Corporate Health: Monitoring Energy Levels

One of the most common problems reported through our Insights survey is that people feel they don’t have enough energy to get through the day. There are lots of reasons that could be behind this, and monitoring your energy levels can help you to understand what’s making you so tired, and how you can change it.

Staff that are energised are happier and more productive, so figuring out what’s making them sluggish can have fantastic results in the workplace!

Once they’ve figured that out, why not check out our guides to getting better sleep and eating for better energy?


 

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 11.40.20This article from Lifehack looks at a simple way to get to know your own energy cycles through the day, and gives advice on planning your day so that you’re doing activities at the optimal time. This is a great place to start with your staff that are having energy issues.


 

For those who have a more serious or long-term problem with tiredness, ManageMyFatigue is a great app that helps individuals to manage their day, build on success, and feel more energised. It’s available on iOS and Android.


Fluctuating energy levels throughout the month can also be a symptom of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Clue is a cycle tracking app that measures energy levels among other factors, which can help users to identify patterns. In this blog, the makers explain why they track energy levels, and how it can help women.


Nudjed Health Resources are collections of online content and tools that offer simple, low-cost ways to improve specific areas of health. To discover which areas of health are affecting productivity in your organisation, check out Nudjed Insights. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Corporate Health: Managing Caffeine

Getting better sleep is something that consistently comes top of health intentions in surveys we run – nobody feels like they’re getting enough Zz’s! In this blog, we look at one technique for improving the quality of your staff’s sleep: managing caffeine.

The majority of UK adults have some form of caffeine habit, whether it’s tea, coffee, or even sugary energy drinks. But drinking caffeinated drinks too late in the day can interfere with your ability to sleep properly, leading to a vicious cycle – the day after a night of bad sleep, you probably feel like you need even more caffeine to function properly!

In this blog you’ll find some vital information on the health effects of caffeine, some clever tricks for staying awake without caffeine, and some suggestions for alternatives to coffee that won’t mess with your sleep cycle.

Sweet dreams!


(Greatist)

Caffeine is seen as a much less serious drug than most others, but it’s highly addictive and is a model drug of dependence. This article outlines the effects it has on your health – share with your staff to raise awareness and get them to think twice about that next grande!


(Lifehacker)

This article from Lifehacker has suggestions that may help your staff to stay alert and productive without caffeine. Apparently, the key is to keep your senses stimulated – lots of bright light!


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The best way to ditch an unhealthy behaviour is to replace it with something else. This piece from Shape is full of suggestions for tasty alternatives to coffee that have a range of surprising health benefits. Why not provide some of these in your workplace?


Even if you can’t convince staff to kick their habit altogether, why not introduce a caffeine amnesty after 4pm? This will go a long way to helping everyone to sleep better.

Nudjed Health Resources are collections of online content and tools that offer simple, low-cost ways to improve specific areas of health. To discover which areas of health are affecting productivity in your organisation, check out Nudjed Insights. 

Healthy Eating: It’s Your Time To Thrive

Susan Hay is the editor of Thrive Magazine. After a high-pressured career in the corporate world and her own challenging journey with food, she set up Thrive Magazine to help others learn about healthier options in eating and lifestyle. 

We asked Susan to share her thoughts on how to take the first steps to improving your health.

(Relished)


 

Being healthy can mean so many different things these days; having a healthy mind is just as important as being healthy and fit in body. In fact, I’m a firm believer that to have a healthy body you have to start with the mind.

It’s important to understand your own food journey and to get to grips with how you talk to yourself about food.

Our minds are unbelievably powerful and the thoughts we have day to day about food and our bodies have a direct impact on our health. That’s why it’s important to understand your own food journey and to get to grips with how you talk to yourself about food.

I don’t believe in using the words must, don’t or can’t when it comes to food – negative words and thoughts create negative feelings. If you have a negative relationship with food, you’ll always be battling against yourself.

Change the conversation around. When that little voice in your head says, “I want that cream cake but I’m not allowed it, it’s naughty,” change the dialogue and take back control. Switch it to, “I know I could have that right now, but I choose not to.”


 

Changing your health starts with small, achievable steps. That’s why diets don’t work – and if we’re honest, we all know it! As a society we’ve been dieting for centuries, and we’re now the most obese generation in recorded history – diets don’t work.

The key to change is to shrink your focus down. Have the main goal in mind, but concentrate on the small steps. We live in a society that can be overwhelming, and that constant feeling of bombardment makes us feel like things are impossible; and so we quit before we really try. The key to achieving your goal, whether it’s in health, fitness or even in business, is to shrink the focus down.

The key to achieving your goal is to shrink your focus down and concentrate on the small steps.

Be aware and mindful: the next small decision you make can take you a step towards what you want to achieve, or a step away.

And start eating. Yes, that’s right! The best way to ultimate health is to develop a healthy respect and excitement around food again. Food has the amazing ability to heal our bodies at a cellular level, and by choosing the right balance of healthy food types we can heal our cells, balance our hormones and nourish both our body and mind.


You can read more about eating for a healthy mind and body in Thrive Magazine, which is published quarterly both in print and online. Subscribe for £25 or buy single copies online here: www.thrive-magazine.co.uk

Thrive covers all aspects of health, nutrition and wellbeing. The perfect read if you’re on your own journey back to health!

Find more from Thrive on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

 

 

Corporate Health: Improve Productivity By Helping Your Team To Get Better Sleep

Sleep deprivation can have a negative impact on behaviour in the workplace, with sufferers experiencing low mood, decreased productivity, clumsiness, and even impaired brain function.

Science hasn’t quite figured out why we need to sleep, but we do know that just a couple of days without sleep can literally drive a person mad!

This article identifies a range of ways for you to support your staff to get better sleep – improving their health, and your organisation’s performance.


The Nudjed guide to getting better sleep covers a range of science-backed tips, from things you should cut out of your diet to ideas for useful bedtime rituals. It also has some pointers on keeping track of your sleep to pick out patterns. You could share the article with your staff, or try enacting some of the suggestions yourself – for example, you could introduce a caffeine amnesty and provide chamomile tea in the afternoons.


For employees with persistent sleep problems, there are a range of apps that may be helpful. For example, Sleepio is online clinical programme that uses CBT to tackle insomnia. It can even use sleep data from a wearable device if you use one, and is NHS-approved!


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This video from AsapThought has a load of suggestions for little changes you can make to get better sleep. They explain the science behind ‘power naps’ and the role that brain chemicals play in your sleep cycle in simple terms – perfect for sharing health knowledge with your staff without making them read loads of science!

Nudjed Health Resources are collections of online content and tools that offer simple, low-cost ways to improve specific areas of health. To discover which areas of health are affecting productivity in your organisation, check out Nudjed Insights. 

A Beginners Guide to Going Vegetarian

Thinking of going vegetarian? Struggling with how to get started? Fear not! The Nudjed nutrition team has put together this short guide to help you make the swap. Avoiding the pitfalls that many people fear.


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The Pro’s and Cons of a vegetarian diet

Being a vegetarian can be a really easy way to boost your health and cut your carbon footprint (yes, meat generally creates more pollution!). But swapping out the foods you’re used to, can be tough to start with and you may be nervous about missing out on the vitamins you need to stay in top condition.

The reasons to go Veggie

The normal fears people have

  • Replacing the protein you get from meat
  • Making sure you’re not missing any nutrients
  • Managing your energy levels (avoiding ‘Carb loading’)
  • The reduced choice worry

So let’s help you avoid them…


Replacing the protein you get from meat

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If you’re a meat eater, it’s a good bet that meat or fish is the main source of protein in your diet. Here are ways to replace that:

Choose low-fat Dairy & Eggs –

Milk, eggs and cheese are all sources of good quality protein. Try cottage cheese, mozzarella and ricotta, instead of cheddar and cream cheese in your sandwiches and salads.

Throw on some nuts and seeds –

Nuts and seeds are an excellent source of quality protein. Try sprinkling them on salads and stir-fries, adding them to curries or throwing them into pots for snacks at work.

Love Beans –

Lentils, beans and chickpeas are all excellent sources of protein. They work surprisingly well in place of meat, especially in Indian or Mexican dishes.


Managing your energy levels (avoiding ‘Carb loading’)

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Anytime you change your diet, there will be learning curve as your body adapts. Managing your energy levels is a crucial part of any diet, here’s the things to look out for in a vegetarian version.

Swap white for wholegrain –

Go for wholemeal everything, besides a boost in fibre you will also consume more protein. Replacing rice with other grains like quinoa, pearl barley and bulgur wheat is a great way to do this.

Don’t become a sugar-holic –

Going veggie can be a chance to excuse your over-consumption of simple sugars and processed white carbs. Try keeping a small pack of nuts, seeds or fruit next to your desk in work.


Making sure you’re not missing any nutrients

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If you want to lose weight then cutting out animal fats is probably a good thing, but if not (and you’re light already) then you need to replace those fats to make sure you absorb enough vitamins and get enough energy.

Use a quality oil and dress your salads –

Cold pressed oils retain the most nutrients. Go for olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil or seed oils for a boost of (good) unsaturated fats.

Make friends with fatty plants –

Containing wonderful essential fats, try including more avocado, kidney/black beans, flaxseed, edamame (soya) beans, and wild rice.

Look out for enriched products –

spreads, eggs, cheese and milks all come with added omega 3 (essential fatty acid) these days

Green and leafy = extra vitamins and minerals –

meat and fish do contain a number of essential vitamins and minerals, but there are none that you can’t get from maintaining (or slightly increasing) your intake of dairy products and munching down more broccoli, kale, brussels, spinach, chard (or anything else green and leafy).

Mix it up –

Eat your meals in combination (more than one thing on the plate). For example, combining vegetables with fats often increases the absorption of vitamins and minerals and slows down the rise in blood sugar.


The reduced choice worry

Removing meat from your diet may seem like it limits your choice. But according to research carried out by Merchant Gourmet, most families rely on just 9 recipes to feed themselves. To improve your choice, here’s our top 9 meals (+ some lunch ideas) to swap for them:

Bonus Vegetarian Lunches

How to avoid getting Hangry (Angry ‘cos you’re hungry)

The human body has two main energy sources: Fat and carbohydrate. Fat is by far the most efficient energy source, but it cannot cross the barrier between the blood and the brain cells. But carbs can…


The ‘Brain Blood Barrier’

It may sound a little gross, but it’s actually pretty simple science:

  • Your body’s (and brain’s) cells need energy to function
  • Blood carries this energy to them via the circulatory system (arteries)
  • Unfortunately there’s a barrier around your brain that fat cells don’t fit through
  • This means that only carbohydrates can give your brain energy

Avoid getting Hangry

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Hangry – the anger associated with feeling hungry, is your brain crying out for energy, not your body.

When you are eating carbs, think of it as feeding your brain before you think of it as feeding your body

The brain uses only carbohydrate (sugar) as its energy supply, that is the only reason why carbohydrate is essential to the diet.

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Why should I choose unsaturated fats over saturated fats?

Fats are made up of groups of three fatty acids.


Each of those fatty acids is made up of a chain of molecules, just like carbs.

There are:

  • short chains (0-6)
  • medium chains (6-12)
  • long chains (13-21)
  • and very long chains (22+).

Three of these chains, attached to a glycerol, makes a fat.


The arrangement of molecules within each chain determines how saturated the fat is.

If there is a double bond in the arrangement then the fat is un-saturated.

The number of double bonds determines whether it is mono-unsaturated (1) or poly-unsaturated (2+), no double bonds and you’ve got a saturated fat.


What difference does it make if I choose a saturated fat over an un-saturated fat?

So let’s say we have the choice of two different fats for breakfast, sausage (high in saturated) or avocado (high in unsaturated).

It’s the world cup of fat, Sausage vs. Avocado.

  1. On first impressions, there is no difference, they all go down the same way and are broken up into fatty acids. They both contain 9 calories per gram. 0-0
  2. Whilst they can all be used for storage and energy, the avocado contains some essential fatty acids. 1-0 to avocado on quality of fatty acids.
  3. The sausage fat is associated with an increase in LDL and vLDL cholesterol, which are the types which carry fatty acids out into the bloodstream. On the other side, the avocado may increase HDL, which mops up excess fatty acids from around the body and bring them back to the liver to be disposed of. 2-0 to avocado for promoting a better HDL-LDL balance.
  4. High levels of circulating fat and high levels of LDL’s are associated with a higher risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and some cancers. In particular, LDL’s and circulating fatty acids are found in atherosclerotic plaques which block the blood vessels. 3-0 to avocado for potentially reducing the risk of cardiac events.
  5. Fats from fish, shellfish and plants (like avocado) contain more vitamins and minerals than the sausage. These help to fight against disease, reduce inflammation and boost the immune system. 4-0 to avocado for providing more additional nutrients.
  6. New research shows that foods high in essential fatty acids are associated with better brain function and a reduction in the risk of neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. Can’t get that benefit from a sausage! 5-0.
  7. Unsaturated fats like those from the avocado are consumed in high amounts throughout the Mediterranean (Spain, Italy, Greece) where the average life expectancy is the longest in Europe, and almost the world (82-83 years). Countries consuming high amounts of saturated fat like the USA have a much lower average life expectancy (78 years). 6-0.

Final Score: Sausage 0 vs. 6 Avocado – I know which one I would go for.

The 15 Minerals that your body needs to work! (and where to find them)

Minerals are natural compounds found in the diet. At least 15 minerals are currently considered essential for health, though it’s likely there are more you require*.


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Minerals are usually divided into two areas:

Minerals

We usually require more of these, or our bodies use them faster, or store them less well, meaning we need to consume them more regularly. These include:

  • Iron (Fe) – found in meat/poultry, beans, watercress, lentils, and chickpeas. It is essential for the formation of red blood cells. Very important for menstruating women.
  • Sodium (Na) – found in salt (no more than 6g per day) and is important for nerve transmission and cell integrity.
  • Phosphorus (P) – found in meats, milk, and soya products and is important for the formation of DNA and cell function.
  • Magnesium (Mg) – found in spinach, pumpkin seeds, mackerel, soya beans, and avocado. Is vitally important for energy production/metabolism.
  • Calcium (Ca) – found in dairy products, almonds, sesame, quinoa, beans, broccoli and kale, and is vital for cell signalling and bone/tooth formation
  • Potassium (K) – found in parsley, almonds, dried apricots, bananas, avocado, and soya beans. Is important for normal cell function.

Trace elements

No less important, but our bodies require less of them to function well. You don’t need to go out of your way to try and get more, but it is good to know what they are. These include:

  • Zinc (Zn) – found in oysters, lobster, crab, meat, beans, seeds, and nuts. Is essential for enzyme function (affecting dozens of body processes).
  • Copper (Cu) – found in shitake mushrooms, oysters, kale, sesame seeds, cashew nuts and chickpeas, and is essential for respiratory enzyme function.
  • Selenium (Se) – found in brazil nuts, tuna, wholewheat, sunflower seeds, and meats, and is essential for thyroid function
  • Molybdenum (Mo) – found in green beans, eggs, sunflower seeds, and lentils, and is important for biochemical reactions in the body and tooth enamel maintenance.
  • Chromium (Cr) – found in black pepper, broccoli, oats, green beans, and tomatoes, and may be essential for metabolism
  • Manganese (Mn) – found in mussels, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, wholewheat bread and butter beans, and is essential for wound healing, nutrient absorption and bone formation.
  • Iodine (I) – found in seaweed (nori in sushi), cod, potato skin, prawns and tuna, and is essential for the production of thyroid hormones which control growth and metabolism
  • Fluorine (F) – found in toothpastes, mouthwashes etc. It helps in bone formation, and prevents tooth decay
  • Cobalt (Co) – found in wholegrains, seeds and nuts, and is essential for enzyme function and is an important component of B vitamins.

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A note on farming…

The concentration of minerals in your food depends on how much was in the soil it grew from. As less intensive farming methods leave more minerals in the soil, cheaper products sometimes have less nutritional value. So it’s worth investing in good quality produce, if you want to be super healthy.

*As with any science, our knowledge of how the body works is constantly expanding. There may well be minerals that we consume that are essential for various functions, we just don’t know it yet.

Vitamins – How to eat them and what they do

Vitamins are classed as micronutrients. This is because we require smaller amounts of them than any of the macronutrients (carbohydrate, fat, protein). However, they are no less essential! Ignoring any one of them would eventually lead to very serious health issues.


Vitamins are divided into two main categories according to how the body absorbs them; fat soluble, and water soluble.

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Water Soluble Vitamins

Water soluble vitamins are absorbed using water, with excess amounts being passed out when you pee. Water soluble vitamins are not stored, you must consume them every day.

The water soluble vitamins are:


Vitamin C – Ascorbic acid/Ascorbate

  • Essential for: Immune system, absorption of iron, antioxidant defences.
  • Good sources: Chilli peppers, bell peppers, citrus fruits, kiwi, strawberries, parsley, broccoli.
  • Deficiencies: Low immune system, scurvy (yes, like a pirate).

B Vitamins – Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, Pyridoxine, Biotin, folate/folic acid, B12

  • Essential for: Normal cell metabolism, huge number of essential processes.
  • Good sources: Wholegrains, lentils, beans, potatoes (skin on), chilli peppers, bananas.
  • Deficiencies: Metabolic disorders and, Beriberi (B1), ariboflavinosis (B2), pellagra (B3), acne (B5), microcytic anaemia (B6, B9, B12) and depression (B6), impaired growth in infants (B7), neural tube defects in babies, brain ageing (B9), peripheral neuropathy, memory loss, brain decline (B12)

Fat Soluble Vitamins

As you’d expect, Fat soluble vitamins need fat in the diet in order to be absorbed. So it’s worth taking them into account before removing too much fat from your diet.

The fat soluble vitamins are:


Vitamin A – Retinol

  • Essential for: Eye health/vision and a healthy immune system.
  • Good sources: cod liver oil, meats (especially turkey and liver), sweet potato, carrots, butter, kale, spinach.
  • Deficiencies: Poor vision, low immune response, blindness.

Vitamin D Cholecalciferol/ergocalciferol

  • Essential for: Absorption of minerals (especially calcium), and bone formation.
  • Good sources: Sunlight, mushrooms, fish, fortified cereals.
  • Deficiencies: Rickets, Osteoporosis.

Vitamin E Tocopherol/tocotrienol

  • Essential for: antioxidant defences, cell signalling
  • Good sources: Seed oils, avocado, broccoli, seeds, nuts, nut oils.
  • Deficiencies: Neurological problems

Vitamin K – Phylloquinone

  • Essential for: Blood coagulation.
  • Good sources: Kale, broccoli, cavolo nero, spinach, chard greens, brussel Sprouts.
  • Deficiencies: Anaemia, bleeding gums, linked to Heart Disease and Osteoporosis

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Blood sugar – How to manage your energy levels

The glucose in your blood is generally referred to as your ‘blood sugar’ level. Diabetics have to pay close attention to it, but understanding how it works will help anyone to regulate their energy levels better.


So how do you get sugar into your blood?

Glucose is a form of sugar that your body can rapidly turn into energy when it needs to. Carbohydrates from your food are all broken down into glucose during digestion before being used immediately, or stored away for later.

Glucose is generally stored as a complex carbohydrate called ‘glycogen’ in either the liver, or the muscle. For instance, if you start running, the glycogen is converted into glucose in your leg muscles. This in turn converts into energy, powering your legs.

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The body keeps an emergency level of glucose in the blood at all times, just in case it is needed in a hurry. Generally this is for your brain, which needs energy from glucose to work effectively (most people who start starving, make worse decisions due to the drop in blood sugar).


Managing your blood sugar to be healthy

Blood glucose goes up when we eat, and down again as it is stored or used. It is regulated by two hormones called insulin and glucagon.

Insulin helps to take glucose out of the blood, glucagon helps to put it back in again. It’s this regulation of blood-sugar that diabetics struggle with. They have a problem with their production or use of insulin and have inject it should their blood sugar rise too much.

Stored glycogen can only fuel your body for approx. 12 hours (or less if you’re very active). After it runs out, the body will start searching for other stored energies, i.e. fat. So if you’re looking to lose body fat, it’s important that you maintain enough blood sugar for your brain to work, but not so much that you don’t ever get to burn off your body fat.

Three good tactics to do this are:

  • Don’t binge on sugary snacks, swap to fruit, spread your consumption out to flatten the energy curve.
  • Pick slow release energy sources. Complex carbs like wholemeal bread have a lower Glycemic Index.
  • Don’t starve yourself. You’ll find you make worse decisions, that leave your brain craving fast release energy.

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Blood sugar can have a major impact on how you feel ‘in the moment’ as well as being a good way to manage your body fat for the whole of your life. Pay attention to the tips above and you won’t go far wrong.