Nutrition for the Business Executive

Nutrition for the Business Executive

Except there isn’t a special species “Business Executive” – most of us, even if harder to believe about some than others, are human. Demands of modern, business life are great and often intense. Time for self is badly restricted – but more than ever we need to operate at our best. Physical health and resilience are critical. Good cognitive function is essential. The natural pattern of operating at high demand and then reverting to whatever “normal” is, is frequently disrupted. The level at which we need to function now can stay high for excessively long periods – to the point of all day, every day. This mode of operating uses increased amounts of water and nutrients. The brain is one of the highest users of nutrients and energy in the body. It is also very high water content – between 75% and 85%.

The body’s powers of adaptation keep us well and functioning, even when we are not eating the ideal diet. The body has a very acute sense of survival; it will keep going and go with us, whether we are providing ideal conditions or not. It puts up with a great deal of abuse. What that often means is that a lot of time we humans are generally able to get away with not eating the ideal diet or providing the ideal lifestyle. The more the operating level has to stay high for prolonged periods, the less we are going to “get away with” long term. Our body and our brain are exceptional at sticking with us and keeping us going – but that has traditionally been on a pattern where there are more times of reprieve. The longer we have sustained levels of high demands, the more worthwhile it is to stop bending the rules and try and stick to a user-friendly formula.

As well as eating because we like eating or like food – the requirement to eat is to provide the body with the raw ingredients it needs to perform the millions of functions it carries out, all the time. The more efficiently it can perform, the more energy we have for what we are doing and the healthier our body is to stay pain free, flexible, free from infections, illness and disease. What we eat is the supermarket for our cells. We need to provide a selection of good stuff and not find some shelves empty. A lot of modern shopping and eating habits focus on a very narrow range of food and we are inclined to be repetitive. Trying to include different foods and seasonal foods and including herbs and spices can significantly increase the nutrients available.

Nutrition is the obvious, practical way to look after ourselves, our brains and our bodies – and our performance. High achievers, celebrities and the sports elite choose to incorporate good nutrition practice because it works. It’s also common sense.

The basics

Plenty of good quality water:

hydration is eagerly welcomed by your eyes, skin, brain, internal organs (liver, kidneys, pancreas, stomach, digestive system, immune system and so much more) – it also helps carry toxins and rubbish away which is very important for high level performance.

Good food:

Proportionate quantities of carbs, proteins and fats.
(with 5% – 10% tolerance/variation either way).
25% carbs, grains and root veg.
25% good proteins.
25% leafy greens/salads.
25% other veg and fruit.
Include good fats and oils. Avoid trans fats and margarines.

Examples of healthy eating choices

BANT Healthy Eating Plate

Harvard Healthy Eating Plate

To mix the quotes of many; not too much, not too little, not too often, often enough, as natural as possible. For thousands of years we ate ok and stayed healthy without needing scientific nutritional advice – it shouldn’t be that difficult, should it? A basic re-injection of the ancient knowledge and principles we always had can restore a natural, inherited logic. If we supply the body with a useful selection of ingredients, the simple marvel is, that it can do the rest. It knows what to do. Equipping ourselves now with good nutrition advice is simply restoring the wisdom we always had which is probably the best explanation of why it is so interesting and popular. Our high achieving public figures, sports’ stars and celebrities wouldn’t be incorporating nutrition advice into busy lives if it didn’t work. It works.

So why is the choice of what we eat so connected to firing on all cylinders, cognitive function, energy. Food is food isn’t it? A calorie is a calorie. Fortunately the choices are in our hands and make a great deal of difference. Eating and digesting is a significant workload on the body. If we are asking many other demands as well – making the fuel system and digestion simple is probably one of the most effective differences we can make.
We are very intricately and fantastically designed and if we work with that design we directly affect the results we can achieve. (If we don’t, vice versa).

A good, healthy breakfast.
Regular meals at regular times.
Slow-releasing carbs.
Include some protein with each meal.
Reduce, minimise and if you can eliminate stimulants – eg: coffee, sugar. They disrupt energy and create the peaks, slumps and crashes and trigger stress hormones and inflammation. High stress and low or erratic energy also create mood imbalances and adversely affect drive and motivation.

The modern world also seems to be full of so much advice and information – it can be way too much and contradictory. It’s quite simple really. Go with the design of the body.
Good food, not too much, not too little, not too often, often enough, as natural as possible.
Digesting processed foods increases the workload on the body – which has a high workload anyway – and provides less nutrients – so it is very poor payback

Improving nutrition, you’ll also be reducing risks of heart disease, diabetes, cancers and other chronic conditions and disabilities in later life.

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