MCLEAN, VIRGINIA – (April 26, 2011) – Each year, in America, an average of 628 million work days are lost due to illness or injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While most people end up getting sick at least once or twice per year, there are things you can do to boost your immune system and increase your chances of staying well.

“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 Dr. Gary Kaplan, a specialist in family medicine and pain medicine at The Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine, located in McLean, Virginia. “There are, in fact, many things you can do to help keep your body healthy and your immune system working efficiently.”

The immune system is a network of organs, tissues and cells that helps to defend the body from invading viruses and micro-organisms that may bring on illness. Here are 10 things you can do to boost your immune system and help increase your chances of avoiding illness:

  • Get enough sleep. Your body needs proper sleep in order to stay healthy. Adults typically need around 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 ng/ml. of vitamin D, 25-hydroxy.
  • 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, your diet should include 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 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 Kambushu tea, and they are also available in supplement form. A healthy digestive tract helps to keep you healthy.
  • Use adaptogentic herbs. Adpatogens are herbs that help keeps the body’s immune system strong and in balance. Herbs such as ginseng and astragalus and 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.

“Taking these small steps can go a long way toward helping you to avoid getting sick,” says Kaplan. “You may already be doing many of them, and you will find the others easy to incorporate into your lifestyle.”

About The Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine

The mission of the center is to provide integrated, comprehensive treatment to help alleviate individuals’ chronic pain and illness. By combining the best features of conventional medicine with the most effective alternative therapies, the Kaplan medical team has helped many people to improve their health and achieve optimal wellness. For more information, visit