Last week in Part I, we were all about bad nutrition and productivity and skipping lunch. This week, the debate continues with mentions of the (for some) dreaded broccoli, superfoods and eating well at work.

Two journalists battled it out; one had spent time working in France, where lunch was always taken away from one’s desk. The other said that she would far rather power through her lunch break and have her sandwich at her desk as it would give her more time after work to spend with her family.

It would seem that having lunch away from your desk is the way to go, according to studies at the University of California. Taking the time out of your work environment gives your brain a breather and allows your brain to ‘power up’ and go back to work refreshed and ready for the next haul. Sitting at your desk doesn’t allow for that brain refresh. I’d say it’s similar to power napping, which I do and believe it works. (That’s a whole other topic for another blog).


*In the nineties, it was all about organic food. Then along came the concept of “superfoods,” a term used to describe foods that are supposedly really, really good for you. But it turned out to be more of a re-branding exercise for otherwise fairly mundane supermarket produce, like berries.  And if you ask a scientist, the term superfood actually means something completely different. It’s used in academia to refer to calorie-dense food, like chocolate (aha!).


Apparently, the little green forest trees (as I like to call them), have been shown to help the immune system to clean harmful bacteria from the lungs. A compound found in the vegetable is now being trialled as a treatment for people with lung disease.

To ensure that the lungs function correctly, white blood cells called macrophages remove debris and bacteria that can build up in the lungs and cause infection.

**This cleaning system is defective in smokers and people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – a combination of emphysema and bronchitis – who suffer from frequent infections.

Now, researchers have figured out that a chemical pathway in the lungs called NRF2, involved in macrophage activation, is wiped out by smoking. They also found that sulphoraphane, a plant chemical that is made by broccoli, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables when damaged, such as when chewed, can restore this pathway. 

A brief aside here – I’m not lauding cauliflower because people have been raving about ‘delicious, creamy’ cauliflower mash that you make in place of mashed potato. Problem is I don’t have a blender, so I tried to hand mash the cauliflower. Let’s just say that cauliflower will not be darkening my door again, for some time.

Eating well

When surveyed by researchers from Nottingham University, staff at the UK’s National Health Service said they felt they had a responsibility to set an example for healthy eating at work. But the American Journal of Public Health found that for healthy eating habits at work to take any effect, workers’ families also had to get on board. What people eat at work is linked to their overall lifestyles and attitudes to nutrition.

I must say I do like the can-do attitude of the people at the NHS. Overall, I think it is important, as your working day takes up a lot of your hours awake (bar those power naps), to make sure that the powers-that-be in your work environment focus on your well-being too. Is there a water cooler? A water boiler? A hot drinks dispenser? Are there kitchen facilities at your workplace? Some type of eating station?

If not, perhaps you should squeak up and point out to said powers the clear benefits between nutrition and productivity.

*Excerpts from an article in Quartz.

**Excerpts from an article in the New Scientist