The Negative Effects Of Stress
Stress is a normal part of life. Harmless temporary examples include feeling anxiety before a big presentation or experiencing butterflies before a first date. However, when left unmanaged, stress can become harmful and cause various health problems. For example, sustained strain can translate into tension headaches, depression, insomnia, high blood sugar, high blood pressure (BP), and poor reproductive health.
What are omega-3s?
Simply put, omega-3 fatty acids are a type of nutrient essential for the body and naturally found in foods. The fatty acids serve as an energy source for many parts of the body, such as the lungs, blood vessels, and heart. Omega-3s can also bolster the immune system, help to ease discomfort caused by joint diseases like rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and improve the efficacy of some anti-inflammatory drugs. This important nutrient is naturally found in oily fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna but can also be taken in supplement form.
Omega-3s and high BP
Research shows that consuming omega-3s regularly can lower the risk of high blood pressure by reducing triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are a type of blood fat that, if left at elevated levels, can increase a person’s risk of developing heart disease or suffering from a stroke. When stress leads to high BP, a doctor may recommend fish oil to help.
Omega-3s and cortisol
A recent study followed 138 participants that were categorized as overweight and who lived relatively sedentary lifestyles. During the research period, participants were put into 3 groups, 2 that were given different amounts of fish oil supplements before undergoing a stress test, and 1 group that received a placebo. Respondents were tested before and after the stressor to measure cortisol or stress levels. Ultimately, the 2 fish oil supplement groups exhibited a reduction in measured cortisol while the placebo group did not.
Fish oil to prevent stress
While research suggests that taking omega-3s can aid in reducing the body’s response to and recovery from a stressful event, experts aren’t ready to encourage people to take fish oil supplements as a preventative measure. In general, striving to achieve nutritional balance through a healthy diet is always preferable to taking a supplement. People concerned that stress might be impacting health should speak with a physician and potentially begin cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to learn healthier management techniques.
Decrease stress to improve health
Stress can be debilitating to overall physical health if left untreated. In particular, sustained cortisol levels have been linked with an increased risk of being diagnosed with depression, which severely impacts the quality of life. Although the research isn’t conclusive, omega-3s may positively impact cortisol levels. Speak with a pharmacist or healthcare provider to determine if a fish oil supplement is worth adding to a daily routine.