13 Surprising Ways To Avoid Getting Sick Slideshow

The flu is the number one reason that people take off work during the fall and winter months. Although cold and flu season is already here, it's not too late to take preventative measures. Each year, up to 63 million Americans come down with the flu, 200,000 Americans are hospitalized with the flu, and 3,000 Americans die from the flu. Each year, up to 111 million workdays are lost because of the flu. We spoke with Janet Little, nutritionist for Sprouts Farmers Market about how to avoid getting sick.

Eat: Apples and Pears

"Their soluble fiber changes the personality of immune cells — they go from being unhealthy pro-inflammatory cells to healing anti-inflammatory cells that help us recover faster from infection," Little said.

Eat: Citrus

"Citrus, including lemons, limes, grapefruits, and oranges, is a tasty way to load up on vitamin C," Little said. "They also contain hesperidin, which can help reduce inflammation and improve circulation."

Eat: Chicken Soup

"Scientists have confirmed that the ingredients in chicken soup help increase neutrophils activity: your white blood cells that destroy harmful bacteria and help the body's immune system to fight colds and flu," Little said.

Eat: Garlic

"Garlic's sulfur-containing compound called allicin functions as an antibacterial and antiviral agent," Little noted. "Eating garlic can also boost t-cells, which fight viruses. Studies have shown that by taking aged garlic extract you can reduce the severity of cold and flu symptoms."

Eat: Squashes, Sweet Potatoes, and Pumpkin

"These vegetables are loaded with vitamin A and beta-carotene rich," Little said. "They stimulate and enhance immune function."

Eat: Spinach and Broccoli

Loading up on greens and cruciferous vegetables is only going to help you when it comes to avoiding sickness. "Spinach and broccoli are vitamin E-rich and they also enhance helper T-cell activity," Little said.

Eat: Peppers

"Packed with B vitamins, vitamin C, and immune-boosting carotenoids, peppers give your plate a punch of color and offer you antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits," Little advised.

Eat: Yogurt With Live Active Cultures

"The probiotics in yogurt add good bacteria to your gut, which helps with digestion and reduces inflammation," Little said. "This is particularly important if are sick and are taking antibiotics, which kill not only the bad bugs but the good bugs in your gut. Plain yogurt sweetened with chunks of fresh fruit is best to avoid getting too much sugar."

Drink: Tea

"Drinking green, black, or white tea will not only keep you hydrated, but may also prime your immune system to fight off illness," Little said. "Plus, the antioxidants and flavonoids in tea support overall well-being."

Drink: Water

"Aim for about 64 ounces of water each day," Little suggested. "Drinking fluids can help wash away toxins and germs, prevent dehydration, loosen mucus, and lessen the chance of catching a bug."

Avoid: Sweets

"Sugar can suppress the immune system," Little warned. "Watch your sugar intake in both foods and beverages."

Avoid: Processed foods

"Processed foods are laden with empty calories," Little said. "Now more than ever, your diet should be filled with things that are beneficial to your body."

Avoid: White Breads

"Like sugar, white breads have a similar negative effect on the immune system and should be avoided," Little said.