The progress of the pandemic, being isolated for several weeks, low temperatures and rainy days are clearly not a contribution in improving our mood.
A study by Randstad on the health crisis found that 18.6% of Chilean workers surveyed admitted to feeling stressed, 11.2% anxious and 9.7% frustrated. In addition, 8.1% admitted to being depressed and 7% irritated by the current situation.
The figures clearly reflect a reality of many people, however, what we should know is that there are natural methods that improve our mood these days.
From the nutrition team of ISS Chile, a company that provides food services throughout the country, they detail five foods or components that we can consume and that will help to brighten our days. In addition, they explain what they generate in our bodies.
Chocolate: Cocoa, milk, cocoa butter and sugar are the ingredients of chocolate, which together manage to generate Serotonin, the neurotransmitter that gets the feeling of satisfaction, joy and well-being.
Fructose: Sugar present in fruits. For those looking to get this feeling of happiness and avoid processed sweets, this is the best option. What is recommended by nutritionists in ISS Chile is to eat at least five servings a day, considering vegetables and fruits.
Omega 3: Healthy fatty acids that are present in most fish. This component improves communication between areas of the brain and therefore achieves emotional, mood and behavioral stability.
Nuts: This dried fruit is rich in Tryptophan, one of the amino acids that stimulates Serotonin production. The component is not produced naturally, so we should worry about consuming food that has it.
Meat: Like nuts, beef, chicken and pork have Tryptophan. Also, they are sources of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone. This last point is extremely important because to stay active and cheerful, we must worry about sleeping at least eight hours a day.
By consuming these foods we can improve our mood. In addition, the team of experts advises physical activity at least 30 minutes a day, as this will generate endorphin – also known as the happiness hormone – which works as a natural painkiller and helps control anxiety and stress levels.
Improving job performance
In Chile most people have a working day of 9 hours a day a day on average, so it is essential to feed well to perform and have a good quality of working life. Currently, most people’s dietary patterns are based on a diet with high energy density, i.e. with more total fat and sugar added to food, low intake of complex carbohydrates, fiber, fruits and vegetables, and high sodium consumption, which is closely related to the intensification of chronic diseases such as diabetes cancer and heart disease, which affect adults, including large numbers of workers.
«Food and nutrition are strongly linked to the biological functioning of the organism. Food has a direct impact on our cognitive activity, so deciding what we’re going to have for breakfast and lunch on a business day is deeply important if we want to perform well. In fact, food is an undisputed part of lifestyles and that’s where it’s clearly recognized as a determinant of health,» explains Elizabeth Luna, Sodexo’s nutritionist.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has considered the workplace as a priority environment for health promotion in the 21st century, due to the importance of the workforce and the economic impact it has on production levels, so it is evident the importance of raising awareness and educating employees when choosing their food. In addition, according to a World Health Organization report, adequate food and physical activity practice in workers can increase productivity levels by 20%.
The nutritionist explains that «the world’s population is affected by nutritional problems of excess or deficit, anemia, hypoglycemia significantly affect performance, coordination and decrease physical working capacity. That’s right as our body converts almost everything we eat into glucose, that is, it gives us the energy needed to our brain to be attentive and to our body to do all the daily activities. Therefore, if we are running out of glucose, this generates hypoglycemia, in other words, low blood sugar, that is, low energy, which causes our attention to disperse, so when we are on an empty stomach it becomes very difficult for us to concentrate, also producing fatigue, a feeling of exhaustion and tiredness.
Another important factor is knowing that our body does not process all food at the same rate. «Pastas, bread and cereals release glucose very quickly, like an explosion of energy. However, other foods, such as fatty meats and sausages, require greater work of our digestive system, reducing oxygen levels in the brain and making us feel heavy and slow, generating an upset throughout the body» says Elizabeth Elizabeth
For this reason, the expert always recommends a healthy diet, because in addition to giving a better nutritional contribution to our body, it prevents cardiovascular diseases, reduces stress, fatigue or minor diseases such as flu or colds.
«Stress, anxiety and overwork can cause people to change their eating habits by overeating or skipping food. Both are harmful to health. Another important factor is the time that people spend preparing for food, people who are not organized tend to buy junk or ultra-processed food to get out of the way, which eventually becomes an unhealthy habit,» Luna says.
Healthy eating helps your body function properly. Therefore, the recommendation is to avoid the consumption of sugar, such as sweets, drinks and sugary juices, avoid the consumption of frying and foods with fats such as cecinas and mayonnaise, decrease the consumption of alcohol and avoid above all distillates, since the higher degree of alcohol more calories. Increase consumption of baked fish and legumes twice a week, always avoiding mixing them with sausages such as longanizas or sausage.
To maintain a varied diet, it is essential to ensure that about 50% of the daily diet is based on live foods, i.e. fruits and vegetables. Another energy food, nuts, these are characterized by being very healthy, can be included in the diet to replace other less healthy snacks, contributing to good cardiovascular health.