This might sound a little crazy... But did you know there's research that suggests your HAIR can actually predict whether or not your heart is headed for disaster?
Let me explain... We all know that stress is bad for us. And during times of stress, our bodies release cortisol (the "stress" hormone).
Now, cortisol is a bit funny. That's because too little of it is bad for you. Yet, too much is also VERY bad.
Unfortunately, because of our busy lives and the way our society is structured, it can be hard NOT to feel stressed out all the time.
This is not good at ALL for your health. Chronic stress has been linked to numerous health problems including heart attack and stroke.
That's why researchers at The University of Western Ontario set out to discover a way to measure your "accumulated" stress levels... as a way to predict a future event, like heart attack.
Currently, you CAN get your stress (cortisol) levels checked. The only problem is that it only represents your cortisol levels on the day of testing. This means you can't see how much TOTAL stress you've been under, say, in the last 3 months. That's why this research is so exciting.
For this study, published in the journal Stress, researchers recruited 112 participants who were already hospitalized.
56 of the subjects were in the hospital due to heart attack.
56 of subjects in the control group were hospitalized for reasons other than heart attack.
The researchers then collected a 3cm-long hair sample from everyone in each group. Cortisol levels in the hair were then measured.
The study accounted for known heart-attack risk factors (i.e. diabetes, high-cholesterol, triglycerides, etc) in all the subjects. Despite this, accumulated cortisol levels in the hair emerged as the strongest predictor of heart attack. 
"Intuitively we know stress is not good for you, but it's not easy to measure. We know that on average, hair grows one centimetre (cm) a month, and so if we take a hair sample six cm long, we can determine stress levels for six months by measuring the cortisol level in the hair, " explained Dr. Gideon Koren, one of the senior researchers involved in the study.
He added, "Stress is a serious part of modern life affecting many areas of health and life. This study has implications for research and for practice, as stress can be managed with lifestyle changes..."
Pretty interesting, wouldn't you say?
The point of the story: Do whatever you can on a regular basis to reduce your stress levels. Your health (and your heart) will thank you.
The first thing in ANY stress-reduction program is to exercise. It's a great stress-reliever. Once you've got that down, here are a few more things that can help:
Vitamin C: In addition to being a great immune system booster, it turns out vitamin C can also help reduce your cortisol levels. One study published in the journal Psychopharmacology recruited 120 volunteers who were subjected to the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST). It's a test commonly used to measure psychological stress. Those who took vitamin C had lower blood pressure, less subjective stress, and decreased cortisol levels than the placebo group. 
Breathe: Deep breathing is very effective at calming you down and lowering your heart rate and blood pressure. Whenever you're feeling anxious or totally stressed, take a few minutes to breathe. Make sure you inhale deeply, into your belly. Then hold it for a second or two. Then slowly exhale. Do this 5-10 times and you'll immediately start to feel calmer.
Fish Oil: This amazing nutrient seems to do it all... protect your heart, your brain, reduce inflammation, and on and on... But one interesting 2003 study also found that as little as 7-8 grams of fish oil daily can be effective at reducing high cortisol levels due to mental stress. 
So there you have it.
And with what remains of the holiday season, make sure to take a few minutes each day to "stop and smell the roses."
Obviously, being stressed out all the time is not good for you.
So it's absolutely critical that you make de-stressing a priority in your life.
And by the way ... if you're serious about taking your health and fitness to the next level for this coming New Year, why not take advantage of your FREE "Let's Talk Strategy" Fitness Consultation? (an $90 value)
During this consult, you'll receive detailed information on how to get fit and trim that's tailored to YOUR body.
There's no obligation and it's totally and completely free. To sign up, click here
References: 1. David Pereg, Rachel Gow, Morris Mosseri, Michael Lishner, Michael Rieder, Stan Van Uum, Gideon Koren. Hair cortisol and the risk for acute myocardial infarction in adult men. Stress The International Journal on the Biology of Stress, 2010; 100902220954013 DOI: 10.3109/10253890.2010.511352 2. Brody S, Preut R, Schommer K, Schurmeyer TH. A randomized controlled trial of high dose ascorbic acid for reduction of blood pressure, cortisol, and subjective responses to psychological stress. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2002 Jan;159(3):319-24. 3. Delarue J, Matzinger O, Binnert C, Schneeiter P, Chiolero P, Tappy L. Fish oil prevents the adrenal activation elicited by mental stress in healthy men. Diabetes Metab. 2003 Jun;29(3):289-95.