Healthcare

A Scientific Approach to Increase Your Employees' Productivity

Have you had days when you feel so exhausted from working all day long, and you start forgetting things, mixing up dinner dates, or simply couldn't make a decision after staring at the menu for a few minutes? Have you ever felt like you are slower today or as described by LifeHub Hong Kong, that your brain is full of cotton candy?

What is BDNF?

If you have ticked any of the questions from above, you may be experiencing brain fog. Brain fog is a common term describing the difficulty or absence of concentration, loss of short-term memory, chronic mental fatigue, inability to make decisions, irritability, and lack of energy. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is an important protein that promotes and enhances the production of new cells. In general, BDNF release triggers a sequence of genes that develop new cells and brain pathways.

With a high level of BDNF, you can learn faster, remember more, age slower, and easily reconnect your mind. Elevated BDNF enhances the plasticity of the brain, suppresses brain inflammation, functions as a natural antidepressant, counteracts the negative effects of brain pressure, and defends the brain against neurodegenerative diseases. Evidence suggests that even lifespan can be managed.

On the other hand, a low level of BDNF can be the cause of many brain-related conditions. Some identified conditions are anxiety disorders, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorder, schizophrenia, dementia, Huntington's disease, Alzheimer's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, burnout syndrome, and suicidal behavior. However, researchers are still in the process of identifying the exact link between low BDNF and the identified disorders. There also have been studies on the correlation between deprived BDNF and obesity, hypertension and insomnia.

How to increase BDNF? What can be done in the workplace?

According to Dr. Deborah Wong from LifeHub, we can find the answers from the most simple things in our lives.

4 male colleagues playing ping pong

1. Encourage your team to exercise

The relationship between BDNF and exercise has been known for a long time, but recent researchers have found that exercise stimulates the gene which sends a signal to produce more BDNF. Although any kind of exercise will help an individual increase BDNF levels, some exercises help more than others. Higher BDNF rates were associated with mind-body movements involving synchronization and multi-plane movements such as dance, gyrotonic exercise, pilates, and yoga.

Workplace Tips: Organize regular yoga sessions in the office. Start with beginner to intermediate levels to allow more employees to participate without worrying about the difficulty. Diverse types of exercise would also give employees an opportunity to try out different exercises that may eventually turn into a habit. An afternoon off to a group boxing class may be just the thing for improved productivity and workplace bonding.

2. Get some sunlight

Concentrations of serum BDNF show strong seasonal variation and associations with the amount of ambient sunlight. Higher BDNF is seen during Spring and Summer than compared to Autumn and Winter. Many people know that sunlight is beneficial for vitamin D absorption and production, thinking that if they supplement with vitamin D, they don't need the sun. However, the intake of vitamin D supplements without exposure to sunlight actually decreased the BDNF level. Thus, it is crucial to get sunlight exposure even as short as a little walk during the lunch break.

Workplace Tips: Arrange team lunch at an al fresco restaurant. The relaxing atmosphere will surely brew creative and meaningful discussions for bonding as well. Another good practice would be taking a stroll to get some fresh air during lunch breaks.

plate of nutritious food with apples grapes crackers

3. Food is fuel for your brain

A rise in BDNF can be associated with many different foods. Although the reason is not obvious, it is known that these foods are anti-inflammatory and decrease the oxidative stress of the brain, which in turn increases BDNF levels. It is extremely important to fulfill the daily food intake that is well balanced with dark green leafy vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and high-quality protein.

Workplace Tips: Placing healthy food delivery menus in the office would be a handy way to encourage employees to opt for a healthier lunch choice. If office snacks are supplied, opt for fresh fruit delivery over packaged foods. It is also helpful to encourage them to bring home cooked meals to enjoy together in the office.

4. Help your team to get away from stress

Reducing stress levels and alleviating mental pressure is a big topic. Apart from increasing BDNF levels, anxiety and stress management can affect our well-being in a number of other ways. There are two major modes of action of our nervous system: the sympathetic nervous system, known as fight-or-flight, which is activated in response to stress; and the parasympathetic nervous system which is the body's state of relaxation, repair and digestion. As these two systems are in opposition, if our body is under constant stress, this seriously impairs our ability to digest food, get a good night's sleep, store long-term memories and heal from daily damage.

Workplace Tips: Purchase some board games, puzzles or brain teasers in the office that can encourage a fun culture among employees and in return reduce stress levels and trigger cognitive stimulation.

Apps recommended for your employees

According to Healthcare Guys, here are some mobile Apps that can help resolve some symptoms of brain fog:

To understand the stressors and root causes of your health complaints, LifeHub, partner of StartupCare takes an integrative approach to health which can give you an effective diagnosis with matching treatments to address physiological imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, mental health, and physical fitness. Get 10% off all testing using our promo code START11.

The fulfillment of employees' wellbeing needs correlates with better work performance and increased productivity. Learn more about StartupCare's employee health benefits solutions by speaking to our team here or Whatsapp us at +852 5379 8911.

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