How Do You Support Your Family’s Immune System?
Right now, your immune system is more important than ever.
Your immune system is your body’s first line of defense against bacteria and viruses. A weak or stressed immune system leaves you and your family vulnerable to illness and infection, while strong, healthy immune systems will give your whole family the power to fight against the bad stuff.
Right now, there’s a lot of misinformation out there about how to protect yourself against viruses and keep your immune system functioning at peak performance. It’s strongly suggested to follow the CDC’s recommendations on staying safe during this time, but be aware of other resources toting unusual advice, especially if they’re also marketing a product like their own supplements.
To help you get the most accurate information, we’ve gathered some science-backed tips for supporting your immune system safely and effectively.
Effectively boost your immune system by focusing on these 4 important lifestyle factors.
When you view the body as a whole, you’ll find that there are 4 important areas to focus on if you want to keep your immune system working as efficiently as possible. And you might be surprised to learn that boosting your immune system is surprisingly simple.
1. Diet: Proper nutrition is the foundation of a healthy immune system.
If you view your body as a machine and the food you eat as fuel, it’s clear that the type of fuel we put in our bodies has a big impact on how our bodies feel and operate. When it comes to supporting your immune system, the most important thing you can do is eat a wholesome, healthy diet.
Without proper energy and nutrition, it’s nearly impossible for your immune system to protect your body against infection, illness, viruses, and bacteria. Your immune system needs access to essential macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals to build immune cells and produce protective enzymes.
You can keep your kid’s diet on track by:
- Basing your main meals on whole foods like vegetables, eggs, fruits, and lean proteins like turkey and chicken rather than processed foods
- Fill their plates (and yours) with plenty of colorful food. Most kids like some fruits and vegetables, so emphasize the ones they are excited about but add a few they are more wary of as well
- Having everyone in your family take a probiotic (there are some made especially for kids) and adding yogurt, kefir, and other fermented foods to keep your gut healthy
- Having everyone in the family take a daily vitamin but being sure not to use it as a substitute for healthy eating
Emotional eating is very normal, and right now, many people are finding themselves eating away their worries. There’s nothing wrong with finding comfort in your favorite ice cream or a bag of chips, but be aware of how much snacking and indulging you and your family might be doing because sugar does lower your immune system response.
2. Oral Health: Busting bacteria and buildup lowers overall inflammation.
When the subject of immune health and how to strengthen it comes up, there is one area of health that’s often overlooked: oral health. Your oral health is directly linked to your overall health, and issues with your oral health will affect your overall health. This is especially true when it comes to inflammation.
A buildup of plaque and bacteria leads to inflammation in your mouth, which leads to an inflammatory response in the rest of your body. Inflammation is an immune system response, but when inflammation is chronic and untreated, your immune system will suffer from it.
To ensure your and your family’s teeth and mouth stay as healthy as possible, be sure to:
- Brush twice a day for at least two minutes
- Floss daily, ideally after your main meals
- Consider investing in a powered toothbrush
- Use ADA-recommended mouthwash and toothpaste
- Limit sticky, sweet, and chewy foods or snacks
Since dental offices will be temporarily closed for cleanings and exams, it’s more important than ever to keep up a tip-top oral care routine at home.
3. Physical Exercise: Get your heart pumping to keep your immune system running.
The link between physical exercise and the immune system is very interesting. Studies have shown that about 45 minutes of moderately intense to vigorous exercise stimulates the immune system, and daily exercise of this nature will greatly strengthen your immune system and overall health with time.
There are a few ways regular exercise boosts the immune system. For example:
- Increased heart rate and breathing helps get lingering bacteria out from the airways.
- Exercise causes white blood cells to move more rapidly, which can help them find bacteria and viruses in the body more quickly.
- Increased body heat and sweating can help your body fight infection faster.
Physical exercise is also a very effective way of reducing stress, which brings us to our final lifestyle factor.
4. Mental Health: Stress can be a serious immune system suppressor.
Researchers have been studying the effects of stress and the immune system since the ’80s, and findings continue to show that chronic stress significantly weakens the immune system.
Right now, life is pretty stressful for many Americans, especially parents. With most kids temporarily home from school, you’re likely left juggling caring for your kids and working from home, searching for a new job, or stressing over how the shutdown is impacting your finances.
Since chronic stress has such a massive impact on your immune system, however, it’s vital that you take steps to lower your stress levels; doing so is important for your own physical and mental health as well as for the well-being of your kids.
Although it might be impossible to completely remove stress from your life, you can manage it and regularly decompress. Doing so will help you balance work with your daily home life more effectively and help ensure that you have the energy and ability to give your kids your full attention when they really need it. Altogether, this will result in a stronger immune system and a more positive outlook on life for both you and your children.
Some helpful tips for managing stress include:
- Keep in contact with friends and family through regular phone calls and video chat.
- Practice letting go of high expectations and perfectionism while juggling working from home and homeschooling.
- Make self-care a priority by setting aside 20 minutes to an hour of time each day to do whatever helps you unwind.
- Take up journaling and write down whatever thoughts come into your mind.
- Practice relaxing breathing exercises and try guided meditations.
- Watch plenty of funny movies or stand-up comedy shows.
If you’re having trouble finding ways to relieve your stress, hop online and do a couple of Google searches to see what works for others. Try different techniques and stick with those that make the biggest impact.
Most health authorities recommend postponing appointments, but My Pediatric Dental Specialists is still available for urgent dental care.
At this time, the majority of healthcare authorities are recommending that any elective or non-urgent health appointments be rescheduled. This also applies to dental offices.
The American Dental Association has released a simple patient guide outlining what type of appointments should be postponed. These appointments include your regular bi-annual exams and cleanings, cosmetic procedures, and treatment for non-painful conditions. This means if you were due to have a cavity filled but you aren’t experiencing pain, it’s best to reschedule.
Pediatric Dental Specialists is still available for all of your kid’s urgent dental care needs. If They are experiencing pain, swelling, bleeding, or signs of an infection or any other serious issue, please call our office so we can work together to make an appointment.