help

While the strategies above can be helpful, oftentimes a treatment plan designed by a professional is needed to help overcome binging.

Treatment for BED can involve different types of therapy or medications to help get binging under control and treat any underlying causes or symptoms.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, the most effective form of therapy, explores the connection between your thoughts, feelings, and eating patterns and then develops strategies to modify your behavior (37).

Other types of therapy used to treat binge eating include dialectical behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, and behavioral weight loss therapy (37).

Antidepressants, antiepileptic drugs, and certain stimulants are also sometimes used to treat BED, though more research is needed to evaluate the long-term effects of these medications (3839).

SUMMARYCognitive behavioral therapy is considered an effective treatment method for binge eating. Other types of therapy and certain medications can also be used.

The bottom line

BED is a recognized psychological condition that affects millions of people around the world.

However, it’s possible to overcome it with the right treatment plan and healthy lifestyle modifications.