Most nutritionists, dieticians, and physicians agree that consuming a healthy, well-balanced diet is essential for good overall health. And most will also agree that doing so can positively affect productivity in the process. Of course, the opposite is true when it comes to an unhealthy diet as well.
Research shows the typical American diet contains far too many calories and not enough fruits and vegetables. Over time, this unhealthy diet can lead to obesity and nutritional deficiencies, which, in turn, results in low productivity and poor overall health.
Obesity and Low Productivity
Obesity can impact the body in multiple ways, from placing tremendous strain on joints to increasing the risk of developing a host of chronic diseases. And the ill-effects do not stop there. According to a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity also contributes to decreased productivity in the workplace. And this is especially noteworthy considering that roughly one-third of American adults are said to be obese. The same study published by the CDC noted that obese individuals often struggle with the following:
- An inability to concentrate
- Poor problem-solving abilities
- Staying alert
- Feeling fatigued
- Feelings of depression
- Low energy
What You Should Know About Empty Calories
To better understand the correlation between low productivity and a poor diet, it helps to know a little more about empty calories as they are the primary contributor to weight gain and other health problems. In short, empty calories are foods and drinks that are comprised, either entirely or in part, of sugar, fats, oils, or alcohol.
Sure, these foods can provide short-term energy and may even help you feel satiated. However, they often don’t contain enough vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, and essential fatty acids that the body needs.
Over time, a diet comprised primarily of empty calories can take a toll on an individual’s physical and mental health. Some of the most commonly consumed empty calorie foods in America include the following:
- Granola bars
- White rice
- Alcoholic beverages
What Foods Should You Eat to Boost Productivity?
According to most nutritionists, dieticians, and physicians, foods rich in the following nutrients can improve brain health and boost overall productivity:
Commonly found in meat, beans, and green vegetables, folate is a B-vitamin that is essential for red blood cell formation. It also helps with cell growth and healthy cell function. Furthermore, folate aids the body in converting complex carbohydrates into energy, which leads to improved focus, alertness, and better concentration.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Commonly found in oily fish, such as salmon, sardines, and herring, flax seeds, and walnuts, omega-3 fatty acids can improve cognitive function. Furthermore, these delicious foods can lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other neurodegenerative diseases as we age. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids can improve joint health, which often starts to decline when individuals become overweight or obese and invariably leads to them being less active.
Along with being an excellent way to combat the common cold, vitamin C can improve cognitive function and boost metabolism. You can find it in various fruits and vegetables, such as oranges, grapefruit, and broccoli.
Overall, consuming more vitamin C can help individuals achieve or maintain a healthy weight while also contributing to more energy and fewer missed workdays.
Commonly found in green, leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils, vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin. It combats free radicals in the body that can cause cancer, diabetes, inflammatory joint disease, and much more.
In essence, adding more vitamin E to your diet means that productivity is less likely to take a nosedive due to a chronic illness.
Drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day not only keeps you hydrated. It also improves alertness and cognitive function.
According to a study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine, hydrated individuals often exhibit better planning skills. Also, they are more productive compared to those who are not.
Whether your goal is to be more alert, more productive, or to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, consuming a healthy, well-balanced diet is essential. And it all comes down to adding more nutrient-dense foods to your diet while cutting back on empty calories.