Because fasting seems to improve health in mice and rats, some folks have decided to spend their days in similar fashion, existing on sips of air. Fasting, as writer Jennifer Alsever explains, deprives the body of glucose and forces it to steal ketones from the liver. Ketones are a backup energy meant to get us through periods of famine. (“(Very) Hungry For Success,” by Jennifer Alserver, Fortune, June 15, 2016, pg.41.) They increase neural network activity and energy levels that heighten our sensibility as we hunt for food.
Aware of the brain/keytones connection, a small startup company in San Francisco asks its workers to fast one day a week. The goal is to improve both the health and minds of their employees. Company owner, Geoffery Wo, compares the experience to “what I imagine a monk would feel, where your mind is disconnected from the body, less constrained.” (Ibid pg. 42.)
When I tried fasting, all I experienced was a heightened awareness of food. Normally, I don’t eat a hot fudge sundae for breakfast, but tell me I can’t and a sundae is all I can think about. Now days, I only fast before a colonoscopy. To be honest, I don’t know many people who deprive themselves of food on a regular basis, so I can’t speak to the benefits. Well, I lie. I did know one person who fasted. He turned out to be a wife beater, but I wouldn’t want to draw any inferences.
Kinder, gentler ways exist to increase our productivity without deprivation. Employees at Austin’s Natural Stacks hang upside down, like bats, on inversion machines. I’m not sure where bats stand in the evolutionary chain but for humans, the increased blood flow to the brain is supposed to help them think better. (“Great Moments In Productivity,” Fortune, June 15, 2016, pg. 42.) Alternatively, Ferray, a Japanese internet company, adopted 9 stray cats to keep workers productive. Another got more inventive. They took their cue from Benjamin Franklin who liked to sit naked while in thought. Employees were authorized to do the same. Unfortunately, when a local TV station appeared with cameras, the experiment was aborted. (Ibid pg. 42.)
If anyone cares, my formula for keeping productive is simple: a little laughter, a little song and plenty of chocolate.