Cultural Stress on Spectrum News 1, Los Angeles

In this interview with Spectrum News 1, Los Angeles, the hosts and I had a lively discussion about Cultural Stress and what we can do about it.

Some 80% of Americans experience stress at a level that causes physical symptoms—hypertension, weight gain, sleeplessness, inflammation, and more. In fact, researchers are discovering that stress is actually our #1 killer because it underlies or aggravates so many other causes of death, from heart disease to cancer to Alzheimer’s.

It’s not that stress is new. Our ancestors experienced stress, but it was periodic: we broke an arm; lost a loved one to death or divorce; or experienced anxiety before a job interview or performance review.

The difference now, however, is that Cultural Stress is constant, pervasive, increasing, and it’s taking an enormous toll on our health. We’re almost never away from the demands and expectations of others, which come to us through smart phones, computers, tablets, television, and radio. We’re constantly bombarded by media and we spend far too little time in face-to-face interactions with others.

Our lives have also become sedentary. We sit at home and wait for Amazon, Netflix, and Blue Apron to deliver everything from dinner to entertainment. We sit in traffic on our daily commute; then sit in cubicles at work; then sit in front of the television at home. We’re getting far too little exercise.

As a result of these trends, we’re experiencing higher than ever levels of loneliness, isolation, and depression.

What to do about it?

The first step in combating Cultural Stress is to recognize that it exists and that you have to take control of it. Only you can limit your device time; spend more face-to-face time with friends and family; and get some form of regular physical activity—preferably that you enjoy.

Only you can take charge of your diet. My simplest recommendation is “eat your water.” That will keep your cells hydrated and healthy and will steer you in the direction of fresh foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins. Virtually all fresh food contains water—and the water comes with fiber, phytonutrients, antioxidants, and other nutrients that help your body repair itself and maintain optimal health.

Finally, the Spectrum News team wanted to know what I recommended, as a dermatologist, for maintaining a youthful, healthy, stress-free appearance. I told them that the absolute best thing that anyone can do for their appearance is simple:

Wear a smile.


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