The root cause of most diseases is inflammation. One proven method to help reduce inflammation is to monitor and have control over what we consume. As 70 percent of our immune system lives in our stomach, we can safely assume what we eat and drink plays a huge role in our health. Among other factors such as our behaviors, eating habits, how we manage our stress and how well we sleep at night, all have an impact our health.
We are all unique individuals and what works for one person might not work for another. If we can determine what works for each of us, it could be one step in the right direct to help minimize potential health risks. But before we can do that,we need to answer two key questions:
- What can individuals or employees do to minimize disease and inflammation in the body?
- How can companies support their employees to meet these goals?
First, let's review a few of the ways employees can take responsibility to reduce inflammation and minimize disease by implementing some, or all, of the below into their daily routines.
- Hydrate: Water is critical in hydrating your cells and flushing out toxins in your body. It's crucial that you drink plenty of water. The rule of thumb is to divide your weight by 2 and that is approximately how many ounces of water you should drink. Also, if you have a caffeinated beverage, even herbal tea, it is recommended you add an additional 16 ounces of water per 1 of these beverages. You may be going to the bathroom more, but think of all the benefits your body, health and skin will gain from drinking more H2O.
- Nutrition: Nutrition is key. Eating plenty of veggies and lean protein is ideal, but you also want to include probiotic rich foods. These include sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, homemade pickles, raw cheese, raw milk, raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar and any fermented food.
- Movement: Sitting is the new smoking. It's true our bodies were not made to sit all day, so it's important to exercise and do something to move your body. Walking is a great start; aim for 10,000 steps a day, or do an activity or sport you love so it doesn't feel like such a drag!
- Sleep: Sleep helps us repair and prepare our body for each new day. Getting 7-8 hours of quality sleep is important. To help you sleep more soundly, remove all electronics from your room and try to power them down at least 1-hour before bed. I know this seems unrealistic in today's technology driven world, but you can fill that hour with a hot bath, deep breathing exercises, sipping herbal chamomile tea or taking melatonin or valerian root as a natural sleep aid. Regardless, find a ritual that works and try to get those 7-8 hours of rest.
- Mental Diet: How we think and respond can make a huge difference on our health. Keeping a positive attitude and thought process can help us stay grateful for our life. Our bodies are amazing machines that keep us going so be grateful that you can move as some people are not as blessed.
- Stress Reduction: Stress is a part of life, but you need to figure out a way to better cope that works for you as an individual. It could be exercise, breathing techniques, massage, meditation, music, etc. Try different techniques out when you feel the stress coming and see if you can find something that works for you.
- Supplements: The nutrient quality in our food has decreased over time due to soil degradation, pollution and many other factors. It's important to make sure you are getting most of your nutrients from eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, but supplements can help. The supplements I prioritize are Multi-Vitamin, Omega 3's, Vitamin D, Digestive Enzyme and Probiotics. With that said, I do think that supplements can just be expensive pee as some call it and I would agree especially if you are not trying to get your nutrients mainly from whole foods, which should be everyone's goal.
Second, let's examine a few ideas on how companies can support their employees with the above so that they can receive an increase in engagement and presentism.
- Provide filtered or bottle water to encourage your employees to stay hydrated. You can even give them BPA-Free water bottles with your logo as a gift.
- Include healthy snacks like fruit, raw nuts, cut veggies, etc. instead of candy bowls or high-carb snacks in the office. Let's avoid the 3 pm sugar crash!
- Try rewards that are not food based. Instead of a pizza party try bringing in a massage therapist for chair massages instead. If you absolutely need to bring in food, work with your local area healthy restaurants or organic grocery stores to bring in options that support your corporate wellness message.
- Encourage employees to get up from their desk multiple times a day to walk or stretch their legs. Many companies are providing discounts or incentivizing top performers with wearable technology like Fitbits to help encourage employees to get up and exercise.
- Consider ergonomic support for your employees to make sure they are not creating poor sitting or computer habits that could cause them eye strain, neck or back pain. This includes desk variation options for partial or full standing desks.
- Encourage a positive culture, which starts from the top of the organization on down. Have your executives and managers lead by example making sure the way they speak is positive and uplifting especially when around those they manage. Although it is unrealistic to do this 100 percent of the time, it is important that the leaders of the organization end their conversations on a positive note. You can always find one thing that the company or the team is doing right!
As with everything, there is no one size fits all when it comes to our individual health or setting up corporate wellness programs. These ideas will get you started, but I highly recommend that you ask and survey your employees. Let's not assume what they want, but talk to them so that they tell you what they want in a corporate wellness program. Ultimately, this will provide the proper foundation to your programs so your employees will be engaged, present and most importantly healthy.
About the Author
Alison Brehme is a Corporate Wellness Consultant, Nutrition Coach and published author on various websites. After years working stressful corporate jobs she is now helping SMB's create ROI-driven corporate wellness programs and educating women in managerial roles how to get beyond the work-life balance myth using the power of nature.