Productivity at a workplace is integral, however as it happens in too many of us today we hit an afternoon slump needing sugar, more caffeine or a good nap. After that, it can be hard to get what needs to be done, done. There are foods and a few drinks that you can incorporate into your diet before and during work to ensure that you stay productive. These are also foods that can be provided in the break room to boost corporate wellness and the productivity of your employees.
Dark chocolate, specifically cacao, is a rich source of flavonoids. It contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Dark chocolate is known to improve cardiovascular health, but chocolate’s impact on the brain is still being researched. There is growing evidence that it is effective at improving focus, mood and memory as well as cognitive function. Dark chocolate is a fantastic source of magnesium which is needed for nerve function. Magnesium helps in reducing physical and mental fatigue, and it aids in the elimination of migraines. Choosing the right kind of chocolate is important. Raw cacao powder is a great alternative to cocoa powder as it contains more of the flavonoids from the cacao bean. Opting for dark chocolate with less sugar or free from processed sugar is also a great choice. It is still a treat, but having some for a snack with some nuts or adding a tsp of cacao powder into a smoothie or into coffee is a great way to enjoy and incorporate this delicious food into your diet.
Consuming the right kinds of fat can make a big impact on the function of the brain. A Mediterranean diet, which is rich in vegetables but also in fish, olive oil and nuts has been shown to improve cognitive function in older individuals. Avocados are another fat right food that benefits the brain. It is not only a great source of oleic acid but also lutein, both of which positively impact cognition. Consuming fish such as salmon provides beneficial omega 3, as do flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts. Omega 3 helps boost performance as well as overall brain function. A lack of omega 3 can lead to poor cognitive conduct. Having a salad that incorporated nuts and seeds, avocados, as well as fish, can be a great way to get healthy fats into the diet. Also starting your morning with a chia pudding with added walnuts, cacao powder, banana and flax oil can be a great way too.
Lion’s Mane is a mushroom native to Eastern Asia, where it has been used for centuries in China and Japan as a medicine and functional food. Its main health benefits are localized to the brain, digestive and immune system. The main active compounds within the mushroom are eriacines and hericenones that trigger the release of nerve growth factors. This stimulates neural repair, the formation of new neurons and promotes brain plasticity. Plasticity is integral to the functioning of the brain, as it is what connects one neuron to another. Increased brain plasticity allows the brain to adapt better to changes, as well as allowing for learning new things and creating and retaining memory. Lion’s mane ability to improve cognitive performance and function is what makes it a great productivity booster in the workplace.
How to Take it
Lion’s mane can be substituted for any mushrooms in a recipe, it is also available in a dehydrated powder which can easily be added to smoothies, coffee or tea.
Maca is a root vegetable native to Peru, where it has been used for thousands of years as a food source. It was also used as a medicine for improving fertility and increasing energy. Maca is an adaptogen, which means that it helps the body better adapt and handle stressful situations. Stressful situations can trigger the sympathetic nervous system, which is our fight or flight response. If it is constantly firing it can cause adrenal fatigue, leading to hormonal imbalance, inability to concentrate, jumpiness and tiredness. Maca strengthens the adrenal glands and allows for better stress handling. Apart from reducing stress, maca has amazing anti-fatigue properties. Which provide the body with increased energy, allowing for better focus and brain stimulation. Maca is a great functional food to add to the diet as it reduces stress, fatigue, increases energy and increases focus. Allowing for a more productive workplace environment.
How to Take it
Maca is found in powder form, the best type of maca to take is gelatinized maca. Begin with 1/4 tsp and work your way up to 1 tsp. it has a wonderful sweet caramel flavour, perfect for adding into smoothies.
Dehydration does more to the body than make your lips dry, it negatively affects the brain and impairs its function. Though not food water is integral for proper nerve functioning. It has been shown to cause brain tissue to shrink, which affect decision making and thought execution. Coffee, Tea, Fruit Juices and Pops don’t cut it, the best way to curb dehydration in the body is to drink water. Cognitive function is essential for better work performance. Not being able to properly execute thoughts, or having trouble solving problems will make work more difficult. Dehydration can cause mood changes, impair memory and increases the prevalence of headaches. Bringing a reusable water bottle is a good strategy to stay hydrated. Installing filtered water stations and reducing access to sugary drinks can help boost water consumption at work and promote corporate wellness. Drinking 2 litres of water a day is recommended.
Blueberries are high in antioxidants, phytonutrients, magnesium, vitamin C and K as well as copper. They have been shown to improve and sustain cognitive function, increase the ability to learn and retain memory. Not only are they beneficial for older individuals with issues of cognitive decline, but blueberries also provide benefits to people of all ages as they support the brain and reduce risk factors for cognitive decline.
How productive you are has a lot to do with how the brain functions. Having a healthy brain will make jobs, tasks, projects, and assignments so much easier.
Note: working towards reducing an iron deficiency, candida overgrowth or adrenal fatigue will also naturally increase productivity. Sometimes even when incorporating brain-boosting foods into your diet, if you have underlying issues, you may not see the full benefit of having them in your diet until the issues are addressed.
By: Amanda Filipowicz, CNP, BES
Amanda Filipowicz is a certified nutritional practitioner (CNP) with a bachelor in environmental studies (BES) from York University. She also has certification in clinical detoxification, prenatal and postnatal care as well as nutrition for mental health. She has been working as a nutritionist since 2013 and is a lifelong proponent of eating healthy.