Stressed Out? How To Deal With It… The Right Way!

We all know what stress is and that it’s bad for us… or do we really? Sure, we’ve heard it can harm our health and that we should practice deep breathing, yoga or meditation. But of course it goes far deeper than that.

Let’s take a closer look at this potent word, especially because April is the 25th anniversary of National Stress Awareness Month (started by The Health Resource Network, Inc., a non-profit health education organization).

What Is Stress Exactly?

Anything that poses a challenge or a threat to our well-being is a stress, according to Medical News Today.1 When we are overwhelmed and don’t think we can handle the pressure, we say, “I’m stressed.”

Stress is the way our brain and body respond to demand, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).2 It’s how people cope with stress or recover from stressful events that can make it harmful or not. Your physiological state is affected when faced with stress. We’ve all heard of the “fight or flight syndrome.” The fight part is your body’s sympathetic nervous system reacting to a stressful event and it activates resources to protect you by either getting you away quickly or fighting, as per the NIMH.3 At this point, larger quantities of “the chemicals cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline are produced, which in turn trigger a higher heart rate, heightened muscle preparedness, sweating and alertness.”4

It’s Our Response to Stress that Matters

People will feel a demanding situation is stressful if they think they cannot effectively handle it. When trying to manage stress, “It is important to learn that what matters more than the event itself is usually our thoughts about the event. How you see that stressful event will be the largest single factor that impacts your physical and mental health”, states the NIMH.5

So What Happens to Our Health?

Health problems can occur if the stress response goes on for too long, becomes chronic or if the stress response continues after the danger has subsided. Chronic stress can suppress immune, digestive, sleep and reproductive systems. People under chronic stress are prone to more frequent and severe viral infections as well.7

Routine stress may be the hardest type of stress to notice because the body gets no clear signal to return to normal functioning.8 Over time, continued strain on the body may contribute to serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and other illnesses as well as mental health problems like depression or anxiety.9

Combatting the Toll of Stress

“When stress starts to turn chronic you have to fall back on essential health basics, like good sleep, exercise and diet, to keep the body and mind strong,” says Brent Agin, M.D., CEO, Trim Nutrition and member of MONAT’s Scientific Advisory Board. “Too many times people get out of their routine, which is the key to stress management. They either will not eat or will overeat, stop exercising and often find they’re experiencing interrupted sleep. All these factors compound the effects of stress on the body. You don’t want your body to get out of control since that will quickly affect your mind as well and you can find yourself in an even tougher emotional spot.” Dr. Agin emphasizes that if stress becomes too overbearing, despite maintaining a healthy lifestyle, one should seek medical help.

Dr. Agin says there’s always time to exercise even if you work a full 12-hour day. He reminds us that it only takes 30 minutes to effectively exercise if using a proper routine. Plus, you only need to exercise three or four days a week to get benefit. “Sometimes just putting headphones on and taking a short walk can help reduce stress and allow mental breaks,” he adds.


Brent Agin, M.D., CEO, Trim Nutrition
MONAT Global Scientific Advisory Board Member

Eating properly goes a long way toward minimizing the effects of stress. “It goes back to the cliché ‘You are what you eat.’ You need to eat a balanced diet of good fats, protein and healthy carbs,” Dr. Agin explains. “During times of stress, your body needs fuel. It’s critical to be on an anti-inflammatory diet that will fuel the body and not exacerbate the stress and inflammation that chronic stress can create.

“In addition, tart cherry, GABA, B vitamins, magnesium, theanine and taurine are supplements that have been proven to help your body better deal with stress,” Dr. Agin adds.

Be careful not to wear out your friends with complaining. It can get to the point where they can’t listen anymore. In that case, Dr. Agin advises finding personal time to think through your problems. Walk, swim, bike or just walk your dog. This gives you time to process and figure out possible solutions to your issues. Then you can talk to your friends about potential solutions rather than ranting on about problems which, in turn, encourages collaboration.

Stress certainly is not fun and can be harmful. But there are ways you can handle it better. And sometimes, according to the Mayo Clinic, simply accepting what is and adapting to it is the best answer.10

1 Nordqvist, Christian. What Is Stress? How To Deal With Stress? Medical News Today. December 14, 2015.
2 Health & Education. 5 Things You Should Know About Stress. National Institute of Mental Health.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid.
5 Ibid.
6 Nordqvist, Op. cit.
7 Ibid.
8 Ibid.
9 Ibid.
10 Mayo Clinic Staff. Healthy Lifestyle. Stress management.

Quality Counts, Especially In Your Hair Products

Ever open a bottle of shampoo and get a funky smell? While you may be getting bang for your buck when it comes to quantity, do you know for sure that you’re getting a quality-grade product? In fact, it’s hard to impossible to know because a major part of haircare product development is in the testing, which companies don’t disclose on their packaging or websites. Testing multiple times from the design phase to when the products ship out is critical.

“First, a brand’s Quality Control (QC) team should test the purity of the water, which is the number one ingredient in most hair products, and the raw materials,” says Joanne Dillon, Director, Quality Control, B&R Products Inc., MONAT’s Manufacturing Facility. “Naturally sourced materials can vary by their location of origin and are subject to changes in the environment. It’s up to the QC team to ensure that variations are minimized so they do not affect product performance.”


Who would think that packaging materials play a really key role? QC must test the packages to verify that they will perform properly for the customer, including testing for cap tightness, weights and seals.

“Then there is batch testing,” Joanne continues. “Once a batch is made, QC needs to confirm that each one conforms to the product specifications to maintain consistency from batch to batch and bottle to bottle.”

Another essential test QC performs is stability. Stability testing is done to simulate the temperature that the product is transported and stored in before it reaches the customer. QC looks for changes over time during freeze/thaw, heat and light exposure testing. “Stability is a test of how the formula and/or package will tolerate those conditions over time based on that design,” Joanne explains. “These tests allow us to look at concerns with the package or formula design as a whole.

“With MONAT Global products, rest assured that all these tests are rigorously performed to guarantee that customers are provided with the purest and highest quality products,” she emphasizes.


MONAT even goes one step further. Testing is performed four – FOUR! – times during the entire product development and manufacturing process to ensure the highest quality. Products are tested in the raw material phase, the bulk batch phase, the filling phase and the final package phase. Some of this testing includes pH, moisture, viscosity, spray patterns, specific gravity, microbiological counts, weights and appearance, among other characteristics.

In sum? When you purchase MONAT, you can be confident you’re getting the very, very best. And who doesn’t want that for what is often one’s most prized possession – their hair?


That Cup of Java – Good or Bad For You?

Coffee, latte and espresso lovers beware! March is National Caffeine Awareness month and a lot of information about the evils of caffeine will likely appear.

But is caffeine really so bad? There are so many myths about its ill effects versus its benefits that it can be really hard to figure out the bottom line. Can you safely enjoy your morning cup (or cups) of Joe… or not?

Well, it depends on how much caffeine you really drink. Says Brent Agin, M.D., member of MONAT’s Scientific Advisory Board and wellness physician, “Staying under 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day, with a goal of 300 mg, is a good target.” The question is – how many mg of caffeine are in a cup of coffee?

Typically, an eight ounce cup contains 55 mg of caffeine.1 However, the Mayo Clinic puts that number at a range of 95 to 200 mg, depending on “various factors, such as roasting and grinding as well as brewing time.” 2 Other things affect caffeine strength too, like the type of coffee beans used and the type of coffee consumed (brewed, espresso, instant and decaf) and serving size. 3

A single shot of espresso, for example, is about 63 mg of caffeine. Double that and it shoots to 125 mg! 4
And remember that caffeine isn’t in just coffee. It’s also in tea, power drinks, soda, cold medications and over-the-counter pain medications, ranging from 16 milligrams to as much as 200 mg.5

So what is all the fuss about anyway?

Well, numerous research sources say that too much caffeine can cause osteoporosis, fast heartbeat, increased anxiety, depression, muscle tremors, heart disease, cancer… the list goes on. But again, it’s those two words – “too much” – that precipitates these research findings. For example, several large studies do not link caffeine to higher cholesterol, irregular heartbeats, or an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.6

The good news is that caffeine, in moderate amounts, has beneficial effects. For example, according to Joan Salge Blake, MS, RDN, LDN, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, coffee’s healthiest perks include increased cognitive function, possible disease protection and also that it acts as a carrier for milk, which adds needed calcium, a mineral lacking in American diets.7

Joy Dubost, PhD, RD, also of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says that, “Coffee provides one of the greatest sources of antioxidants in the American diet, due to the amount of coffee that is consumed.” 8 Since antioxidants can help prevent diseases, that’s a good thing!

Other research shows even more amazing findings. David Elmenhorst, researcher for the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine, says, There is substantial evidence that caffeine is protective against neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease.” 9

“It’s far healthier to use natural caffeine sources such as green tea, Guarana or Yerba Mate”, Dr. Agin emphasizes. It’s also healthier to get caffeine in tea, coffee or supplements that do not have extra sugar or chemicals. Problems with caffeine arise when one drinks too much of it, does not drink adequate water or take other routine supplements for bone support.”

So you can have your java and drink it too… just not too much!


1 Bjarnadottir, A., MS. How Much Caffeine in a Cup of Coffee? A Detailed Guide.
2 Caffeine content for coffee, tea, soda and more. Mayo Clinic Staff. Mayo Clinic.
3 Bjarnadottir, A., MS. Op cit.
4 Ibid.
5 WebMD Medical Reference. Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on April 13, 2015. WebMD.
6 Ibid.
7 Benefits of Java. Reviewed by Wendy Marcason, RD, LDN. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Sept. 29, 2014.
8 Ibid.
9 Olson, Samantha. Health Benefits Of Caffeine: Brain On Caffeine Has Its Positives And Negatives. Medical Daily. May 20, 2014