The thrill of being chill

Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at 6:17 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at 6:17 p.m.

When Dr. David Banner got mad, his body transformed into the Incredible Hulk. The effect of stress on your body might not be so obvious, but chronic tension is an inflammation trigger that contributes to cancer, cardio and gut problems, and skin disruptions, and it amps up tension in relationships at work and home.

Now we find out stress actually can alter your genes, and that can set off a series of reactions that end up interfering with oxytocin — the stress-busting, love, sex and bonding hormone. So, here's our stress-relief, oxytocin-boosting plan:

1. Meditate 10 minutes twice a day (morning and evening), every day, no excuses. Yogic deep breathing, mindfulness or progressive relaxation will work. (Check RealAge.com for instructions.)

2. Get touched. A massage, a cuddle-fest or intimacy with your partner is a primo way to stimulate this big O — and we're not talking orgasm, but oxytocin (although raising that hormone level may help you achieve the other one)!

3. Eat to relax. High in saturated fat, processed foods stress your body. So indulge in the odd omega's (3 from salmon, 9 from olive oil), fiber- and nutrient-rich veggies, fruit and grains and plenty of water.

4. Get smarter! New info reveals that brain neurons generated through exercise are built to withstand stress better than brain cells that have lived in a couch-potato environment. Start walking at least 30 minutes a day, with a goal of 10,000 steps a day. The more you move, the better equipped you'll be to stroll right by a lot of life's stressers.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Medical Officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.RealAge.com.

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