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Maintaining Strong Immune System Requires Comprehensive Attack Against Germs  

TROY, Ohio (September 14, 2017) -  The importance of washing our hands and sneezing into our elbow are so engrained in us that we just assume they’re the only necessary steps to keep our immunity strong and harmful germs at bay.

The truth is that germs are lurking everywhere, from the pets snuggled up with us in bed at night to the bacteria stuck between our own teeth. Dale Block, MD, a family physician with Premier Family Care of Mason, said reducing our risk for getting sick requires a comprehensive attack against germs and their sources.

There are four main types of germs: bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Some of the germs in our body are present all the time and actually help in the natural rhythm of our body. Certain bacteria in the gut, for instance, help aid digestion. It’s when germs outnumber the good cells in our body or when harmful outside germs are ingested that imbalances occur, making someone feel sick.

Bacteria are often ingested from hand-to-hand contact or by consuming unprotected food at a picnic or buffet. Viruses are transferred by small droplets in the air when someone sneezes or coughs. Fungi already present in the body can get out of balance when a cold or infection stresses the immune system. And parasites can enter the body by drinking unclean water.

Dr. Block recommends thinking outside the box when an illness seems to stay with a family with no known source.

“I took care of two separate families where the family pet was the carrier for streptococcus,” he said. “Both families kept getting strep throat and we couldn’t determine who the carrier was until it dawned on me to ask if they had pets. The veterinarian confirmed in both situations that the pet was the carrier.”

Dr. Block said there are important steps a person can take to boost their immune system and protect themselves against germs:

Consider unlikely sources – Look at your environment for possible sources of germs. Household pets are an often overlooked carrier. Make sure pets are regularly checked by a veterinarian and up-to-date on their own immunizations. Be careful that drinking water is safe and healthy. Well water can sometimes carry parasites or an overabundance of bacteria.

Feed your immune system – Nutrition is one of the best ways to strengthen our body and help it fight off germs. Eat a healthy diet that is low in complex carbohydrates and high in foods that have antioxidant properties. Focus on fruits and vegetables and consider following meals outlined in a Mediterranean diet.

Sleep on it – Our bodies undergo damage all throughout the day whether it is physical exhaustion or emotional stress. Sleep helps our bodies repair the damage that has been done, but only if enough hours are given to it each night. Make sure to give your body at least eight hours a night to rest.

Outrun (or walk) germs – Regular physical activity helps increase immune system function. Look for ways to increase physical activity throughout the day whether it is in small 15-minute intervals or one, 30-minute workout.

Keep your mouth in check – The mouth is an often overlooked source for germs. Practice good dental hygiene including regular dental checkups, and daily brushing and flossing of teeth.

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