Six Effective Ways Older Adults Can Boost Their Immune Systems
Your immune system is responsible for fighting against a wide range of infections and diseases. However, as you get older this critical system loses its strength which makes you more vulnerable to conditions like cold, joint pains, headaches, etc. You also tend to get tired easily when your immune system is weak.
If you want to avoid becoming easy prey to minor health problems like flu or cold in your twilight years, then you should take immediate steps to boost your immune system. Here's how you can boost your immune system:
1. Consume Immune-Boosting Foods
Your body’s immunity is greatly affected by what you eat. So, by including immune-boosting foods in your diet, you can become stronger and prevent various diseases. Some of these foods are:
Garlic has immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties and is considered a healthy herb in many countries. Plus, it can lower your blood pressure too (NCCIH).
• Citrus Fruits:
Oranges, grapes, and limes are all citrus fruits and rich in Vitamin C. Vitamin C makes your immune system stronger and keeps your skin healthy as well by contributing to normal collagen formation.
Spinach is infamous for its leafy and supposedly 'bad' taste but it’s packed with nutrients like iron, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins E, B9, and B6. It’s also a rich source of antioxidants and beta carotene which can strengthen your immune system.
• Green Tea:
Green tea is much healthier than your traditional black tea. It’s packed with antioxidants that fight off radicals and oxidants and boost your immune system (NCBI). Some studies have also shown that green tea can help reduce body weight too.
2. Get Vaccinated
Two of the most common threats to a weak immune system are flu and influenza. In fact, government data shows that more than half of ICU beds both in public and private hospitals are occupied by senior patients suffering mostly from pneumonia. So, by getting vaccinated for flu, you can lower the risk of infection by as much as 60% (CDC).
Doctors recommend that you should get flu shots every year after age 60. So, once you become a sexagenarian, make sure that you get your annual shot without fail.
3. Prevent Sleep Deprivation
Your sleep and immune system are influenced by each other (NCBI). When you don’t get sufficient sleep, then your body becomes more vulnerable to infections and force your immune system to work harder.
To ensure that your immune system stays efficient and strong, you should get at least 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep on a regular basis. There are various things you can do to enjoy deep sleep such as taking a warm shower before getting into bed, listening to soothing music, sticking to a fixed bedtime schedule, etc.
4. Exercise Regularly
It’s no secret that a physically fit body is more resistant to viruses and bacteria. So, even though it becomes harder to stay active with age, you shouldn’t develop a sedentary lifestyle at any rate. Besides, there are many simple and less exhaustive exercises that you perform to stay fit such as brisk walking, stretching, and even yoga.
By exercising regularly, you can improve blood circulation in your body, boost the immune system, and also prevent many other serious diseases like diabetes, heart ailments, arthritis, etc. By spending more time under the sun, you also ensure that you get enough vitamin D which is found to be beneficial for the immune system (NCBI).
5. Avoid Stress
Research has shown that stress weakens your immune system (American Psychological Association). It has also shown that older adults are more susceptible to stress-related immune changes. So, it’s critical that you maintain a healthy state of mind at all times and try to live a happier life.
The following are some of the ways you can lower your stress levels:
- Practice relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation.
- Avoid unhealthy foods especially the ones that are deep-fried or rich in carbs.
- Learn to say 'no' to activities that can increase your stress levels.
- Develop new hobbies like reading, playing a musical instrument, etc.
- Get sufficient sleep every day.
6. Cultivate Good Gut Bacteria
There are trillions of bacterial species in your gut but not all of them are bad. Certain bacteria actually contribute to your health, especially the digestive system and the immune system. You can nurture these bacteria through probiotic supplements or fermented foods like curd, yoghurt, appam, etc.
Not only probiotics play a huge role in defending your health against disease-producing agents, i.e., pathogens but they can also reduce the symptoms of certain digestive disorders, improve mental health, and help lose weight as well (NCBI).
It Takes More Than You Think
Most people think that eating healthy and exercising are all that you need to stay healthy and develop a strong immune system. However, there are many other things that you need to take care of to succeed in that endeavour, especially in your twilight years. So, make sure that you implement the tips above, and you will be able to live a truly healthy and happy life.