Diet and mental health: how this can benefit the workplace
Science shows there is a strong connection between diet and mental health. Here’s how your company can implement this concept to further benefit the workplace.
Mental health continues to be a well-researched topic, and for good reason, as 60% of people claim to have experienced symptoms of a mental health condition in the last year. This is a concerning statistic, since symptoms of declining mental health include depression, lack of interest in activities or social connections, irritability, and increased anger.
As an employer, it’s important to create a work environment that promotes everyone’s physical and mental well-being. But caring for your employees’ mental health goes beyond offering additional time off; science shows that nutrition plays a major role in mood.
Here’s what you need to know about food and mood, and how you can implement this concept of mental health and nutrition in the workplace.
The science behind food and mood
Food is intimately connected to how people feel–both physically and mentally. A healthful diet has long been associated with lower risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers, and studies continue to show a strong link between nutrition and mental health.
As an employer, it’s important to understand how nutrition can affect your employees’ mood, the workplace environment, and overall work satisfaction. Furthermore, good morale can stem from a lack of workplace stress, which may lead to better working relationships and fewer negative behaviors.
Tip: Learn more about health affects productivity.
How does nutrition affect mental health?
Studies show that a nutritious diet plays an integral role for treating stress-related mood disorders and obesity.
Stress can increase the chances of overeating, which has been shown to contribute to obesity and/or metabolic syndrome (increased blood pressure, glucose levels, excess body fat and elevated cholesterol levels). This can also cause changes in neurotransmitters in the gut and brain which have effects on both mood and subsequent eating behaviors.
Diet and mental health: the best foods to improve mood
The foods we eat have been shown to greatly impact mental health. Here are some science-backed foods to improve your employees’ mood.
Fatty fish. Fatty fish such as salmon contain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which have been shown to positively improve depression.
Dark chocolate. 85% dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, polyphenols, and isoflavones, which have been found to decrease depression symptoms, lower cortisol (the main hormone involved with stress), and alter gut microbial diversity, all of which can positively impact mood.
Fermented foods. Fermented foods, such as kimchi, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut, are great sources of probiotics. These can improve gut health, which may help lower symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Oats. Oats provide the fiber that helps to stabilize blood sugar levels, which in turn can have a positive impact on mood and energy levels.
Walnuts. Studies have found that people who ate walnuts experienced lower depression scores compared to those who didn’t eat walnuts. This may be because walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been found to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Water. Studies have found an inverse association between plain water consumption and symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Supplements. Supplementation can be beneficial for a variety of reasons, but certain ones, like folate, vitamin D, and magnesium, have been found to positively benefit depression, mood, and brain function.
How to discuss diet and mental health in the workplace
While you can’t demand that your employees follow strict dietary guidelines, you can offer tools that make healthy eating patterns easier to access. Here are some ways that you can discuss the connection between diet and mental health in the workplace.
Raise awareness. Many of your employees may not realize the connection between nutrition and mental health. You can raise awareness on this topic by offering some webinars or adding nutrition tips to your internal newsletter.
Make it convenient. You can encourage your clients to make more nutritious food choices by making it convenient. This could include swapping out food in vending machines, providing a fridge in the breakroom, or offering discounts/incentives for healthy food delivery options.
Offer food swaps. Try offering healthier choices at work meetings by swapping donuts for fresh fruit. You can also choose catering choices that include a variety of salads, sandwiches, and vegetables.
How can Nutrium Care help my team?
By providing your employees access to the tools they need to manage their mental health, you can improve your company’s bottom line, boost productivity, and further enhance the workplace environment.
Nutrium Care can help your team by improving your employees’ mental and physical health. We address many dimensions of employee well-being, including sleep issues, weight management, chronic diseases, bad eating habits, and more. These have also been shown to negatively impact mental health and stress levels, which is why Nutrium Care is a good option for addressing these issues.
Here’s how the program works:
Online appointments with nutrition experts. Each employee can choose a specialized nutritionist and have their first online nutrition appointment. The nutritionist creates a personalized plan and works with employees to help them achieve their health and wellness goals.
Direct access to a nutritionist. After the first appointment, employees can communicate directly with the nutritionist at any time with the Nutrium mobile app. They also have their meal plan always at hand and receive important notifications to remind them to eat or drink water. Our nutritionists can also work with your employees on mindful eating or intuitive eating, as these eating principles, have been found to improve someone’s relationship with food.
Educational materials. The entire process is accompanied by relevant information for a healthier life, through newsletters, webinars, and personalized workshops, created especially for each company. We also offer well-being in the workplace training.
Contact us if you’re interested in adding Nutrium Care to your business strategy!
Science continues to show that diet and mental health are closely connected. As an employer, it’s important to create a work environment that promotes your employees’ physical and mental well-being. You can raise awareness, offer food swaps, make nutrition convenient, and take advantage of Nutrium Care.