Geneia: 10 Foods Employers Can Stock to Reduce Impact of Cold and Flu Season

Oct 31, 2013, 08:00 ET from Geneia

HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 31, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- 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:

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: and

Geneia is a health care innovations company specializing in the development and deployment of clinical, analytic, and technical solutions for health care.  Our staff of nearly 200 seasoned professionals including 100 physicians and nurses has significant experience in all aspects of health care.  We develop, acquire, and market leapfrogging technologies to improve the cost of health care, and the health of the people we serve.   

Geneia offers an array of health and wellness programs, including the Worksite Nutrition Culture Assessment which evaluates and makes recommendations about food choices in the workplace.  The Geneia Institute educates clinicians and other health care professionals in population health, care coordination, and other emerging models.  Geneia helps hospitals, physicians, health plans, brokers, employers, and their employees succeed in the post healthcare reform environment.  For more information, visit