Energising your business - starts with nourishing you

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The World Health Organisation have concluded from research that:

“Adequate nourishment can raise productivity levels by 20%.” 

Imagine the productivity improvements your business would see just by making sure employees (including you) are fuelling themselves in the right way.

Rarely do businesses give enough consideration to food, and why would they?

Well let’s start to think about food as ‘energy’ and now let’s think about ‘energy’ in a workforce. By energising your people the workforce should be happier & healthier, making better decisions and performing their best for the full working day.

Food has a direct impact on our energy and cognitive performance, which explains why a poor decision about lunch can impact the rest of the afternoon. So how can we prevent that afternoon slump and sharpen up our post prandial brain?

As we all know, a common lunch may include an overwhelming proportion of processed carbohydrates, starch, and sugars in the form of white bread sandwiches with processed meat fillings, cakes, biscuits, white pasta salads, sauces and fizzy drinks, followed by that after lunch caffeine pick-me-up.

Processed carbohydrates, starches, caffeine and sugars all contribute to poor blood sugar regulation, leading to the feelings of tiredness, irritability and resulting in possible poor decision making. Is that the situation you want you or your teams to be in when making business critical decisions?

When we eat or drink something that causes our blood sugar to rise sharply, our body can over compensate by excreting large amounts of insulin to reduce the amount of glucose in the blood stream.

Unfortunately, this mechanism can have an exaggerated effect resulting in blood sugar dropping. As the body then craves more sugar, this is often the time when people turn to energy-rich snacks in office vending machines.

Hence the cycle continues, and it can have a detrimental effect on cognitive performance and energy and puts a huge strain on the whole body.

So how can we prevent that afternoon slump and sharpen-up our post-prandial brain?

The answer may start by creating the right environment to support employees in making the right food choices and creating clean and relaxing surroundings in which to eat. And clean and relaxed surroundings do not mean eating lunch at your desk!

Tomorrow, look around your office and see how many people are eating the energy they need, sitting down, looking at the same screens they have all morning. If I told you that eating lunch at the desk can negatively affect the digestive process, would you look to change your behaviour?

A person may feel like they are relaxing but they could actually be inflicting stress on the body. Looking at social media, checking personal emails whilst munching on that supermarket sandwich might seem like a relaxing distraction, but in fact physiologically, the body can’t tell the difference between work and social media.

Many organisations are now cottoning on to the fact that what employees eat can have a direct impact on how they perform. Cultural change requires people to lead by example, and this is where you, as a leader steps in.

Promoting healthier eating and looking at ways to encourage your teams to break out of the old behaviours is key to a more productive and happier workforce.

So what can you do? Well, simple small changes can have a big impact. From encouraging people to take a break from their desk and go for a walk to actually paying attention to what foods are available for internal meetings and in the coffee corner vending machines.

From a nutritional point of view, I would suggest ensuring you have a source of lean protein with your lunch choice. For example, this could be chicken, turkey, hardboiled eggs or chickpeas. By basing your plate on a protein-rich salad with a rainbow of colourful, fresh ingredients, and ditching the white wrap or pasta, you will feel fuller for longer and most importantly keep blood sugars stable, therefore improving concentration.

Just a few ideas to help keep a workforce feeling energised, positive, productive and healthy, which in turn should help contribute to a robust and thriving business.

If this was implemented in your organisation, how much sharper would the team feel and how much better would the team perform? Small changes under the right leadership make a big difference.

If you need support with rethinking your own eating habits, please check out Gut Reaction’s personalised services here >

If you are interested to see some of the ways you can inspire and support your workforce, then learn more here >

Mental health in the workplace: let’s beat the blues with these mood boosting recipes

It's Mental Health day and this year the theme is mental health in the workplace - a theme we really support at Gut Reaction. So let’s look at some juicy recipes that help to fight those feelings of anxiety or depression and boost pleasure.

Certain foods have powers to help reduce anxiety, depressive thoughts and help turn a really bad day into a better one!
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Let’s start with breakfast…arguably the most important meal of the day so let get it right. 

Banana, almond and flax smoothie sensation

Slurp some happiness. This banana, almond and flax smoothie may help to support your mental health by boosting levels of omega 3 and B vitamins.

Studies have shown that supplementing with Omega 3 fatty improves the symptoms of both anxiety and depression. EPA, especially, has been found to decrease inflammation in the brain and relieves the symptoms associated with that. At the same time, the levels of pro-inflammatory substances are decreased throughout the body, thereby contributing to general better health. As if that wasn’t enough of a reason to try this smoothie. Let’s talk banana. The mood boosting benefits of bananas. Bananas have a great combination of vitamins B6, A, and C, fibre, tryptophan, potassium, phosphorous, iron, protein and healthy carbohydrates. Why not start your day with this yummy smoothie or as a supper time treat. 

What about Coffee. Coffee is probably one of my daily pleasures. I love it. Why would I deny myself? I don’t, but I do add cinnamon. 

Coffee with cinnamon

Boosts energy. Coffee is a natural stimulant boosting energy and metabolism. A cup of coffee may also create feel-good feelings (in humans and in rats) by increasing levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Why not add a sprinkle of cinnamon. Cinnamons antibacterial properties may remove harmful strains of gut bacteria that may contribute to depression. Why not try it?

Struggling to know what to take to work with you?

If you just can’t face breakfast at home and need to take something to work with you then why not try Full fat Greek yogurt with honey and oats? 

This feel good breakfast is a really satisfying and healthy way to start the day. It includes protein from the Greek yogurt increasing levels of those all-important pleasure boosting neurotransmitters. The yogurt's probiotics should support the microbiome (gut flora) helping to support the immune system, nervous system and help maintain good health. Honey really is a spoonful of sweetness, with compounds that may fight depression by reducing inflammation in the brain. Why not add some berries for extra health benefits and add that zing to your day.

Lunch….

The lunch time nightmare... We all know lunchtimes can be a bit repetitive and is often when we reach for the unhealthy processed, pre packed option. However, with a little bit of forethought there are some really fab ways we can get the goodness in.

Why not try salmon salad with olive oil dressing

When you’re feeling really low try taking a step back, regroup and think positively. Making food can give you back a sense of control when everything else can feel out of control. Try to enjoy the preparation time and think of it as medicine for your brain. 

Salmon is full of omega 3 as we mentioned earlier omega 3 is essential to support good brain health. It is also quick and easy to steam the night before work and is delicious cold in a salad. Adding lots of green leafy vegetables will increase vitamins B and magnesium to help keep you on an even keel.  Drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice and basil for some added taste and goodness. Basil is a natural immune-boosting herb, high in nutrients that improve overall cognitive function and can help reduce high amounts of stress.

Let’s finish the day with our anti-anxiety turkey burger with sweet potato fries

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When low mood hits, we often crave something really hearty. This recipe is good for the brain, hearty and tastes great too. The tryptophan in the turkey increases levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood. Plus sweet potatoes are filled with mood-boosting vitamin B6. 

  1. Cut sweet potatoes into 1/4-inch-wide sticks; toss, on large rimmed baking sheet, with olive oil, 1 teaspoon chili powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Roast at 450 degrees F in oven, 20 to 25 minutes or until crisp, shaking once.
  2. Mix ground turkey breast with garlic, cilantro, remaining chili powder, and remaining salt. Form into 4 patties. Grill on medium 12 to 15 minutes or until cooked through (165 degrees F), turning once.
  3. Mash avocado with lime juice. Top the burger with avocado and tomato, cucumber, lettuce and sprouts as desired. Serve with fries.

Ingredients:

Two small sweet potatoes, 2 tbsp olive oil, 2tbsp chilli powder, ½ tsp of salt, 1lb ground turkey breast, 2 cloves of garlic, pressed,1/2 c. Chopped cilantro, 1/2 avocado, 2 tsp lime juice, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber and sproutsplus more for serving. 

And finish with two squares of 85% dark chocolate!

Mental health is beatable, don’t give up, it will be worth it in the end. 

What’s your gut reaction? If you or your employer would like more information on how nutrition can help support a workforce please contact us. www.gutreaction.co.uk 

 

Why, Why, Why

Hooray you’ve come this far! You’ve started the journey but you may well be asking some of these questions:

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  • Why is nutrition relevant to my business?
  • Why do you care what your employees eat?
  • Why do you think you can influence the health and wellbeing of your employees?

If you’re a UK business it’s likely that your productivity is significantly lower than your German counterpart. If you employ people that eat, then nutrition is relevant to your business!

You probably don’t really worry about what your workforce carries in their lunch box, but if your reading this you probably care about what you eat and are looking to improve your business.

Productivity, Absenteeism, Performance can all be influenced by fuelling our brains and bodies with the correct foods so that we can work at our optimum. If you want logical decision making, effective problem solving and people that create the winning formula then corporate nutrition could be the answer.

Business Leaders have a responsibility to maximise performance and are in a unique position to be able to influence the health, and wellbeing of their employees. 

What steps can I take as a leader?

Collective motivation:

Why go on a team building away day when you can get that team spirit every day! Why are diet clubs so popular? Perhaps one reason is the encouragement and support given by the group. If a healthy eating culture can be developed in your office your workforce can unite behind this common aim. Leading to a stronger business team that have improved their health along the way.

Strong and effective Leadership:

  • Ensuring managers understand how an effective corporate nutrition strategy can both benefit the bottom line, and make management of their team more successful and hopefully more enjoyable!
     
  • Managers or team leaders should support healthy lifestyles e.g. being flexible with time and facilities to prepare, store and eat food. Larger companies could ensure healthy options are written into the catering contracts. Gut Reaction would be happy to help with this.
     
  • Changing the ‘cake culture’, the office is often made up of the sugar pushers caffeine junkies or the birthday bakers but why not support some healthy cultural changes that are less likely to inhibit brain power, and lead to a more effective afternoon. Everyone has a birthday and that’s a lot of lost afternoons even if Dave from accounts ‘doesn’t do birthdays’! (Remember your office colleagues will thank you when they meet their weekly weight goal!)

By creating a happier, healthier workplace you can help people better manage the stresses of day-to day working life, improve performance in their jobs and become more committed and motivated. Try it. Help your business by helping your people to look after themselves.

Once you’ve had time to digest these ideas you might fancy finding out more. Gut Reaction would love to identify any areas for improvement in your business and can ensure the correct ingredients for improving your business performance.