Food is fuel. We each need a certain number of kilojoules every day to function. However, our bodies suffer when we consume low quality kilojoules, such as foods high in fat and low in nutritional value.
This type of unhealthy diet taxes the body’s organs, weakens the immune system, opens the door to illness and greatly reduces our daily energy levels.
The importance of breakfast:
A study from the Sussex Innovation Centre, Brighton, UK found that eating breakfast improves people's mental performance. 61% of test subjects showed improvements in English and mathematics tests after eating breakfast. Hand-eye coordination was also improved. Breakfast eaters also showed a reduction in anxiety levels when faced with stressful situations.
It can boost your brain power by providing your brain with needed fuel. After an overnight fast, your brain’s fuel is at an all time low. The brain cannot store its fuel so it is dependent on what the blood can provide. Breakfast provides your brain with an immediate and steady source of fuel for optimal performance.
Regular meals for steady energy:
Our energy levels throughout the day are reliant on our blood glucose levels. Therefore we must aim to keep them as stable as possible throughout the day so they do not travel over into the danger zones that will either cause your body to store fat instead of burning it and you’ll feel low on energy with a foggy brain.
Glucose provides the body with the energy it needs to get through the day and is provided to the body through carbohydrate based foods.
Eating strategically will allow you to manage your daily energy levels. (BONUS - it helps to reduce your risk of weight gain and the subsequent risk of development of Type 2 diabetes.)
You can aim to keep your glucose levels stable throughout the day by eat 5-6 smaller meals instead of 3 large ones.
Foods for performance:
Brain Foods - Protein: Protein is found in meat, fish, milk and cheese. Protein provides the building blocks for most of the body’s tissues, nerves, internal organs (including brain and heart). Proteins are used to make neurotransmitters and are essential to improve mental performance.
Brain Foods - Carbohydrate: Carbohydrates enhance the absorption of tryptophan, which is converted into serotonin in the brain. Within thirty minutes of eating a carbohydrate meal, you will feel more calm and relaxed. The effects will last several hours. Grains, fruits and vegetables are key sources of carbohydrates.
Brain Foods - Healthy fats: The brain is more than 60% fat. Fats also play a crucial role as messengers. They regulate key aspects of the immune system, blood circulation, inflammation, memory and mood. Omega 3 fatty acids are essential to the optimum performance of your brain.
To ensure that your diet is rich in omega-3 fats, ensure that you eat plenty of oily fish including mackerel, salmon, sardines, tuna, herring and anchovies. Supplements, including fish oil capsules, also provide good sources of omega 3.
Try these healthy snack ideas throughout your work day:
- Vegetable sticks and hummus
- Low fat yoghurt and sliced fruit
- Wholegrain English muffin with peanut butter
- Dried fruit and nut trail mix
- Small tin of tuna with wholegrain crackers
- Fruit smoothie with skim milk, honey, sliced banana and strawberries
Is it time to take charge of nutrition and/or performance and productivity at your workplace? Contact us today.