Monthly Archives: July 2017

Productivity and Nutrition: Making the Connection

It’s not exactly breaking news: nutrition is one of the major factors that impacts employee productivity. One of the seminal works on the topic comes from the International Labour Organization (ILO), which published a study in 2005 linking nutrition to workers’ health and productivity. The report, which took a global perspective on both developing and developed countries, found that poor nutrition can reduce employee productivity up to 20 percent. Both malnutrition and obesity can drastically affect workers’ ability to come to work and perform effectively.

Productivity and Nutrition

More recently, a report from Britain’s Healthiest Workplace found that British companies lose an average  of 27.5 days of productive time per employee per year due to health-related absenteeism and presenteeism. Presenteeism, according to the Harvard Business Review, is when employees show up to work but are not functioning at their optimal levels. Presenteeism is insidious, because unlike absenteeism, it is difficult to detect and even harder to track. Nonetheless, research suggests that it may cost companies up to 10 times more than absenteeism.

Wellness programs may be the answer. Research from the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO), Brigham Young University, and the Center for Health Research at Healthways suggests that employees who eat healthily and exercise regularly have a 27 percent lower absentee rate and 11 percent higher rate of job productivity than their obese colleagues.

Although companies can’t force employees to maintain healthier lifestyles, they can make it much easier for them to do so. Offering discounts at health clubs and creating pre-, post-, and mid-work exercise groups are great ways to encourage physical activity. And providing healthy food options and detailed nutritional information helps employees make good eating choices. That’s why USConnect’s The Right Choice…For a Healthier You™ program gives employees the information and options they need to make good nutritional decisions.

Employee productivity comes down to the choices of each employee, but armed with the right research and some great food choices, HR departments can improve productivity across the board.

 

 

 

The Healthy (and Not-So-Healthy) Summer Drinks – Smoothies!

Real Smooth, Smoothie

As summer heats up, many people reach for cool, refreshing fruit smoothies thinking they’re drinking something as healthy as pure fruit. And in some cases, this is true; some smoothies are, indeed, very good for you. Others, unfortunately, are not as beneficial. Here’s our guide to the best and worst options for drinkable fruit.

The Healthy (and Not-So-Healthy) Summer Drinks - Smoothies!

Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware)

At fast food restaurants and coffee shops across the country, menus offer fruit smoothies as a convenient, healthy alternative to other drink meals. However, a smoothie isn’t healthy just by virtue of being a smoothie. Convenient? Yes. Healthy? not so much. Many store- and restaurant-made smoothies actually contain more fat than a Big Mac and more sugar than four Snickers bars.

And the picture is not much prettier at the supermarket, where many choices contain little of the protein, fiber, and vitamins that should make smoothies a healthy option. In fact, Naked Juice, one of the leading supermarket juice and smoothie brands, has been in trouble more than once for falsely claiming the health benefits of its products. In 2013, Naked Juice’s parent company, PepsiCo, agreed to pay a $9 million settlement in a class action lawsuit. In 2016, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) again sued PepsiCo, alleging that its healthy-sounding drinks like “Kale Blazer” actually contain mainly high-sugar apple juice.

Convenient and Healthy Options

If you’re looking for a convenient, healthy way to drink your fruits and veggies, the news is not all bad. Many store-made and bottled juices are as healthy as they claim to be; the key is to always read the label so you know what you’re ingesting. A good smoothie should contain a significant amount of vitamins and fiber, and preferably protein to prevent hunger pains from hitting too soon. It should contain minimal sugar and very little fat. Check out some of the healthiest options here and here.

Best Option: Make Your Own

When it comes to smoothies, it’s all about the ingredients. You can create your own, mixing and matching fruits, vegetables, proteins, nuts, and seeds:

  • Acai
  • Almond milk
  • Apples
  • Avocado
  • Banana, peeled and frozen
  • Chia seeds
  • Coconut flakes
  • Coconut water
  • Frozen blueberries
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground flax seeds
  • Ground ginger root
  • Ground turmeric
  • Hemp seeds
  • Honey
  • Kale leaves
  • Nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • Peanut butter
  • Protein powder
  • Raspberries
  • Raw cacao powder
  • Rolled oats
  • Spinach
  • Spirulina
  • Strawberries