Guide to the indoor season: Mites and viruses lurking in the dark
The mites rejoice in your pillowcase, the coffee and red wine slowly color your teeth yellow, and you go from one flu disease to the other. The indoor season is here for real with all its dangers and pitfalls - but here's the guide for getting fully skinned out of the darkness.
Winter’s cozy moments threaten your white smile – with the intake of coffee, cola and chocolate, yellowish-brown color changes, and substances that damage the enamel.
Fruits, wine and cola color your teeth yellow
On the Hollywood stars, they sparkle like polished ivory, but in the bathroom mirror, they are not always as chalk white.
Although the teeth naturally turn yellow with age, there is also a lot you can do to keep discolorations away.
In particular, it may be worthwhile to keep track of foods full of tannins, chromogens and acids.
Acid bath corrodes on the enamel
Already uneven enamel becomes even more scratched and uneven when acid from food and drink performs its corrosive work.
Both fruit and tartaric acid can force the teeth pH down to 5.5 so that the enamel begins to be corroded in a process called demineralization.
The acid bath leads to more irregularities and cracks in the tooth, so-called erosions, in which dyes from, for example, licorice, blueberry, and coffee more easily adhere to.
How acid breaks down the enamel’s hard lime armor:
1. Protective coating encloses the tooth
The outermost layer of the tooth is clad with the hardest material of the body: the calcium mineral hydroxyapatite.
2. Acids come from food
For example, when you ingest fruit acid from a lemon, it comes into contact with the enamel.
3. The acid releases hydrogen
The fructic acid releases hydrogen ions as it reaches the mineral surface of the enamel.
4. Hydrogen reacts with the enamel
The hydrogen ions from the acid undergo a chemical reaction with the lime mineral hydroxyapatite.
5. The lime begins to dissolve
The lime is divided into free ions in a process called demineralization.
6. Cracks occur in the enamel surface
Hydrogen phosphate and calcium can now leave the enamel, which gets cracks and notches.
Colorful molecules are stuck to the tooth
The tooth's pattern and special proteins create a good breeding ground for yellow teeth.
Uneven rod pattern makes the tooth vulnerable
Enamel consists of a lime mineral that is densely compressed in small rods. The stave pattern is strong, but also uneven and therefore molecules with a high color content can easily stick to the tooth and discolor it.
Nicotine attracts colorful bacteria
The potent substance in tobacco smoke causes the enamel's outermost membrane to form so-called Y proteins, which make it effortless for bacteria to attach to the tooth. The bacteria form dyes that lead to discoloration.
You feed thousands of mites every day
During a day, a person emits between one and a half grams of skin deposits - enough to feed thousands of mites during a year. The mites do not need to drink as they can absorb moisture through the skin. Therefore, they thrive particularly well in homes with relatively high humidity of between 55 and 75 percent - as well as in homes that are rarely vacuumed and cleaned.
Coffee, tea and sweets leave traces behind
Some foods, in particular, contain many chromogens, that is, molecules with a high color content that settles on the teeth enamel and leads to discoloration.
The substances are found mainly in dark foods such as coffee, red wine, cola drinks, licorice, and a variety of fruits such as grapes, blueberries, and pomegranates.
Tannin, or tannic acid, is a plant polyphenol that, among other things, adds bitterness to foods such as red wine, black tea, and dark chocolate.
But the tannic acid unfortunately also makes it easier for chromogens to attach to the tooth enamel.
Therefore, red wine – which is rich in both chromogens and tannins – is good to avoid if you do not want yellow teeth.
Citric and phosphoric acid in soft drinks and fruit acid in, for example, lemons, apples and grapes, and virtually all kinds of citrus juices break down the lime in your enamel, and this leads to traces and cracks where the dyes can get stuck.
Cola beverage is one of the most acidic soft drinks with a pH of 2.4 and because it also contains chromogens, it often leads to yellow teeth.
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
- Eat fruit and drink tea and coffee right away instead of sipping for hours.
- Use (environmentally friendly) straws to avoid the worst contact with the dyes.
- Rinse mouth with water after fruit and soda
Your bed is riddled with uninvited guests – especially when you spend a lot of time in it. The more skin deposits you leave, the better you will find a large number of small insects.
You lie down on a bed of bacteria, fungi and predators
Even if you sleep alone, you have lots of company in bed. Fungal spores, bacteria, animal hair, mites, pollen, soil, dyes, food waste, skin cells, sweat, spit, urine and secretions – these are just some of the things that are hiding in your bedding.
You secrete between one and a half grams of skin flakes daily. A great deal of them end up on the mattress, where the skin remains the basis for a whole ecosystem with its own rules of life and death. When a human has contributed skin and hair to the ecosystem, bacteria and fungi break down the skin remnants.
After that, house dust mites eat up the bacteria and fungi. In turn, they must be on their guard against ravenous predatory mites, who absolutely love a well-nourished house dust mite.
Also, you secrete 100 liters of sweat bed a year – moisture that creates good growth conditions for fungi.
Studies show that there are between four and 16 different types of fungi on a regular pillow.
The uninvited guests do not just lie with you in bed. They can also affect your health.
One in six people has some kind of allergy, and the dirty residents of the bedding can act as allergens that cause or intensify allergies.
We spend about a third of our lives in bed; allergies can be markedly aggravated if the mattress is a dirty soup of, for example, dust mites and their feces.
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
- Wash your bedding at 60 degrees at least once every two weeks.
- Weather three times a day for between five and ten minutes.
- Lower the relative humidity to below 45 percent.
The winter season is flu season, and the infection spreads more easily in small rooms and cold air.
The flu strikes indoors
Every year, between ten and 30 percent of the world’s population is infected with influenza, and about half a million people die as a result.
The virus infects from person to person through small, airborne microdroplets that are absorbed through the mouth or nose, for example.
Once there, the virus particles penetrate into the cells of the mucous membranes, where they multiply before spreading further into the body with the blood.
The virus appears, especially from December to March, when we spend more time indoors.
We don’t even need to be near an infected person to get sick because drops from the virus can move up to eight feet through a room after a sneeze.
Research also shows that infectious fluids spread more in cold and dry air, as the liquid is then more easily dispersed and becomes aerosols that can be transported in air streams for hours.
On the other hand, if the air is warm, most of the liquid falls from a sneeze to the ground.
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
- Avoid small rooms where many people are staying.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or with hand spirit.
- Avoid scratching your eyes and nose or biting your nails.
INSECTS IN THE FOOD
In winter, the body benefits from extra nutrition from frozen vegetables and juices. But there are often a few uninvited guests hiding in your healthy meals.
You eat half a pound of insects every year
Frozen spinach and juice provide you with a welcome vitamin injection in the dark. But your food is full of surprises.
Every year we put in between half and a kilo of insects, which are naturally found in our food.
Small animals cannot be avoided in today’s industrial food production, but do not pose a health risk.
Fly larvae, aphids, larvae, mites, and millimeters of thrips can hide in broccoli, or the fruit squeezed into juice and end up in your refrigerator.
The US Food Authority has compiled a list for maximum insect value in food: 100 grams of frozen spinach, for example, may contain no more than 50 aphids, and 250 milliliters of juice may contain a caterpillar.
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
- Nothing – remnants of insects in your food and drink are inevitable and harmless.
- Enjoy instead of a free supplement of iron, zinc, and vitamin A.