You’re practicing social distancing and only going out for essentials. You’re disinfecting your surfaces and washing your hands for 20 seconds at a time. What else can you do to keep yourself healthy?
One thing we should never underestimate is the power of boosting our immune systems.
Our immune systems work hard and are a miracle of nature! But even a miracle of nature needs some support.
Read on to find out how to build up your immune system with just a few simple steps!
Eating right and getting enough exercise isn’t just about your physical appearance. When you aren’t getting the right nutritional balance or enough exercise, your immune system suffers. With the proper fuel, your body has a lot of the necessary components to self-regulate!
Studies have found that those who have plant-based diets tend to produce more white blood cells than those who don’t. White blood cells produce antibodies that aid the immune system in fighting bacteria and viruses in all areas of the body. Foods that are high in processed fats and hydrogenated oil can actually stifle the production of white blood cells.
Fruits and vegetables offer a variety of vitamins and nutrients that keep the body regulated. For example, while carrots are rich in anti-inflammatory beta-carotene, citrus fruits and red bell peppers are rich in Vitamin C. If you fill your plate with tons of colorful fruits and veggies, you’re more likely to get a dose of all those immunity boosters!
Some say that exercise helps flush bacteria out of your lungs. Others say that, like a plant-based diet, exercise can increase your white blood cell count. Either way, studies have found that those who exercise on a regular basis are less likely to catch illnesses than those who do not!
That being said, the same study found that overdoing the exercise routine can have the opposite effect. Don’t start running six miles a day if you’ve never run before. Instead, practice light cardio or strength training for about 30 minutes a day.
As you know, dentists are no fans of plaque. Why is that?
Plaque creates a very habitable space for bacteria. If you don’t brush and floss away plaque on a regular basis, you end up with hard, sticky buildup around and under your gum line. As the plaque builds, so does the bacteria, which can affect your overall health in two ways.
First, your gums may become inflamed. Inflammation is the body’s way of signaling to the immune system that it needs to focus on a particular area. That means that rather than regulating your entire body, your immune system is hard at work fighting off harmful bacteria in the inflamed area.
Second, our mouths are a gateway to our respiratory and intestinal tracts. When you have a ton of bacteria in your mouth, you risk transporting it to other areas of the body. Once again, your immune system must fight off this preventable bacteria.
So, how do you prevent this from happening?
Use fluoride toothpaste and brush the fronts and backs of your teeth twice a day. Your brushing sessions should last about two minutes. While it may feel redundant to brush for a full two minutes, it isn’t. It takes time to remove bacteria plaque. Don’t forget to scrub your tongue while you’re at it, as the tongue can host bacteria, too!
You’re only tackling half of the bacteria if you aren’t flossing. Floss gets into those hard-to-reach spaces between the teeth and gums where plaque absolutely loves to hide out.
When possible, make sure you’re heading to your dentist for a regular cleaning about every six months. That way, your dentist can make sure that your at-home routine is adequate and make sure that you don’t have any bigger dental problems that need to be addressed.
Believe it or not, stress and other mental health troubles can weaken your immune system. You release too much of the stress hormone, cortisol, which can cause inflammation. Your body stops producing those white blood cells we’ve talked about so much already.
This is a high-stress time which means your mind may be doing things to your body that you had no idea about. Let’s talk about some of the ways to counteract this issue.
Even if you only have 20 minutes here and there, lowering your stress level slows your cortisol release. Practice meditation, follow along with an online yoga class, or read a book you know will calm you. Include these moments of relaxation in your daily schedule to increase their positive effects.
In addition to your moments of relaxation, look for moments of joy! Turn up some tunes and dance around the house with your family or put on a TV show that gets you belly laughing. Teach your dog some fun new tricks, read silly books aloud with your kids, or have a competition to see who can tell the best knock-knock jokes.
Smiling and laughing both release endorphins, the neurochemicals that boost happiness, and these moments of joy can keep you feeling uplifted for hours afterward!
In times like these, we tend to go into survival mode. In other words, we focus solely on the tasks we must accomplish in order to complete our work and take care of our families. In order to learn how to build up your immune system, you’ll have to break out of survival mode and find little ways to take care of yourself.
Here at First Dental Associates, we’re happy to help you take care of yourself by helping you maintain your oral health. Contact us to find out about our available appointment times and we’ll get back to you right away.