Get the facts: Know your diets

If you go by the principle that your body is your temple, this should also extend to steering away from fad diets. Trying un-tested diets could leave you with long-term health concerns like, a slower metabolism, high cholesterol, hypertension and could also increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Yet there are also popular diets that have been around for years which could also lead to health problems. Before you try a particular diet you should know all the facts first, in order to make an informed decision.

1. Raw Food Diet:
The theory behind the Raw Food Diet is that cooking destroys the vitamins, enzymes and nutrients in foods. According to the Huffington Post, while this is certainly true for some foods, other foods, like tomatoes actually increase in nutrients once they are cooked. This diet is also very difficult to follow properly. It could lead to malnutrition from lack of nutrient-rich foods if not followed correctly.

healthy food

2. High Fat Diet:
Popular diets like Banting and the Ketogenic Diet advocate for little or no carbohydrates or sugars, adequate proteins and high fats. According to Livestrong, If taken to the extreme, a high-fat diet can result in ketosis, a process in which fats are broken down for energy in the absence of glucose from carbohydrates. Ketosis is a catabolic condition which quickly wastes muscle, slowing your metabolism. A slow metabolism makes it harder to lose weight, undermining your fat loss efforts. However, the most serious concern of high fat diets is the risk of heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, a diet high in saturated fat can dramatically raise your cholesterol, increasing your risk of heart disease.

3. Low Fat Diet:
This may seem contrary to the above, however the thinking behind a low fat diet comes from 90’s trends in nutrition that stated that people should try to eat as little fats as possible, as fat is high in calories. This was interpreted as meaning, as long as you eat very little fats you could make up for it by eating more carbohydrates. This gave rise to an industry of low fat muffins, low fat yoghurts, low fat bagels and fat free milk. Yet according to BBC Good Food, to meet the need for low fat products manufacturers quickly got rid of all traces of animal fats, which were deemed high fat, in food items replacing it with hydrogenated vegetable oil. We now know that these hydrogenated fats increase levels of dangerous trans-fats which are both bad for the heart and our cholesterol. Manufacturers also found they had to increase the amount of sugar in their low fat products so that we continued to enjoy their taste and texture. All of this meant that the typical low fat product tended to be high in carbohydrates, might contain trans-fats and ultimately had a very similar calorie count to the original product.

Dr Richard Malkin, Managing Director of Workforce Healthcare, says there are so many different diets and eating plans for the simple reason that people are different.

“There are probably five different types of morphologies or types of people who respond to a specific type of diet,” he says. “It would be a major breakthrough if there was a marker that identified a person as to the type of diet that suited them. Then a simple test would classify a person as being best suited to a specific type of diet, for example high fat, high carbs, vegetarian etc.”

However, Dr Malkin believes that the biggest contributor to being overweight is a disorganised day.
“If a person got up early enough to eat a proper breakfast, have time to pack a healthy lunch and then eat a light dinner and do 30 minutes of exercise three times a week, they would be leading a healthy life but the pressure of life affects a person’s ability to manage their time well and people miss meals, have massive hunger urges, snack on foods that are high in carbohydrates, get addicted to carbohydrates and for these reasons they put on weight,” he explains.

“Trying to lead an organised life, as far as possible, is the biggest factor in leading a healthy life and preventing most causes of diseases,” Dr Malkin says.

Speaking about the unspoken this Women’s Month

For Women’s Month we celebrate amazing women that are changing the world in positive ways. However, we also need to give thought to the struggles faced by many women in both the home and work life.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), one in three women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence. WHO has found that being victims of physical violence can lead to both short-term as well as long-term health concerns for women. Not only can violence against women lead to injuries but it can have fatal results like homicide or suicide.

Physical and sexual violence can lead to unintended pregnancies, induced abortions, miscarriage, stillbirth, gynaecological problems and sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV.

Women who have been victims of violence are at high risk of becoming depressed and developing post-traumatic stress disorder. WHO found that these women had generally poor health but also frequently experienced illnesses like headaches, back pain, abdominal pain, fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal disorders and limited mobility.

Women can also experience forms of abuse, like bullying, in the workplace. According to  Psychology Today, 34 % of women have reported falling victim to workplace bullying. Women who have experienced bullying in the workplace are at great risk of developing anxiety and depression.

This women’s month, Workforce Healthcare, a specialist health and wellness company whose expertise lie in bringing primary and occupational healthcare directly to the workplace, are trying to address the health problems caused by women abuse by providing support for women in the workplace.

Workforce Healthcare analysed their call centre trends and found that family relationship problems continue to be one of the biggest issues faced by women in the workplace. In July 2016, 21% of all calls placed to the Workforce Healthcare call centre were about family relationship problems.

These problems included domestic violence, emotional and physical abuse, marital problems, divorce, reproductive health as well as children’s behavioural problems.

Workforce Healthcare found that many of the women who faced these problems were often reluctant to seek therapy, mainly because of the myths and misconceptions regarding therapy. Workforce Healthcare runs an Employee Assistance Programme in order to help workers deal with their various concerns, however they have identified that the first step in addressing issues as sensitive as women abuse, is to start with simply talking to female employees about topics that have historically not been talked about.

Dr Richard Malkin, Managing Director of Workforce Healthcare, says that according to a study released by Statistics South Africa in 2015, most households are run by single mothers.

Yet the numbers revealed that 31% of mothers were recorded as being married, meaning that the husband and father of the household was possibly absent from the household and their children’s lives. Furthermore, over 1.1 million births were registered in South Africa in 2015 but 64% of those had no information on the fathers.

“South Africa will never change its attitude to women if we continue to have single parent families, the cycle of abuse will just continue,” Malkin says.

This month, Workforce Healthcare offered clients the option of a ‘Ladies Talk’ Workshop. The workshop aims to help female employees understand the nature of various family relationship problems, equip employees with emotional and legal strategies in dealing with divorce and separation, empower employees with a better understanding of their rights, help employees understand their rights with regards to domestic violence and to explain the function of their 24-hour call centre and how to access it.

By offering discussion around these topics which are often not talked about Workforce Healthcare is hoping to empower female employees, as well as help to improve their morale and job performance.

Common health concerns construction industry

To work in the construction industry one has to be logical, dedicated and have the ability to travel and be away from home frequently. But most of all one needs to be in excellent health to handle the demands of a very physical career.

Dr Richard Malkin, MD of Workforce Healthcare, a specialist health and wellness company that brings health testing, primary and occupational healthcare directly to the workplace, singled out some of the main health concerns people who work in the construction industry should be aware of:

  1. Injuries on the job.

These range from falling from great heights, collapse of excavations and being hit by heavy machinery, thereby twisting of a joint. Dr Malkin explains that construction is a very physically demanding career in which one needs to have good reflexes to prevent injury. However, if injury on the job occurs, it could lead to long-term injury, like chronic back pain, which needs to be managed appropriately. For this, Dr Malkin advises medical examinations that are risk based and job specific ensuring the engineer is fit to work under defined conditions which will reduce risk of getting injured

  1. Exposure to dust on building sites.

Exposure to excessive dust at building sites can lead to long-term respiratory conditions. Dr Malkin advises that annual medical exams in which a lung function test and a chest X-ray is performed is a necessity for those who work at construction sites. An annual check-up will also include risk-based assessments which factor in height and weight, urine test, drug tests, a physical exam, psychometric testing and a hearing test.

  1. Lifestyle diseases

Lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and hypertension are a concern in all workplaces, however considering the stress and physical nature of construction as a career, those who work in the construction industry could be at great risk of developing these types of illnesses. Dr Malkin explains that diabetes and high blood pressure can greatly affect an individual’s fitness levels, which is dangerous for civil engineers as they need to have good physical fitness as a requirement of the job. “It’s important to have regular check-ups so that these lifestyle diseases can be identified, managed with medication and monitored,” Dr Malkin says.

  1. Depression and substance abuse

One of the demands of construction as a career is the ability to be away from home often while visiting building sites and other projects. This could lead to loneliness and feelings of depression. Construction is also a physically demanding career that can be very stressful. Dr Malkin says that anyone and everyone can be affected by substance abuse but added stress, peer pressure and depression can increase an individual’s risk of abusing alcohol or drugs. Dr Malkin advises that workplace awareness programmes can help to educate people in the construction industry as to the dangers of substance abuse, especially in a career that requires an individual to be completely sober and have good reflexes while on the job. However, he says that access to counsellors via 24-hour call centres, such as Workforce Healthcare’s, can provide a very important support system for those struggling with depression and substance abuse.