Food For Thought: How a Famous Philosopher Might Use Exercise to Encourage Intellectual Growth and Performance

by Hayley Foster, Senior IT Recruiter,  http://www.linkedin.com/pub/hayley-foster/3/b8b/462

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Health and productivity have been linked for ages, but never has it been more important than in these demanding times. Recent studies suggest that health-related employee productivity accounts for 77% of all losses costing American employers more than $136 billion per year.  An unhealthy lifestyle, lack of sleep, and bad nutrition can take a drastic toll on your productivity, mood, and morale. Eating healthy, especially breakfast, and increasing your exercise can cut business losses and put extra money in your pocket.

Eating a healthy breakfast is the first key in increasing your ability to tackle the workday. The brain requires two major products from food. The first is blood glucose, or natural sugar from foods. Don’t get excited, donuts and muffins are not natural sugar! Processed sugars, like the ones found in these office staples, illicit massive spikes in blood sugar followed by a massive drop off.  The second is protein, which provides sustainable energy and works to control the levels of blood sugar. Protein along with whole grains will help to keep you feeling full long into your day. Here are some examples of healthy breakfast foods sure to help you feel energized, concentrate, and stay full:

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1. Greek Yogurt

Packed with protein and full of flavor, Greek-style yogurt provides a rich and satisfying way to get your day started. Try adding fresh berries, low-sugar jam, or honey for added sweetness.

2. Whole Wheat Toast

Whole grains will keep you fuller, longer. Add a small amount of nutrient-rich, natural peanut butter for added protein and healthy fats.

3. Coconut Water

Filled with potassium and natural electrolytes, pure coconut water is a wonderful way to hydrate yourself in the morning or after a workout.

4. Eggs

Filled with iron, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, eggs provide the perfect fuel to keep you going. Try scrambling them with spinach and low-sodium turkey bacon for a more substantial meal.

5. Cottage Cheese

Tart and filled with protein, cottage cheese is great on its own or with fresh fruits. The combination of calcium and protein will keep your bones strong and your stomach full.

6. Fresh Berries

Filled with antioxidants, fresh berries provide added sweetness to yogurt, cottage cheese, whole grain cereal, smoothies, and oatmeal. Fresh or frozen, berries can help lower blood pressure and provide you with vital antioxidants.

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Exercise is also an important factor in increasing your work performance. Walking meetings are a new trend in the workplace.  Aristotle was said to conduct his teachings as he walked the halls of the Lyceum in Athens.  Walking has been shown to boost brain connectivity and function, something a keen mind like Aristotle’s has no doubt figured out. Better functioning brains with better neural connectivity come up with better ideas. Company exercise plans or exercising over your lunch hour has also been shown to yield higher output.  A study at the University of Bristol showed exercising participants work performance was consistently higher, as shown by better time management and improved mental sharpness. It also showed participants to be more tolerant of themselves and their colleagues.

Let’s be realistic, you’re not going to do away with sit down meetings, donuts, and the occasional lunch at your favorite Mexican joint.  But a few tweaks can do wonders. Get up early and have breakfast at home so you avoid those donuts. Next time you have an informal meeting with another coworker suggest you go for a walk outside. Or gather your lunch buddies and go to the gym instead. These changes may not seem like much, but they could translate into higher pay if your job performance improves as a result. And who doesn’t like more money.

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