A healthy working adult is a productive individual both at home and at the workplace. It is therefore important to remind ourselves that the workplace is not some abstract business generality – it is about people – individual workers and executives. People who deal with the joys and challenges of life, including physical and mental health challenges. From stress to obesity, the American worker is increasingly faced with several health difficulties. One recent study found that business leaders and executives identified stress, depression and the resulting productivity loss as the top health issue negatively affecting their firm’s bottom line (34%). This is closely followed by unhealthy lifestyles (33%).
As a result, the mental and physical health of workers is gradually becoming a priority for many corporations looking to improve worker productivity and contain rising cost of health insurance. Many CEOs and business leaders are now much more supportive of workplace health and wellness initiatives. In a recent study about employee health and business success, about 90% of businesses said that improving workforce health and productivity is an essential component of their overall health strategy. Additionally, about 98% of corporations surveyed indicated their commitment to improving health and productivity in the near future.
Therefore, the popularity of workplace wellness programs have grown. Directors of corporate wellness programs now adopt various nontraditional health activities, like meditation or mindfulness, to complement more traditional health activities. One wonders if it is time to seriously consider incorporating intermittent fasting as an integral part of workplace and individual wellness. Recent studies suggest that it may be time for busy executives and program directors to include intermittent fasting in workplace wellness initiatives.
The biggest contributors to health risks, especially for busy professionals and executives are stress and inactivity. The demands of work, recurring deadlines and difficult interpersonal relationships pile up stress for many. Busy schedules mean little time left to exercise or engage in physical activities like walking or exercise. Under those scenarios, it takes tenacity to remain fit and healthy in a high-paced work culture like ours. To help workers continue to improve their health even when they are unable to be more active, it may be time to take a good look at the benefits of intermittent fasting.
After reviewing over seventy years of peer-vetted studies, published in top scientific journals, one writer came to the conclusion, like many others, that intermittent fasting offers significant health-improving opportunities. Almost all studies done in animal models – from rats to rhesus monkeys – show that fasting (caloric restriction) improves most biomarkers of health, and reduced the risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and cancer. Before now, many studies done on human studies have been important but not conclusive. However, recent human studies have shown similar health benefits. Take this latest study from the University of Southern California published in Science Translational Medicine journal. This was a fully randomized clinical trial involving humans. 100 participants were randomly put into two groups: people who either consumed a fasting-mimicking diet for 5 days each month for 3 months, or people who maintained their normal diet for 3 months. Out of the 100, 71 individuals completed the study. After three months, the two groups were screened and analyzed for specific health biomarkers. The results showed that fasting decreased body mass index (BMI), blood glucose, triglycerides, cholesterol, and C-reactive protein (a marker for inflammation).
Although studies involving larger human subjects are needed, it is clear from this randomized study, like others before it, that fasting has important health benefits, especially for people who are at greater risk of disease. No, it does not mean that intermittent fasting is the panacea for all health issues. Instead, it means that it is about time wellness programs and busy professionals took notice.
What about it?
- Perhaps it is time for you as an individual worker to consider intermittent fasting. The evidence in scientific literature is significant and piling up daily.
- Intermittent fasting can be done even while you are busy. Therefore, it is a good fit for busy CEOs and executives like you.
- It only needs to be done intermittently and at regular intervals to be beneficial. That means you do not have to completely change your diet or lifestyle to benefit from its health-inducing effects.
- A little help and encouragement from workplace wellness departments will go a long way. May be the time has come for wellness program directors to come alongside their workers and provide them with the training they need to reap the benefits of intermittent fasting.
Detailed scientific evidence in support of intermittent fasting can be found here: Fasting For Life (https://www.amazon.com/dp/1629986267). Feel free to check out the full book – it will be well worth your time.