Business of Well-being

Creating a Culture of Health

Today there is a problem affecting every employee and business in this country: our Health crisis.Nearly three quarters of all Americans are overweight or obese. This puts them at high risk for a whole host of diseases including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and more. Obesity not only affects individuals, it impacts their employers and fellow employees by decreasing productivity and increasing healthcare costs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, medical expenses for obese employees are estimated to be 42 percent higher than for a person with healthy weight. As health care costs continue to rise at twice the rate of inflation, more and more corporate profits are lost to health care costs!

The American Heart Association found that cardiovascular disease accounted for fewer than 10 percent of all deaths a century ago; today it accounts for approximately 30 percent worldwide. The increase in heart disease was due to a proliferation of risk factors that are heavily influenced by lifestyle choices.

It is those lifestyle choices that can be changed with the right information and incentive. Many people including highly intelligent successful individuals spend their lives confused about what foods to eat mostly because of misleading marketing and advertising. They are confused by the wealth of information on diet and lifestyle practices.

Should they eat carbs, low fats, no fats or protein?  They are constantly bombarded by new diets such as the Atkins Diet, South Beach Diet, Zone Diet, and Cabbage Soup Diet. Market data reports 60 billion dollars a year are spent on diet and weight loss products and yet three-quarters of all Americans are overweight or obese.

Up to two-thirds of all the people who go on a diet gain all the weight back plus more according to the University of California. How can your employees find their Way2Wellness and create a culture of health when you don't have a road map?

You need to help your employees navigate the world of contradictory nutrition advice and determine what changes are necessary for them. You can do this by a adopting a Corporate Wellness Program. Here is what you can expect if you do.

Increased productivity.

A NASA study found that the productivity of non-exercising employees decreased by 50 percent during the last 2 hours of the workday. While those on an exercise plan worked at full efficiency all day!

Fewer absentee reports.

Studies at large corporations which implemented wellness education and programming found 14 percent to 45 percent reductions in absenteeism.

Reduced healthcare expenditures.

Many companies report that employee wellness programs produce a healthier, happier and more productive workforce. Every dollar invested can reap up to $4.00 in reduced health care costs. The number of companies offering incentives to encourage healthier lifestyles among employees is growing.  

It is 41 percent according to USA Today. A good place to start is to educate your employees on how to make good food choices.  Most of the conventional foods and fast foods today are nothing but empty calories. It is very important to eat foods that are full of vitamins and minerals that give you energy instead of rob you of energy.

Most people want to be healthy and they want to eat healthy. The problem is they focus on the negatives, potential barriers and roadblocks that prevent them from succeeding. They think of reasons why it won't work such as, healthy food doesn't taste good, it takes too long to prepare or it's too expensive.

Good nutrition is critically important to good health.  According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), nearly 12.6 million households (11 percent) in the United States were "food insecure" - meaning their access to adequate food was limited by lack of money and other resources.

Many families think that it's too expensive to eat a nutritious diet.  That is simply not true! There are plenty of healthy foods that can satisfy your palate, won't take a lot of time to prepare, and won't break your pocketbook.

There are many foods that fit into this category.  You can have it all!Eating healthy foods can prevent disease, give us more energy and help us to enjoy longevity. Here are three simple to prepare and affordable foods that anyone can easily incorporate into their diet:

Cucumbers are more than just a salad accoutrement; they are tasty, healthy and enjoyed on virtually every continent. Because of their versatile flavor they are easily incorporated into many types of cuisine.

They have not received as much press as other vegetables in terms of health benefits, but there are many reasons to add this vegetable to your diet on a regular basis. Cucumbers contain potent nutrients that help cleanse the body and keep the digestive system working properly.

Since they have high water and low sugar content, they are one of the best kidney cleansers. As a diuretic, they flush toxins out of your body, help prevent bloating due to water retention, and wash the kidneys and bladder of debris and stones.

Some minerals and vitamins they contain are A, C, E, K, B, phosphorus, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, and selenium which help support the immune system. Cucumbers even contain an enzyme called erepsin. Erepsin helps breakdown high protein foods in your digestive tract so they can be easily processed.  

Some antioxidant compounds include sulfur and silica found in the skin of the cucumber. These two compounds help keep our skin, nails, and hair very healthy and vibrant. So if possible, buy fresh organic cucumbers so you can eat the skins.

Avocados might seem too rich with their irresistible buttery taste to be a wholesome part of a healthy diet. But they are. So if you've been told to avoid avocado because of its high caloric and fat content you should reconsider. Despite any drawbacks, avocados have many nutritional benefits.

They are an excellent source of healthy raw fat which most people are seriously deficient in. Avocados provide nearly 20 essential nutrients including iron, zinc, manganese, copper, vitamins A, C, E, B-vitamins and folic acid. One avocado has three times the potassium of a banana.

Potassium is beneficial to the body by lowering the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and cancer.Avocados are also a great source of fiber. Each fruit contains 10 grams. Fiber is known to help prevent high blood pressure, heart disease, and certain types of cancer, particularly colon cancer.

Avocados also act as a "nutrient booster" by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients from other foods such as alpha and beta-carotene and lutein.

Leeks have been valued by many civilizations including the Ancient Greeks and Romans for their medicinal powers. Because they are closely related to onion and garlic, they share some of their benefits which include reducing the risk of colon, stomach and prostate cancer and lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.

Leeks contain many flavonoid anti-oxidants, minerals, and vitamins that have proven health benefits. They are one of the best sources of dietary fiber which energizes the body's many functions including digestion and metabolism. Leeks are also a good source of manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, folate, calcium, potassium and iron.

In addition to the health benefits mentioned above, leeks also act as an antiseptic and help the body fight against infection and contamination. Their mild sweet flavor makes them an excellent substitute for regular onions. They are favored in some recipes because they can be used more liberally without fear of over powering the flavor of the other ingredients.

You can make a great chilled soup using these three ingredients. To create a culture of health you should provide your employees the tools and knowledge they need to choose healthy foods that are affordable, pleasing to their palate and don't take a lot of time to prepare.

Creating a culture of health will help your employees feel less stressed, more energized, happier and more productive. If you invest in your employees' health today, you will reap returns, many times your investment.

About The Author

Donna Haybarger is a Board Certified Holistic Health Coach and a Member of the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. She has developed a Corporate Wellness Audio Series "Eating for Energy and Longevity".  Her audio series encourages healthy eating and other lifestyle changes that discourage the development of disease.

Learn about how you can become a Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist→