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Stress Strategy: How to Use Stress to Your Advantage (Ep. 119)

The College Info Geek PodcastDid you know that broccoli is actually toxic?

It’s true; every time you eat one of those delicious little trees, you’re subjecting your body to a small amount of toxicity. Oddly enough, though, that’s a good thing. It’s one of the reasons that broccoli is a “healthy” food.

You see, our bodies and minds have adapted to the harsh conditions of this world in such as a way that they actually improve when subjected to stress. That’s right – stress can be a good thing.

In the case of our toxic broccoli, the cells in your body experience stress in response to the chemicals it contains. This stress response ends up bolstering the cells – as long as the stress load isn’t too high and there’s time for recovery.

Mark Mattson, the chief of the neurosciences lab at the National Institute of Aging, explains this phenomenon in Dr. John Ratey’s book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain:

“Many of the beneficial chemicals in plans – vegetables and fruits – have evolved as toxins to dissuade insects and other animals from eating them. What they’re doing is inducing a mild, adaptive stress response in the cells. For example, in broccoli, there’s a chemical called sulforaphane, and it clearly activates stress response pathways in cells that upregulate antioxidant enzymes. Broccoli has antioxidants, but at the level you could get from your diet, they’re not going to function as antioxidants.”

Unfortunately, stress usually gets a bad rap in the press – undeservedly so. Stress itself isn’t bad – it’s chronic stress that should be avoided. Stress that persists for a long period of time is what can cause a lot of problems.

So in this episode, Martin and I will do our best to break down stress. Specifically, we’ll tackle:

  • The biology of stress
  • The negative effects of chronic stress
  • 10 things you can do to mitigate bad stress
  • How you can use stress to your advantage


Things mentioned in this episode:

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Stress Strategy: How to Use Stress to Your Advantage