The Importance of Digestive Wellness

April 25, 2024

Employers often focus on traditional wellness programs targeting physical fitness and mental health in the pursuit of a productive and thriving workforce. However, one area that is often overlooked but equally vital is digestive wellness. A healthy digestive system contributes to physical well-being and impacts mental resilience and productivity. By investing in employee digestive wellness, businesses can reap numerous benefits that contribute to a happier, more productive workforce. 


What Are Digestive Wellness Benefits? 


The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases reports that up to 70 million Americans are affected by gastrointestinal (GI) diseases, including diarrhea and constipation, annually. Other Common GI Conditions Include: 

  • Diverticulitis 
  • Crohn’s disease 
  • Ulcerative colitis (UC) 
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) 
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) 
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) 
  • Ulcers, such as stomach and esophageal 

Digestive wellness benefits encompass initiatives and resources to support and promote healthy digestive systems in employees. These include access to nutritious foods, educational programs on digestive wellness, stress management support, and resources for addressing digestive disorders. By focusing on these benefits, employers can optimize the digestive function of their workforce, thereby enhancing overall health and productivity. 


Why Are These Digestive Wellness Benefits Important? 


If left untreated, preventable GI diseases can significantly impact an employee’s personal life and work productivity. According to the World Health Organization, gut health issues lead to absenteeism and presenteeism, causing employees to either miss work or be less productive for approximately 11 workdays per month. This places a financial burden on employers, as GI patients cost three to eight times more than healthy adults and are the fourth largest driver of employee-related healthcare costs. 

Employee Well-Being Is Essential: 

  • Physical well-being: A healthy digestive system ensures proper nutrient absorption, reducing issues like bloating, gas, or indigestion that affect daily life and work performance. 
  • Mental well-being: The gut microbiome’s role in producing neurotransmitters like serotonin affects mood regulation. Supporting digestive health can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. 
  • Employee productivity: A healthy gut supports a robust immune response, reducing illnesses and infections that impact work performance. Employees with strong immune systems take less sick leave, resulting in improved energy levels and productivity. 
  • Long-term health: Chronic digestive issues can lead to more severe health problems over time, like inflammatory bowel diseases or cancers. Supporting digestive health reduces healthcare costs and promotes long-term employee health. 

Employer Considerations: 

  • Improve access to digestive care: Offer access to medical professionals, registered dietitians, and wellness coaches for personalized guidance. 
  • Promote flexible work arrangements: Accommodate GI patients’ symptoms, appointments, and treatments to reduce stress and increase satisfaction. 
  • Organize educational opportunities: Offer workshops and seminars to educate employees about the importance of digestive health and provide practical tips. Organize educational opportunities: Host workshops addressing digestive health, offering practical advice, and underscoring the significance of preventive screenings such as colonoscopies. Encourage employees to engage with healthcare providers regarding any digestive changes they may experience. 
  • Reduce the stigma: Normalize gut health conversations, offer accommodations during flares, and encourage employees to seek treatment. 
  • Promote healthy eating habits: Increase access to nutritious foods and beverages in the workplace and consider subsidizing healthy meal options. 


Digestive wellness is an investment in employees’ physical well-being, mental resilience, and overall productivity. By prioritizing initiatives that support digestive wellness, employers demonstrate their commitment to fostering a healthy and thriving workforce. 


Contact Shepherd Insurance for more employee benefits resources.