The human immune system is a complex organism; one that is still being studied by doctors the world over. Although much remains to be discovered, studies have concluded that it is possible to improve the immune response through lifestyle choices. Making the right choices is particularly important as we age. Our immune response weakens as we grow older, making us more susceptible to a host of illnesses. Fortunately, there are several steps we can take to give our immune system a positive boost.
Proper diet is particularly essential for older adults. Studies have shown that many seniors suffer from micronutrient malnutrition. Such malnutrition is just as likely to happen in affluent countries as it does in developing nations. Scientists feel that this malnutrition happens because older adults have a tendency to eat less food overall and tend not to stray from their habitual diet. This means that many seniors are not getting the complexity of nutrients that is taken in by their younger counterparts. As a result of this malnutrition, the immune response in seniors is impaired. One way to help combat micronutrient malnutrition is by taking vitamin and mineral supplements. Pills with an emphasis on Vitamins A and B6 are probably good choices. However, the best way to combat malnutrition is by getting such essential nutrients through the food you eat. Try to avoid a meal rut. Visit the local farmers market to pick up extra fresh produce and browse the aisles of the grocery store, looking for new fruits and vegetables to try. A nutrient rich, varied diet can be the key to an improved immune response.
Smoking is dangerous for everyone, but it is particularly so for seniors. Smokers are more likely to contract the flu than non-smokers. Additionally, scientists have concluded that smokers do not always get colds more frequently than non-smokers, but they do have a tendency to suffer from those colds for a longer time period. The longer you have a cold, the greater the toll that is taken on your body. This also puts you at risk for other illnesses like pneumonia, which are particularly hard for seniors to fight off. Giving up smoking is one of the best ways to limit the duration of colds and reduce the risk of a cold becoming a much more serious illness.
Moderate exercise has plenty of health benefits, including being a great way to lose weight and boost energy. It’s also one of the best ways keep your immune system functioning at optimum levels. The good news is that you do not have to push yourself to your physical limits in order to feel these good effects. Indulging in a moderate walk or a light jog a few times a week is usually enough to keep immunity high. Mix this cardiovascular exercise with some light weight training and stretching, and you’ve got a formula to stay healthy for the long run.
The way you react to stressful situations can work to either help or hurt your immune response. Stress is a normal part of everyone’s life, but when stress levels peak, your body releases hormones like norepinephrine and cortisol that are damaging to your immune system. Though it may be impossible to completely banish stress from your life, you can at least moderate your response to stressful situations. Cultivate a more peaceful outlook with yoga and meditation. Make hobbies that bring you joy, like gardening or hiking, a more regular part of your routine. When stressful situations do arise, look for creative ways to manage your response. Talk your situation over with a sympathetic friend and resist the urge to make rash decisions under stress that may only worsen the circumstances. Managing everyday stress more effectively can help you lead a longer, healthier life.
Though some of these approaches might not guarantee that you’ll never have a sick day again, they do at least have the advantage of giving your immune system a necessary boost. That will leave you feeling healthier and more energized in your daily life.
Tom Demers writes for Del-Immune VÂ®, a unique probiotic supplement made from the lactobacillus rhamnosus which is an immune booster.