flu fighting foodsWe know what happens this time of year all too well. The seasons change from fall to winter, the temperature drops, and suddenly it seems as though everyone starts getting sick. We bundle up, get plenty of rest, take our vitamins to try to ward off getting the flu, and get the annual flu vaccine our doctors recommend, but sometimes it’s not quite enough to keep us 100 percent healthy.

While doing the first three aforementioned things certainly help ward off potential viruses, experts say that eating a balanced diet filled with nutrients is your best bet to avoid using up your sick days.  The Centers for Disease control recommends everyone get the flu vaccine, which protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season, that can last from October through May. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and spread it to others, especially the elderly, according to the CDC website.

“We know for a healthy immune system you need a healthy diet,” says Joan Salge Blake, a registered dietitian nutritionist and associate professor at Boston University, in a recent interview with NPR. In the article interview, she says it’s important to get proper amounts of protein as well as vitamins C, A, and E and zinc.

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And while there are tons of juices, smoothies and other supplements out there that promise to be chock full of all of these essential vitamins, it is critical not to overlook the benefits of eating vegetables themselves to get these nutrients. Oftentimes, these alternatives contain added sugars, unnecessary calories or unnatural ingredients to pack in vitamins.

Easy Ways to Eat More Veggies This Winter

For those of us who may be short on time (or are not so inclined in the kitchen), check out our suggestions below to incorporate more vegetables into your daily diet.

Go back to your roots.

You don’t have to be an expert chef to whip up a good side dish of vegetables. In the winter, we love roasting some root veggies in the oven. Check out this FoodNetwork.com recipe for roasted winter veggies!

Add veggies to soups and stews.

There are tons of hearty (yet healthy!) recipes online for stews and soups that allow you to add in lots of vegetables. View our soup infographic here, which shows you how to make your own creamy vegetable soup in three simple steps.

Go frozen.

Frozen veggies retain much of their original nutritional value and flavor, and they don’t need to be used right away after you buy them. They’re a great staple for throwing together quick, easy meals during busy weeknights.

Discover what’s in season.

You might not know it, but there are plenty of vegetables and fruits that are in season during the winter months! Most surprising to us are kiwifruits, kale, leeks and tangerines. Check out the full list from our friends at Fruits and Veggies More Matters!

Of course, getting a flu shot, washing your hands, and steering clear of those who are sick are critical to keeping the flu at bay. But, if you’re determined to save your PTO for a vacation rather than using them as sick days, be sure to load up on your fruits and vegetables this season. Your immune system will thank you later.

– By Sara Kildunne

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