Generally, it’s understood that as you get older, your body slows down. In your head, you still feel age 35, but your body might disagree. There are more wrinkles and sagging in the mirror, the bathroom scale creeps upward, and more hair clogs the shower drain. As unsettling as this inevitability unfolds, it’s downright scary when it comes to your immune health.
Recently, we’ve all seen the vulnerability of older folks during this global challenge. Aging immunity is a real thing. Immunosenescence (imm-you-no-sin-ess-sense) defines a series of deteriorating changes to immunity with age, leaving you more susceptible to infection and diseases. The exact mechanism causing this slow down is yet unknown.
Your immune system becomes less robust and effective with time. It becomes less able to distinguish friendly cells from foreign invaders and attack healthy cells, leading to autoimmune disorders. Immune markers, such as macrophages that destroy bacteria, cancer cells, and more, react slower. T-cells that remember previous invading antigens become sluggish. There are fewer white blood cells to ride to the rescue. A reduced number of complement proteins are available to drive the attack process. And antibodies lose their ability to attach to antigens.
A tired immune response explains why illness is more common in older folks and results in death more often. Scientists have noted that influenza vaccines are also less effective for seniors over 65. But, even so, vaccinations for influenza and S. pneumoniae show lower rates of illness and death.
Diet & Senior Immunity
Getting enough nutrition from your diet becomes more challenging as you get older. Many factors may come to play, including food sensitivities, medicine, illness, allergies, and more could affect nutrient absorption. Most seniors tend to be retired with less to splurge on their variety of fruits and vegetables and may eat less overall. Surprisingly common, this can lead to micronutrient malnutrition.
Your immune system’s fighting warriors thrive on micronutrient fuel. About 30 vitamins and minerals that your body can’t manufacture means you need to supply them. These are known as essential micronutrients. Deficiencies in vitamins A, B6, B9 (Folate), C, and E, plus zinc, selenium, and iron, can alter immune responses in animal studies. Human studies confirm that nutrient deficiencies go hand-in-glove with illness and disease.
So, What Do You Do?
Changing things up in your diet is an excellent way to add variety and enrich your nutrient profile. Ditch the fried foods, sugar, starchy carbs, and processed foods that promote inflammation. Reduce red meat to twice a week and eat more fish and free-range chicken. Add plenty of colorful veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds, and dark chocolate to your diet. Spice things up and add botanical herbs. When you cook your foods, you know what you’re getting, and it enhances the experience. Being stuck at home opens exciting possibilities to introducing new recipes.
Try not to destroy the precious nutrients by overcooking or slathering on sauces and condiments packed with sugar and salt. Eating healthier helps keep your weight down, delivers less “bad” stuff for your body to detox, and drives the focus on repairing and rebuilding your resilience.
Investing in high-quality supplements is a good insurance plan. Remember, more is not necessarily better, as too much may overwhelm your systems. Stick to the recommended dosages. Soon you’ll find more pep in your step and notice contracting colds and the flu less often. And that means success in your efforts to fortify your immune system’s vitality.
Foods to Boost Your Immunity
The great thing about your body is its ability to self-repair and heal. Nutrients are the raw building blocks to help make that happen. Check out some yummy food options to boost your immunity.
|Vitamin B6||Free-range chicken, beef, pork, fish, turkey, whole-grain cereal, oats, wheat germ, avocados, bananas, peanuts, pistachios|
|Vitamin C||Tomatoes, citrus fruit, sweet peppers, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, kiwi fruit, strawberries, black currants|
|Vitamin E||Sunflower seeds, almonds, avocado, beet greens, collard greens, asparagus, spinach, red bell pepper, peanut butter, mango, pumpkin|
|Magnesium||Whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, avocados, wild-caught salmon, banana, cocoa, halibut, free-range chicken|
|Zinc||Oysters, beef, free-range chicken, turkey (dark meat), Alaskan king crab, beans, nuts, dairy|