Corporate wellness trends in Ireland are on the up as more and more companies realise the benefits of supporting employee health and wellbeing in the workplace. Meanwhile, Ireland is decades deep into a booming coffee culture – undoubtedly a steadfast feature of today’s 9-5 lifestyle.
A 2016 survey by Office Depot/Viking shows just how much Irish people love their Jo, with 67% of respondents reporting that they drink two-to-four cups a day. And, of course, there’s the superfans, namely the one in ten Irish people who enjoy five-to-seven mugs of the black stuff daily.
Moreover, coffee has infiltrated the way we structure our days and business activities: Think for instance of how often you hear “coffee break:, “coffee meeting”, “free for a coffee?” or, my personal favourite “let’s sit down over a coffee”. It’s almost like we can’t do business without it.
Now would be a good time to admit my own guilt. I love coffee, both for the energy kick it gives me throughout the day and the social facilitation it offers. But caffeine is a stimulant, which by its nature means that too much is inevitably bad for us. So as a coffee-drinking corporate wellness service provider I thought I better check in on where the line is drawn between Cafe Workplace and workplace wellbeing.
The good news for coffee-drinkers
It’s better news than I thought. 2 a day is ok! Hurray!
Ciara Wright, Nutritionist with The Wellness Crew, tells us that “ Caffeine, in moderation, can stimulate the mind and increase clarity and focus”. Since coffee has about twice the caffeine as tea she recommends 2 cups of coffee per day or 3-4 cups of tea max, and warns that any more than this could have a nefative effect.
The bad news for coffee-drinkers
According to Ciara, “With more than 2 cups of coffee a day, the positive effects give way to possible overstimulation (the jitters anyone?) or feelings of tiredness later in the day, a bit like a sugar crash. Caffeine is also a diuretic so too much will make us dehydrated in the long run. This reduces our concentration and productivity and can make us feel sluggish.”
This chimes with the advice of David Asprey – coffee inventor, who says that 2 cups of coffee is the maximum a person should consume per day. And I’m pretty sure ‘tall’ and ‘grande’ weren’t on his mind back then! He also recommends that this coffee allowance should preferably be consumed before 12 noon, as 25% is still in your system by midnight.
No surprises then that The Wellness Crew Sleep Coach Aisling Killoran suggests avoiding caffeine, along with spicy food, 4-6 hours before bedtime.
So, what can we do to helps employees stick to these recommendations?
- Provide decaf coffee so employees can swap to this in the afternoon.
- Provide a range of herbal teas. You can motivate employees with a health benefits chart for each type of tea next to the tea station, or why not promote a herbal tea of the week/month. According to Ciara Wright, there are endless varieties of herbal tea, but we should try a ginger or peppermint-base for after-lunch digestive support or chamomile later in the day to ward off stress and anxiety.
So it turns out the corporate wellness experts don’t slam coffee culture and the two can exist harmoniously together…. in moderation. 2 a day is ok, especially before 12 noon. This will take a little bit of adjustment for me, but it’s certainly doable. And maybe in time “sit down over an infusion water” will mean the same productive meeting of minds that “coffee” represents…. although, of course, the new corporate wellness trend for standing could change things around altogether – “Let’s stand up over infusion water”! But I’ll leave that discussion for another time.
Thanks for reading! For more articles check out The Wellness Crew blog.