High Stress Jobs May Not Be As Unhealthy as You Think

High demand jobs can certainly cause stress, which can eventually lead to poor health, chronic illness, and even early death. A new study, however, reveals how the concept of “control” may improve your health, even in a high-stress position.

Organizational Behavior

According to the results of a seven-year study, health and mortality are not necessarily linked to a high-demand job. It’s the level of control the employee has (or even perceives she has) that shifts the pendulum.

A worker experiences greater stress and unhappiness when a manager assumes all control. People (employees) want to feel they are part of their activity; they can’t thrive in an environment when someone else makes all the decisions for them.

The Study’s Findings

The researchers at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business discovered some interesting results from their study. They found that those in high-stress jobs with little or no control die younger than those who have some or a lot of control.

“A lot of control” doesn’t mean not having a boss or anyone to be accountable to. It means something as simple as, for example, making your own schedule. Being part of how to set goals and accomplish tasks in the workplace is part of having control. These types of freedoms on the job are empowering to workers.

Good Stress

In fact, a useful and positive observed result was that those in high-demand positions, who also had high-control, actually flourished. Erik Gonzales Mule was the study’s lead author. He suggested that having more control can motivate workers and can breed better health. Mule points out an example: “…having pressure to work fast and use intense concentration, may result in feelings of accomplishment and mastery.”

The study included 2,400 people (half men/half women) and tracked their health for over seven years. Those in high-demand jobs with low control fared the worst. Those in high-stress positions but with high control decreased their chances of earlier death by 34%.

Job Satisfaction

How we perceive our work and workplace definitely affects our overall well-being. If we’re unhappy for the largest portion of our day, behaviors may emerge to mask the bad feelings. This can result in poor diet or overeating, alcohol or drug abuse, etc. Or, the stress can lead to depression, high blood pressure, etc.

So, perhaps it’s not literally “the job.” Maybe it’s how we are allowed to do our job. Having more control can lend to employee feelings of empowerment. Morale at work can be boosted. Instead of seeing work as “hard”, when given the freedom to participate, the work can then be seen as challenging or an opportunity to problem-solve. Those are far more positive outlooks and approaches to doing one’s job.

Personal Stress Management

When you’re at work and finding yourself too stressed out, you can always take a moment for some deep breaths, a quick walk (even around the desk), or a break outdoors. But in addition to your honed coping skills, perhaps think about your company, boss, or management. Do you feel you have low control? If so, perhaps some suggestions to human resources could affect positive change for you and your workplace.

After all, feeling good about your work—whether it pays well, is rewarding spiritually, or makes you feel like you are contributing and/or you’re appreciated—any positive feelings will be part of your best health regimen.

 

 

Foods that Fool-Popular Unhealthy Choices

3 Popular “Good” Foods that are Really Unhealthy

Popular healthy food choices that consumers are easily fooled by. Because of marketing, we’ve been brainwashed to believe there are certain foods that are “good” for us—but they’re not. There may be an ingredient in the title that’s good. But don’t be tricked by the other words on the label that may actually be unhealthy.

1) Gluten-Free Junk Food

According to 2013 survey, about a third of people in the US are actively trying to avoid gluten. Ironically, only a teeny, tiny percentage (1-3%) has Celiac, a debilitating disease when the person is exposed to gluten. But, even if you are non-Celiac, avoiding gluten can be a good thing. Gluten and wheat ingestion have been linked to gut inflammation as well as increased risk for autoimmune disorders. Brain fog and fatigue are also connected to gluten sensitivity.

Gluten free can be beneficial, as long as it’s not replaced with unhealthy ingredients such as sugar, corn syrup, and unnatural preservatives. For example, a generic “gluten-free” granola bar may contain tapioca starch, processed sugar, food dye, and “flavoring.” Junk food is bad, whether it’s gluten-free or not.

2) Popcorn (Microwavable or Flavored From a Bag)

The actual bag from many microwavable popcorn products is lined with a toxic chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA.) Unhealthy ingredients often listed on the poppable packages are hydrogenated oils, natural butter “flavor”, trans fats, and GMOs.

Already-popped popcorn purchased in a bag at your market may also have some of those bad words listed. Also, keep in mind, if it doesn’t say organic, it can be bad for your health. Conventionally grown corn is genetically engineered and generally has pesticide or other toxic residues on it. For those with blood sugar issues beware of Malodextrin—a highly processed starch (an engineered carbohydrate.)

Dry popcorn kernels heated in a pot on the stove using coconut oil is excellent. You can also dry air-pop and then add a bit of room-temperature extra-virgin olive oil. Both are good topped with a dash of sea salt.

3) Yogurt (Low-fat or Nonfat)

Many yogurts at the store are bad for you. The low-fat and non-fat versions remove the natural “dairy” fat. They’re often replaced with modified cornstarch or fructose to add to taste. The majority of calories actually come from sugar. Because these yogurts are pasteurized after fermentation, they either contain little or no active cultures. And forget the squeezy yogurts out of the tube; they are the worst.

Whole yogurt that contains live cultures, probiotics, is extremely good for your health. If the milk source is from grass-fed cows, even better. Greek yogurt, which is strained three times instead of two, can be preferred. Although it has more fat content, it has less sugar and more protein. Buy organic.

There are a variety of other favorite food items that purport to be good but miss the mark. Remember to keep your self-informed and read labels. Keeping your and your family’s good health in mind is a constant practice.

 

Breaking Down the Myths of “Unhealthy” Food

Everyday we hear about foods and trends that are supposedly unhealthy for us. Sometimes they are, and other times, it’s simply untrue. Let’s check the facts…

CARBS

Carbs are necessary. They are digested and converted to glucose. The glucose travels though the liver and circulatory system where our cells use it for fuel. If your glucose levels are too low, cells suffer, even those in your brain.

We can only store carbs in limited quantities. The leftovers (that you didn’t burn-off through exercise), turn into fat. That’s where carbs get the “unhealthy” label. Simple solution: Choose the slower-digesting carbs, which generally contain more nutrients and fiber—and keep you feeling fuller longer. Complex-carbs actually help manage your weight.

SOME “GOOD” CARBS:

Apples, Artichokes, Bananas, Beans, Brown rice, Chickpeas, Lentils, Peas, Oats, Soybeans, Sweet potatoes, Tomatoes, Quinoa, Water cress, Whole Grains, Zucchini

BREAD TIP: Eaten in moderation, Sourdough bread is a healthy choice. It contains more of the bacteria Lactobacillus (from the yeast) than in other breads. That means higher production of lactic acid, which allows for better digestion and absorption of minerals. The lactic bacteria produces beneficial compounds such as antioxidants and anti-allergenic substances. It’s theorized that this may help in the treatment of autoimmune diseases.

PROCESSED FOODS

Yes, some processed foods can be extremely unhealthy. The term “processed” means any food that’s been altered from its natural state. So, it depends on the “process” that’s implemented, which will determine if the food turns out to be healthy (or not).

The processed foods we need avoid are the ones that add sugar, salt, fat, or any chemical that’s used for flavoring or as a preservative.

Unhealthy examples: most breakfast cereals, chips, snacks, meats, bacon, canned and microwavable foods.

SOME “GOOD” PROCESSED FOODS:

Milk needs pasteurization in order to remove potentially harmful bacteria. Some seeds (flax, sunflower) need pressing in order to derive their oils. Fermentation is a “process”, and it produces yogurt, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, pickles, among other nutritious foods. Pre-washing is a process used on beans. These are all healthy choices, yet they’ve been processed.

GLUTEN

Gluten protein is the majority ingredient in a grain of wheat. Those allergic to gluten experience headaches, nausea, diarrhea, poor nutrient absorption, and intestinal pain. Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disorder (triggered by gluten), which attacks the lining of the small intestines.

Although Celiac is only diagnosed in 1 of 133 Americans, studies have shown the benefits of limiting or excluding gluten from our everyday diet. Maybe removing gluten from our meals is a beneficial idea. But, beware. Just because something is labeled gluten-free, doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

SOME “BAD” GLUTEN-FREE:

In desserts, for example, the wheat flour is traded for a gluten-free flour. But if the dish is still chock full of butter, salt, and processed sugar, it’s not ultimately healthy. (Maybe delicious, but probably not great for the heart and thighs.)

The lesson? We’re better off looking at the facts and educating ourselves, rather than just taking a label or a trend at face value. Here’s to a smart, yummy, healthy diet!

For more articles on nutrition and a healthy diet, check out www.GetThrive.com

 

Will Counting Calories Help You Lose Weight?

If you’re trying to lose weight, counting calories matters, but they’re hard to understand. A nutrition professor tries to clear up some of the confusion behind caloric intake and weight gain.

Where They Come From

Marion Nestle, a professor of food studies at New York University, shares her theories on calorie counting. She explains that where your calories come from play a huge part in maintaining your weight and overall health. Whole grains, veggies, and fruits have calories, but they also offer nutrition. You’re also more apt to feel fuller faster, so you’ll eat less.

Calories from sugar are the most harmful to your body. They are also the largest source of “empty” calories. That is, they hold zero nutritional value. There are no vitamins, protein, or fiber. A large cup of soda contains a wealth of sugar and calories, yet it doesn’t “feed” your body. It persuades your body to eat more. When we eat something sweet, we want more of it.

Less is Better

Clearly, the fewer calories you ingest, the more possibility of weight loss—especially if you’re exercising regularly. Nestle warns, however, that even though Chipotle offers more nutritious food, we think we can eat more of it. McDonald’s, she adds, (although unhealthy) they do offer portion control. So, even if you’re eating nutritious foods, some calories you consume still count.

Nestle believes that obesity in America wouldn’t be so rampant if we understood the basic principle of calories. “Larger portions have more calories.” A 20-ounce soft drink can contain up to 300 calories. Think of how much exercise you need to do to work off those empty calories. And you still haven’t even eaten anything.

Best Calories

Enjoying a diet of fresh, unprocessed foods will be your healthiest source of calories. Nestle does not advocate cutting sugar completely out of your food repertoire. Just keep it limited. According to this expert, it’s portion size that will determine your ability to maintain or lose weight.

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