During these trying times, I want you to know that we’re always here for you. Please take care of yourself and your family. Wash your hands often and stay home if you’re sick. Don’t forget to be kind to the people around you, too. After all, we’re all in this together.
I understand that coronavirus can make some of you feel scared or anxious. It’s a new disease, and health experts aren’t entirely sure what to expect as it spreads across the United States. One thing they have made clear, however, is that the healthier you are, the better chance you’ll have at a full recovery if you do become infected.
So, if you’re panic-buying at the grocery store or spending hours searching for N95 masks… reconsider. Instead, try your best to focus on a plan for self-care to boost your immune system. A healthy diet and exercise will reduce the chance of serious illness if you get coronavirus. And the bonus: Taking care of yourself will also decrease the chance that you’ll ever suffer from heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancers, and many other chronic diseases. Did we mention you’ll also be able to better control stress? Win, win, win!
So, what should you eat to boost your immune system?
Fighting off any type of disease requires a healthy immune system. While it won’t always respond perfectly, you can eat a diet high in veggies and fruits to boost your immune system. When it comes to vegetables, think foods rich in antioxidants such as eggplants, carrots, kale, spinach, artichokes, and onions. These are all great for strengthening the immune system. If you don’t like veggies, you can always take a daily multivitamin. Just don’t overdo the vitamins. Taking extra won’t help you.
As for fruits… You’ve probably heard a million times that Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps to strengthen your immune system. This is very true! Your body doesn’t produce Vitamin C, though. It also doesn’t store it. That’s why it’s good to eat fruits like oranges, tangerines or grapefruit once a day. You can also squeeze a lemon or a lime into a glass of water for a splash of Vitamin C.
Similar to Vitamin C, Vitamin E is extremely important when it comes to having a healthy immune system – especially if you’re older. Peanut butter, almonds and sunflower seeds are a great source of Vitamin E.
Don’t forget about Vitamin B-6 as well. B-6 helps to form red blood cells, which help immunity. You can find B-6 in poultry, like chicken or turkey. All you need is about 3 ounces of either of these to get about half of your daily recommended amount.
The list of all the healthy foods you can eat goes on and on! If you’d like to know more about what to eat for good health, follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Each week I’ll be highlighting a new food and recipe to try out.
How about exercise?
If you’re trying to avoid coronavirus, the flu or a regular cold, exercise is key to boost your immune system. Being active helps to flush bacteria out your airways and lungs – reducing your chances of getting sick.
Plus, exercise is just great for you in general. Many people don’t realize that obesity is a main risk factor for chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, hypertension and stroke. It really goes without saying: The more you stay active, the better off you’ll be – no matter what age you are. Did you know that the American College of Sports Medicine now recommends weight training for all people over 50? Even frail people in their 90’s can benefit! Strength training has been proven to help with balance and a faster walking pace.
Now that gyms are closed here in Denver and around the U.S., you can still keep up your workouts at home. Here are some tips for home workouts that you may find helpful:
- Create a designated fitness space.
- Find items around the house that weigh more than a pound, but are easy to hold on to. Use them as weights by doing curls or squats.
- Do body weight exercises like planks, push-ups, squats, jumping jacks and step-ups (using stairs).
- Download a fitness app, stream online workouts, or order fitness DVDs on Amazon.
- You can even make housework exercise time!
What else should you know?
Of course, as a dentist I can’t stress enough how important it is to take care of your teeth and gums. They’re really the gateway to your overall health – whether it’s a viral infection or a chronic disease.
As an example, a recent study showed that people who brush their teeth three times a day or more are less likely to develop diabetes! The study was conducted in South Korea from 2003 – 2006 and examined the oral hygiene of 190,000 people. Ten years later, 16% of participants had developed diabetes. A similar number had gum disease. The study found that participants under 51 who brushed their teeth more than the recommended two times per day had a 14% lower risk of diabetes!
I hope after reading this blog, you feel confident to start (or continue) down a road to self-care. We will all get through this. Make it your goal to come out even healthier than when it began.
If you have questions for me, ask away in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you.
In good health,