by Becky Holman Iron Man Magazine
Gary Kaplan, D.O., is board-certified in family medicine, pain medicine and medical acupuncture. He is the founder of The Kaplan Center for Intergrative Medicine in McLean, Virginia. “Getting sick is part of life, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t take steps to try to keep it from happening,” explains Kaplan. “There are, in fact, many things you can do to help keep your body healthy and your immune system working efficiently.” Here are his top-10 immune system boosters—some you know, some willl surprise you:
• Get enough sleep. Your body needs proper sleep in order to stay healthy. Adults typically need seven to eight hours of quality sleep per night.
• Take a vitamin D supplement. Many Americans are deficient, which can undermine your immune function. Get your blood levels checked. Normal levels are 30 to 60 nanograms per milliliter of 25-hydroxy vitamin D.
• Monitor your alcohol consumption. To keep your body at its healthiest, drink alcoholic beverages only in moderation.
• Exercise regularly. Ideally, you should get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least three to four days per week.
• Eat a well-balanced diet. To stay healthy, make sure your diet includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean sources of protein.
• Quit smoking. Smoking weakens your immune system, so stop smoking, or even better, never start!
• Wash your hands. Keeping your hands clean is one of the most effective ways to avoid illness. Also avoid touching your mouth or eyes with your hands.
• Increase your intake of vitamin C. Excellent sources of vitamin C include citrus products, red peppers, strawberries, watermelon, potatoes and pineapple.
• Take probiotics. Essential for the normal function of digestion, probiotics can be found in foods such as yogurt and Kombucha tea, and they are also available in supplement form. A healthy digestive tract helps to keep you healthy.
• Use adaptogentic herbs. Adaptogens are herbs that help keep the body’s immune system strong and in balance. Herbs such as ginseng and astragalus have been used for centuries in Chinese medicine to boost immunity and help protect against colds and flus.
• Drink tea. Green, black and oolong teas are packed with antioxidants, so they are especially helpful in keeping your body healthy.