Productivity: A Product of Physiological Homeostatic Processes
Improving employee productivity demands science, not just words of encouragement from the boss.
First let’s discuss our body’s aspired state…. – physiological homeostasis.
The body’s continual attempt to maintain a constant internal environment, what I call our inner ecosystem. Maintaining this stable ecosystem requires constant monitoring and adjustments as conditions change. Our environment, food choices, physical activity, sleep, exposure to physiological stressors, oxidative stressors all impact the body’s ability to achieve physiological homeostasis.
2012 Brigham Young University, 20,000 Employees.
- Employees with unhealthy diets were 66 percent more likely to report having a loss in productivity
- Employees who had difficulty exercising during the day were 96 percent more likely to have increased productivity loss
- Employees who rarely eat fruits, vegetables and other low-fat foods at work were 93 percent more likely to have a higher loss in productivity
- Smokers were 28 percent more likely to report suffering from a drop in productivity
- Those who didn’t believe their workplace would support them in becoming healthier were more likely to have a drop in productivity.
The first 4 were of no surprise to me – As a proud science geek, my specialty is working with employees on the reduction of oxidative stress. These first 4 are all productivity zappers as they all contribute to oxidative stress (OS) and chronic inflammation. Not only are they productivity zappers, inflammation is the root of all of our chronic illnesses, most notably: cancer, heart disease, depression, frailty………OS is also the #1 reason for premature aging.
But the 5th point – those who didn’t believe their workplace would support them in becoming healthier were more likely to have a drop in productivity – there is a call to action for effective wellness programs.
A brief explanation of oxidative stress:
Oxidative Stress: The imbalance between the production of free radicals in the body and the ability of the body to neutralize / detoxify their harmful effects with antioxidants. ….In other words – the body’s inability to achieve physiological homeostasis.
Free Radicals: A molecule that has a single unpaired electron in an outer shell ….ROS
Antioxidants: neutralize free radicals either by providing the extra electron needed to make the pair, or by breaking down the free radical molecule to render it harmless. Making good food choices is an excellent source of antioxidants.
It is really ironic that oxygen, an element indispensable for life can under certain situations have several harmful and damaging effects on the human body. Oxygen is vital, yet it has a dark side. Oxygen free radicals occur just by breathing but excessive amounts of these free radicals occur when we are exposed to oxidative stress.
Our body is constantly bombarded with oxidative stressors…endocrine disruptors, microbial imbalance, hormonal causes including impact of body fat, smoking, alcohol……
And unfortunately – the antidote to OS, well, we just don’t provide this quite as regularly to our body as we should.
Physiological stress is the cause of “stress”. Its not running late with the report you were supposed to get to the boss. Its the effect on your body from stressing over that report, that matters. The better equipped our body is to handle stress, from a physiological standpoint, the better off we are to weather the daily storms that inevitably cross our paths. The more adept we are at handling physiological stress, the better we are at focusing, being productive to weather the storm.
Another way to look at this is acute stress vs. chronic stress.
Acute stress – yes – getting that report in on time. However, continuous acute stressors, combined with a compromised biology to handle stress can lead to chronic stress.
Chronic stress happens when the body cannot achieve homeostasis from the many OS, and can leave our body’s stress response continually in overdrive, and can continue to erode our function right down to our DNA.
Productivity Suffers – Oxidative Stress on the Brain:
- Stress accumulates in an area of the brain called the amygdala. As this worsens, we enter a cycle of fear and anxiety
- Potentially diminish our production of fresh brain cells
- Reduce levels of our neurotransmitters which can lead to depression
- Effect our breathing pattern
- Effect our hippocampus responsible for memory
- Prefrontal cortex responsible for decision making and impulsive behavior
- Makes the blood brain barrier more permeable, allowing toxins in
- Reduces the size of our telomeres
- Cause brain inflammation
This is just the effects on the brain. Can we see why productivity is a physiological issue? As much as an employee is told to step up a notch – we have to take a look inside, examine how productivity is being compromised by a struggling physiology.
Best In Corporate Health: Optimizing our inner ecosystem with targeted, effective wellness programs, the real key to employee productivity
Help control workforce oxidative stress: 7 patents, 24 peer reviewed studies on pubmed, accolades from American Heart Association, Mayo Clinic, National Institute on Aging….Washington State: “may well become the most extraordinary therapeutic and most extraordinary preventative breakthrough in the history of medicine.”
Corporate health programs…what a wonderful way to affordably make the world a happier, healthier place.
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