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Boosting your body’s magnesium levels through diet, supplements and Epsom salt baths can help relieve holiday stress and promote muscle recovery after New Year’s workout resolutions, says acclaimed Atlanta physician Dr. Bindiya Gandhi.
As many as 68 percent of Americans don’t get enough magnesium, according to a recent study, and for many, it worsens during the holidays. That’s because stress depletes magnesium levels, and between the long to-do lists and the high rates of the cold and flu, December can be hectic. Dr. Gandhi says restoring your body’s magnesium levels can combat the negative effects.
“Studies show taking magnesium at night not only helps alleviate anxiety, but helps you get a better night’s rest,” said Gandhi, who is often quoted in publications, such as Reader’s Digest and mindbodygreen. “Magnesium has a relaxing effect and helps convert tryptophan to serotonin, which is why it helps with anxiety.”
Gandhi suggests people boost their magnesium levels by soaking in Epsom salt, which is actually magnesium sulfate, or taking magnesium supplements orally. She also suggests bolstering your diet with foods rich in magnesium, including nuts, seeds, chocolate, tofu, beans, avocados, bananas, figs and green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach.
“Whatever you do, it’s important to keep [magnesium] levels optimal so you can feel better and perform at your best,” said Gandhi.
Gandhi is boarded by both the American Board Family Medicine and the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Physicians. She’s also a certified yoga instructor and reiki master, a Japanese technique for stress reduction that also promotes healing.
“Stress can be seen in many forms, including irritability, feeling overwhelmed, symptoms of sadness, teary eyes, heart palpation, headaches, stomach upset and more. It’s different for different people,” said Gandhi.
Besides magnesium, she recommends meditation and breathing techniques to help cope with stress. One of her go-to routines is Dr. Andrew Weil’s “4-7-8 Breath” because she says it is easy to follow.
“We can’t always change our stress in life,” Gandhi says, “but we can learn to change how we react to it.”
Increasing your body’s magnesium levels can also help jump start your New Year’s fitness resolutions. Gandhi says people starting new workout routines, especially high-endurance workouts, could recover faster with Epsom salt baths and other forms of magnesium.
“With exertion and excess sweating, you naturally lose electrolytes,” said Gandhi. “Magnesium is a common mineral that is lost with sweat, causing cramping as a side effect. Magnesium is great for helping to alleviate sore, fatigued muscles.”
In addition to helping soothe sore muscles, Gandhi says magnesium can help balance blood glucose levels and decrease bloating by promoting healthy elimination and natural detoxing.