Does Healthy Eating Increase Productivity?

Health Care: Does Healthy Eating Increase Productivity?

For most persons, productivity is divided into two axels: the home and workplace. Today’s workforce is particularly aware of the need for steady productivity, as companies reduce employees but maintain the same level of output. In turn, managers pay keen attention to the financial and productivity impacts of employee absences.

According to a survey conducted by Mercer, 9 percent of all employee absences are unplanned, meaning in most cases that a person has fallen ill. For midsize businesses, these absences drain millions of dollars every year from the bottom line and subsequently impact the U.S. economy.

Healthy Eating Begins in the Workplace

To manage the costs of absenteeism, Ira S. Wolfe, national speaker and business consultant, recommends educating employees and managers alike. This education should center on health care maintenance and disease prevention, foremost of which is good nutrition.

Moreover, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that the workplace environment support healthy eating habits. This can be achieved with the following strategies:

  • Provide employees with clinical nutrition counseling that instructs how to choose healthy foods when eating away from home.
  • Offer fresh fruits and vegetables in workplace cafeterias and/or vending machines, or arrange a garden market where local farmers and growers come to the worksite and sell fresh produce.
  • Keep healthy foods readily accessible in common areas, meetings and at company-sponsored events.
  • Encourage employees to select healthy foods both at work and home.

Employers can use the promotion of healthy eating to unite employees as well. Before meetings, employees should vote on what food should be served to pair taste with nutrition. Sample menu items might include turkey sandwiches, vegetable and fruit platters or fresh salads. Quarterly wellness seminars and “lunch and learns” are also valuable resources for learning about healthy living while gathering employees.

Research has shown that good nutritional habits commonly lead to other lifestyle improvements as well. This regards decreased smoking, infrequent alcohol consumption and regular exercise. The combination of these efforts leads to improved health among employees, who are more productive than those with serious health complications. Said productivity can be in terms of fewer missed days at work and/or greater concentration on tasks while at work.

How Eating Impacts Health and Productivity

According to Elizabeth Frazao, an agricultural economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it is estimated that healthier diets might prevent $71 billion per year in medical costs, lost productivity and premature deaths. This is because scientific research continues to confirm that what a person eats significantly impacts his or her health and longevity. In the United States, consumption of fat and saturated fat that mitigates calcium and fiber is linked to several chronic health conditions.

In particular, poor diet is associated with the development of coronary heart disease, certain types of cancer and stroke. These are the three leading health problems in the United States. According to doctors, when the body feels poorly, the mind does not function optimally. This can result in lost productivity both at home and work and an overall diminished quality of life.

Diet is also the primary cause of diabetes, hypertension and obesity. These health conditions incur considerable medical expenses, lost work and disability. However, a substantial proportion of these conditions is thought to be preventable with simple diet changes and a commitment to healthy eating.

Smart Food Choices for Brain Power

While healthy eating is likely to cause better weight management and improved health, diet can also be used to directly build productivity. In this manner, certain foods not only impact overall health but also help energize persons and fuel their brains. One example is the almond, which contains chemicals that support healthy neurological functions, stabilize mood and naturally reduce pain. Raisins are also heralded for their energy-boosting abilities. They contain high levels of antioxidants but are low in fat and calories, which is perfect for a mid-day snack.

Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, walnuts and broccoli, also help people to think more clearly and remain focused. Omega-3 is also essential to good heart health and deterring from the risk of cardiovascular disease. Sunflower seeds are a popular way to fight fatigue, while watermelon is a natural energy-booster that does not add unwanted calories. Finally, water is one of the most essential components of any healthy diet. It increases metabolism and keeps people feeling full, which deters from unhealthy snacking.


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