You know something that I find to be interesting as we're all trying to get through this pandemic? I don't hear or see nearly enough articles on how important it is to keep our immune system healthy and strong. Yet rather than complain about it, I figured I would do something about it instead. While there are features on our site like "Ready To Try 10 Quick & Easy Immune-Boosting Hacks?" and "Naomi Campbell Dropped Her Immunity-Boosting Vitamin & Supplement Routine", did you know that most of your immune system is actually located in your gut? Yep, a whopping 80 percent of it consists of your mouth, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, colon and also rectum.
Today, that is what we're gonna focus on—proactive things that you can do to take care of the parts of your body that work the hardest at preventing you from getting sick, so that you will be in peak condition to fight this pandemic until…it passes.
1. Eat Fermented Foods
If you were to ever Google ways to take care of your gut, something that you're definitely going to see are articles on why you should add more fermented foods to your diet. As far as what fermented foods actually are, the quick breakdown is they're carbohydrates that are processed into alcohol or organic acids with the help of yeast or bacteria. Some examples of fermented foods include pickles, kimchi, kombucha, miso, sourdough bread, yogurt, cheese and sauerkraut. Because fermented foods have so much good bacteria in them, that's a huge part of the reason why they help to protect and strengthen your gut. As bonuses, fermented foods are also really good at helping your body to better absorb vitamins and they can assist in replenishing your system if you've recently had a round of antibiotics.
2. Load Up on Polyphenols
Something else that's really good for you is polyphenols. These are organic compounds (like tannic acid and flavonoids) that your body needs because they do things like lower your blood sugar levels; help to fight your risk of heart disease; increase healthy brain function; reduce blood clots, and yes, promote healthy digestion. On the digestive tip, polyphenols are essential because they are great at promoting the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut. Some foods that fall into this category are blackberries, grapes, peaches, potatoes, broccoli, spinach, black and white beans, almonds, oats and cumin.
3. Take a Probiotic
At the end of the day, probiotics are nothing more than live microorganisms. You can get them via eating fermented foods. You can also get them into your body by taking a supplement. I have made sure to take a probiotic for the past several years and I've noticed that it's helped to clear up my skin and make me more regular. Some other cool things about taking a probiotic is, because it helps to detoxify the body, taking one on a daily basis can improve your moods, make eczema and allergy-related symptoms less severe and, it can most definitely help to make your immune system stronger over time. If you need a little help in figuring out which probiotic is best for you, Verywell Fit published an article on the topic that you can check out right here.
4. Consume Prebotics Too
While we're on this topic, something else that you should eat are prebiotics. If you're wondering what the difference is between prebiotics and probiotics, that's a really good question. Probiotics are live strains of bacteria. Prebiotics are a type of plant-based fiber that helps to feed the strains so that they can continue to grow.
The more prebiotics you consume, the more good bacteria your body will have and the stronger your immune system will ultimately be. And just what kind of foods fall into the prebiotic category? Garlic, onions, asparagus, bananas, oats, apples and cocoa (yes, cocoa!) are some that top the list. Enjoy!
5. Go Lean
Foods that are high in fat are foods that can ultimately lead to constipation. When you're constipated, your system is unable to release toxins as quickly as it should and that can definitely make you more susceptible to illnesses. That's why it's best to eat meats that are as lean as possible and when you do have something that is fatty (like fried foods, cheese, muffins, pizza or even egg yolks), you pair it with foods that are high in fiber (like avocados, carrots, broccoli, quinoa or even a fruit like a pear for dessert); that will help to balance everything out so that your system remains regular.
6. Chew Slowly
Back when I would visit a certain relative, something that was an absolute no-no was drinking while eating. The logic behind it is it confuses the digestive system, making it more difficult for foods to digest (Prevention published an article on this very point that you can check out by clicking here). Whether you abide by that rule or not, something that you definitely should do for the sake of your gut is to chew your foods slowly. That makes it easier for your body to absorb the nutrients that are in your meal. It helps to satisfy your hunger. And it allows the digestive enzymes in your mouth to make it easier for food to process once it does reach your gut. As you already know—the better your body can take in what you've eaten, the healthier it will be. If you're eating the right foods, that is. And just how often should you chew? According to health professionals, no less than 15 times and no more than 30. Yep, a lot of us are not even close to eating right. There's no time like the present to change that.
7. Up Your Water Intake
We're made up of 60-65 percent water so, yep, we need to consume it on a daily basis in order to hydrate and replenish our system. Some of the direct benefits that come from drinking water include it lubricates your joints; moisturizes your hair and skin; regulates your body temperature; flushes out toxins; maintains your blood pressure; helps to prevent kidney damage and increases your workout performance—and that is just the tip of the iceberg! The reason why water is so good for your gut is because it also helps to keep you from having an overly acidic tummy which can ultimately lead to heartburn, ulcers and other digestive complications. So, make sure to get no less than 6-8 glasses a day. Your gut will love you for it and your immune system will be all the better for it too.
8. Schedule Your Meals
Do you ever notice that you seem to feel bloated even when it's not that time of the month? A part of the problem could very well-being that you don't have your body on a schedule when it comes to eating your meals. As a direct result, your stomach ends up working overtime which can weaken it, well, over time. By being intentional about having your three major meals—breakfast, lunch and dinner—around the same time every day, it will help your body to properly digest what you eat. And the better shape your stomach's in, the less bloating and indigestion you will feel which will also help to keep your gut in top form.
There's honestly not going to be too many articles in the world that tackle how to be healthier that aren't going to mention exercise at some point. As far as your gut health goes, exercise is important because it plays a direct role in helping your body to digest your food faster. Plus, it's a great way to keep the pounds off if you're looking to shed a few. It doesn't have to be anything too crazy. 45 minutes of cardio and strength-building, three times a week, should be just what you need for your overall health and well-being.
10. Reduce Your Stress Levels
It really is a trip how being overly stressed does us absolutely no good and yet it's something that so many of us still continue to struggle with. Your immune system will only suffer when you're stressed out, in part, because stress causes your digestive system to go into overdrive which can make your system vulnerable to all sorts of health challenges. Rest. Meditate. Learn to let ish go. Your health is about the most valuable thing you've got. You have to protect it at all costs. Your gut will thank you, by being really good to you, if you do.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
2023 has become the year of celebrity breakups with headlines breaking left and right about celebs filing for divorce or ending high-profile relationships. The latest couple to announce their dissolution? British actress Jodie Turner-Smith. TMZ reported that Jodie has filed for a divorce from her husband, Dawson Creek alum Joshua Jackson.
As far as her reason for calling it quits, Jodie cited "irreconcilable differences," according to TMZ, and has requested joint custody of the couple's daughter, Juno Rose Diana Jackson. Late last year there were rumblings of there being "trouble in paradise" for the couple after the media realized they were no longer following each other on Instagram.
Those rumors were more than laid to rest when Jodie and Joshua went to the 2023 Oscars together earlier this year, and even more recently, when they celebrated her birthday together last month during the September unveiling of the Lotus Emeya.
Jodie Turner-Smith celebrates her birthday with husband Joshua Jackson at the unveiling of the new fully-electric Lotus Emeya on September 07, 2023 in New York City.
Brian Ach/Getty Images for Lotus
Despite seeming particularly happy and in love, perhaps the writing was already written on the wall even then. In the past, Jodie has been very celebratory publicly about her love for her estranged husband, even boldly recounting their love story for the books in a 2021 interview with Seth Meyers.
When Jodie and Joshua met, it was while at his birthday party in 2018. Their relationship was hot and heavy from the start, with Jodie openly noting that they began as a "one-night stand." During her 2021 interview with Seth Meyers, she jokingly referred to their love story as a "three-year one-night stand." She shared:
"First of all, I saw him before he saw me and when I saw him, I was like, 'I want that.' And then when he saw me, I just pretended like I didn't see him. He had to yell across the room to me, and I was wearing this T-shirt from a movie called Sorry to Bother You and [actress] Tessa Thompson plays a character called Detroit, and she has this T-shirt that says, 'The Future Is Female Ejaculation.'
"And so, he shouts across the room, 'Detroit!' He comes over and… does this really cute, charming thing that he does and just all night -- he just basically followed me around the party."
The couple were together from that moment forth, and even made things "Instagram official" less than two weeks later while on a dinner date. Joshua would later clarify to Insider that the night they met in 2018 was not a 'one-night stand' or a 'three-year one-night stand' like his then-wife joked but instead, it was "technically a three-night stand."
"It was sealed with a kiss that night and then we didn't leave each other's sides for, well, three years now," Joshua continued at the time.
In a July 2021 interview with Jimmy Fallon, Joshua dropped more details about the why behind getting married. He revealed that he didn't know he wanted to get married to Jodie until "the moment she asked me."
"She asked me on New Year's Eve. We were in Nicaragua. It was very beautiful, incredibly romantic, we were walking down the beach and she asked me to marry her."
He added, "I did not know [she would propose], but she was quite adamant and she was right. This is the best choice I ever made."
Joshua Jackson Reveals Jodie Turner-Smith Proposed To Him
Jodie received quite a bit of flack for proposing to Joshua because it goes against tradition and what society sees as acceptable for a woman to do to a man, and proposing isn't one of them. No matter how much time has passed, the viewpoints around who should do the proposing and who should be proposed to are still very traditional.
After being on the receiving end of such backlash, Joshua would later clarify to the media in a separate interview that it wasn't just Jodie's proposal to him that sealed the deal of them getting married, he proposed to her too. She might have initiated it, but Joshua followed through.
"I accidentally threw my wife under the bus because that story was told quickly and it didn't give the full context and holy Jesus, the internet is racist and misogynist," he explained to Refinery29 that same year. "We were in Nicaragua on a beautiful moonlit night, it could not possibly have been more romantic."
David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images
He continued, "And yes, my wife did propose to me and yes, I did say yes, but what I didn't say in that interview was there was a caveat, which is that I'm still old school enough that I said, 'This is a yes, but you have to give me the opportunity [to do it too].'"
"She has a biological father and a stepdad, who's the man who raised her. [I said], 'You have to give me the opportunity to ask both of those men for your hand in marriage.' And then, 'I would like the opportunity to re-propose to you and do it the old-fashioned way down on bended knee.' So, that's actually how the story ended up."
Joshua and Jodie would eventually marry in December 2019. Shortly thereafter, Jodie gave birth to the couple's first child, Janie, in 2020.
In a recent interview with Elle UK, Jodie shared the ways becoming a mother to Juno helped to heal her of her wounds from colorism she experienced in the past. "It's interesting because I had a lot of resistance to becoming a mother and, throughout my life, I always said if I were to have children, I wanted to have Black, Black babies so that I could affirm them as children with the love that I felt I needed to have been affirmed with by the outside world," Jodie shared with the outlet.
She continued, "Then I fell in love with my husband and we talked about having kids. I did have this mini pause, where I was like, 'She's going to be walking through the world not only having an experience that I did not have, but looking like people that, in a way, I'd always felt a little bit tormented by.' Now that I've got this little, tiny, light-skinned boss, I feel like it’s the universe teaching me lessons. I've been given a daughter who looks this way to heal my own conversations around colorism."
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