If you do one thing for your health in 2017, it should be this

If there's one thing to take away from this story, it's that preventative health care should be the number one thing on your list in 2017 (and in life).

We sat down with Nate Jones, founder of Xlear Nasal Spray, to talk about the one thing he thinks families can do to change their lives for the better this year: Focus on preventative oral and nasal care -- and teach kids to do so from the very beginning. In doing so, we'll not only be healthier, but wealthier, too. Think about it -- if you're not spending money on medicine at the pharmacy, time off of work, your stock of tylenol for your family's colds ... how much more would you be able to save? Why not cheat the health system, and let your good hygiene and preventative measures keep you healthy all year long?

Below, our conversation with Nate.

Good oral care and the importance of preventative health is something you're really focused on right now. What can families do -- what can parents do for their children?

There's a lot they can do! I never thought that much about the importance of this until I had kids of my own. I've been in this business for 15 years, long before I had kids, and the interesting thing is that if you want to teach people good habits, when do you do that? When they're young.

The other part of it is, with oral health, you should be taking care with your kids when they have baby teeth. When you have children, and you try to get them to brush their teeth or develop healthy habits, you have to expect they'll whine or complain a bit, but you have to do what's best for them.

It's so important to develop daily hygiene habits with kids before their adult teeth come in. Baby teeth are a trial run. They have to get those habits and do it right. If they wait until their adult teeth come in, they start getting cavities, and then they're already in trouble.

Flu season is here with the changes of seasons. What should we do to prevent the flu, colds and have good overall health?

Well when this time of year comes around, what does the Center for Disease Control tell you to do? Wash your hands. It's the number one way to stop you from getting sick. Really it goes back to hygiene, if you wash away the bacteria before you get sick, the bacteria and viruses won't make you sick.

For your nose, even if you're using a regular saline spray, that's kinda like going to the sink and putting your hands in the water and then shaking them off. However, Xlear keeps bacteria away. With its active ingredient xylitol, it makes it so the bacteria can't thrive. The bacteria try to ingest the xylitol and they can't metabolize it, so it kind of makes them sick. So Xlear is the soap to wash your nose with. You can rise your nose with saline, or you can go in and wash it with, in essence, soap and water.

Or you can get sick and take medicine.

If you go back through the history of civilization, we make great advances in health because of things like people learning how to was their hands, shower, bathe properly, keep their houses clean through plumbing, and water treatment facilities. The key is to improve overall hygiene, and get rid of the bacteria before you even get sick. That's what improves your standard of health.

And improves the size of your wallet! If you stop getting sick.

Yes, very much so. We've done some research looking at it. Your average household income is $45-50k for a family of four in America, and each time one of your kids gets sick, you take time off work to go to the doctor, if you have insurance, you're paying deductible, et cetera. So each time you get sick it costs you money. If you have a job that pays hourly and you're unable to go to work, you're not getting paid.

If you then have to take three hours off, or if you're getting sick or your child gets sick, that's an expensive event. And if you get sick four to five times a year, or a family member does, add all that up and it can be thousands of dollars on your family of four. And it's much easier to just wash your nose, just like washing your hands. The same goes with oral care. If you use a toothpaste, mouthwash, chewing gum with xylitol, it might cost $100 for a family of four. If you prevent one cavity, you're paying for it, and statistics show that you're going to prevent a lot more than just one.

What common misconceptions have you run into about nasal and oral health?

The biggest one that I run into with oral health is "it's their baby teeth, don't worry about it." The misconception is that it's okay if kids get cavities because it's their baby teeth. But once they have their adult teeth, it's too late! So the importance of worrying about it when they're kids is ,if you wait until they have adult teeth and they don't take care of them, there are other consequences besides cavities.

Think about all of the things in your life that can affect you as much as your oral health would. Your smile is the first impression when you walk into a job interview, a college interview, even asking someone on a date. You want a nice smile! The time to do that — and save money on it — is when they're kids. If they have good habits, have the right biome and bacteria in their mouth that won't cause cavities and upper respiratory infections, then you'll have healthy teeth.

If you have a good smile, it'll make you more confident. And if you have more confidence, you'll be able to do more things in life.

How does oral health impact the rest of our bodies?

Heart disease, diabetes, a lot of internal systemic diseases actually have a root in your oral hygiene. What we're seeing is that when you have plaque in your mouth, and then you brush your teeth and your gums bleed, all that bacteria from your mouth goes right into your blood stream. If you think about it, it's a really simple concept. And there's a number of cardiologists now that when someone comes in with heart problems, the first thing they'll do is send them over for a dental cleaning.

When you teach kids how to be healthy and develop healthy habits, then they'll take charge of life and their health in a meaningful way.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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