Will you get sick this flu season?

It’s the time of year for hot apple cider, hayrides, jumping into piles of leaves, getting excited for the holidays, and- you guessed it- the flu.

Unfortunately, the flu and other sicknesses accompany many people throughout the fall and winter seasons, and while getting a flu shot can protect you from battling the virus this season, there are other things you can do to protect yourself.

Believe it or not, you touch about 300 different surfaces every 30 minutes. Because of this, it’s unrealistic to think that you can avoid coming in contact with the flu or another virus. Don’t panic or break out your rubber gloves just yet! New studies show that only half of people infected with the flu virus actually get sick. The determining factor: The health of your immune system.

You can greatly lower your risk of becoming ill from a cold, the flu, or another illness by modifying your daily lifestyle habits. Follow these tips to protect yourself from sickness:

  • Wash your hands. Washing your hands frequently and thoroughly is one of the best things you can do to maintain quality overall health. To wash your hands properly, all you need is warm water, soap, and 20 seconds. Although they come in handy when you can’t get to a sink, antibacterial gels and cleansers aren’t necessary to have germ-free hands.
  • Optimize your vitamin D. The best way to increase your level of vitamin D is to increase your sun exposure, but, depending on where you live, that can be a challenge this time of year. Using a safe tanning bed is the next best option, but taking vitamin D supplements works for most people. If you do take supplements, be sure to also take calcium supplements. Not only is calcium good for your teeth and bones, but it’s also co-dependent on vitamin D to be absorbed by your body.
  • Optimize your insulin and leptin levels by avoiding sugar. Eating sugar, fructose, and grains will increase your insulin level, which increases your susceptibility to sickness. Simply eating healthy by getting your fill of protein, vitamins and minerals, and fruits and veggies, and avoiding added sugars, preservatives, and chemicals, will help you maintain good overall health. Your teeth will thank you, too.
  • Exercise regularly. One study shows that staying active cuts the risk of having a cold by 50 percent. Exercise improves the circulation of immune cells in your blood, and the better these cells circulate, the more efficient your immune system will be at defending your body against viruses and other illnesses.

Dr. Randy LaFrom is a dentist in Cupertino, California with a special interest in the connection between the mouth and the body. Healthy teeth and gums contribute to a healthy body, and vice versa. For more tips on how to lead a healthy, high-quality life, call LaFrom Dentistry at (408) 996-8595.

~ by cupertinodentist on October 27, 2011.

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