Ten Foods Employers Can Stock to Reduce Impact of Cold and Flu Season

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Flu season has significant costs for employers. According to a National Business Group on Health report, the flu indirectly costs employers about $76.7 million a year in employee absenteeism, presenteeism, and other indirect costs.  A typical employee has flu symptoms for five to six days and misses between a half day and five days of work.

With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicting flu activity to increase in the coming weeks and months, now is the time for employers to prepare.  One important way is help employees boost their immune systems, the frontline for flu protection.

"Employers can help their employees - and ultimately themselves – get ready for flu season by stocking the right foods in the company cafeteria and vending machines," counseled Geneia dietitian, Amanda Dolan, MS, RDN, LDN.  The 10 great immunity-boosting foods are:

-Oranges
-Veggie Slices (peppers, carrots, celery, any)
-Whole Grain Fortified Cereals     
-Nuts (walnuts, almonds, peanuts, any)
-Hardboiled Eggs 
-Hummus and Veggies 
-Yogurt (Greek or low fat) 
-Bean Salad 
-Green Tea 
-String Cheese

Building one's immunity system with vitamin C, zinc, protein, and antioxidants before cold and flu season helps lessen its impact.  Studies show that consuming these nutrients after an employee becomes sick does not shorten the duration or stop the virus. 

In addition to eating the 10 immunity-boosting foods, Ms. Dolan offered other ways for employees to boost their immune system:

>>Eat yogurt or other sources of probiotics to support the gastrointestinal tract, the second line of defense for the immune system
>>Eat a well-balanced diet
>>Reduce stress levels     
>>Keep skin healthy - dry cracked skin can provide an entrance for the flu virus
>>Laugh – laughter has been shown to improve immune function by lowering stress
>>Consider getting the seasonal flu shot and the pneumonia vaccine (to determine your suitability for these vaccines, visit: cdc.gov