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Top 7 Immune Boosters

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Gary Kaplan, D.O., is board-certified in family medicine. He’s the founder of The Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine in McLean, Virginia. He says, “Getting sick is part of life, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t take steps to try to keep it from happening. There are, in fact, many things you can do to help keep your body healthy and your immune system working efficiently.”

Here are 7 of Dr. Kaplan’s top immunity boosters—some you know, some may surprise you:

1) Get enough sleep. Your body needs sufficient sleep in order to stay healthy. Adults typically need seven to eight hours of quality sleep per night. (Studies show that chamomile tea can help you get to sleep—and it has the cancer-fighting antioxidant apigenin.)

2) Take a vitamin D supplement. Many Americans are deficient, which can undermine immune function. Get your blood level checked—normal is 30 to 60 nanograms per milliliter of 25-hydroxy vitamin D. (I take 2,000 international units per day of D3 when I’m not out in the sun.)

3) Exercise regularly. Ideally, you should get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three to four days per week.

4) Quit smoking. Smoking weakens your immune system, so stop smoking, or even better, never start! (Um, pretty sure this one is a no-brainer, Dr. K.)

5) Wash your hands. Many folks don’t know that keeping your hands clean is one of the most effective ways to avoid illness. Also avoid touching your mouth or eyes with your hands. (Oh, and don’t pick your nose.)

6) Increase your intake of vitamin C.  Excellent sources include citrus, red peppers, strawberries, watermelon and pineapple. (I take 250 to 500 milligrams twice a day.)

7) Take probiotics. Essential for the normal function of digestion, probiotics can be found in such foods as yogurt and kombucha tea, and they are available in supplement form. A sound, balanced digestive tract keeps you healthy and your belly flat.

One more he didn’t mention: Eat less sugar. An insulin spike from simple-sugar foods can suppress your immune system for five hours.

—Steve Holman

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