Throughout our lives, we become more and more vulnerable to injury, sickness, and disease. Many things can happen with aging, such as loss of bone thickness and balance loss, both of which can lead to falls. Some of these issues can also be an issue with a loss of immune function. The state of our immune systems weakens as we grow older, making it more likely that we will not only face common or uncommon diseases such as the common cold, but illnesses and diseases will cause more problems, and at times lead to life-threatening diseases.
Do You Know How The Immune System Works?
Essentially, the immune system in the body’s defense system functions to counteract bacteria, viruses, and foreign substances. Primarily, it is meant to protect the host from excessive chemical exposure. Several cells, tissues, and internal organs of the body are a part of the immune system. The white blood cells function to protect the body from external threat. Their function is to impede the diffusion of viruses and bacteria, as well as other unwanted invaders that might attack the body, including cancer cells. Getting sick from germs and viruses would be impossible without the immune system. Unfortunately as you get older, the immune system weakens, making chronic illnesses more likely for seniors.
How does the immune system affect older adults?
The immune system, as we know, is very important but aging can cause the effectiveness of the immune system to wane. In the end, the body may heal more slowly, as the immune system becomes slower to respond. In addition, the immune system’s ability to solve cell defects is reduced, making it difficult for the body to fight cancer. All of these factors make you more susceptible to getting sick and to acquiring some diseases. Influenza vaccines and other vaccines may not work as well or as long as they are expected to. Occasionally, autoimmune disorders are encountered in which the immune system mistakenly targets and destroys normal body tissue.
Eat well-balanced meals
Poor nutrition can impair the immune system, weaken bones and muscles, and lead to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. In addition to reducing immunity, an unhealthy diet may also cause heart disease and possibly cancer. An immune system that is healthy includes foods rich in the following nutrients and vitamins. A healthy diet involves a variety of potatoes and fruits, full grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy, and protein foods such as:
- Nutritional protein can be found in fish, poultry, eggs, beans, and peas, as well as fish oils.
- Several foods can provide vitamins A, such as sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, and spinach
- A diet full of vitamin C foods like strawberries, citrus fruits, and cereals.
- Peanut butter, almonds, hazelnuts, and grape seed oil contain Vitamin E.
- Many foods, such as lean meat, poultry, milk, cereals and beans are good sources of zinc.
How to Boost Your Immune System
There are ways to strengthen an immune system that can be taken by senior citizens, as well as things to avoid so that your immune system can function properly.
What to do improving immune health can be accomplished in many ways?
Eat Healthy — Food is one of the most influential factors affecting immunity. If you do not consume the proper foods, then your immune system will suffer. Luckily, there are several food types you can consume to naturally boost your immune health and functioning. Get a diet which has high protein content, for instance, helps your immune system to be stronger. Besides meats and beans, you should also prioritize foods like garlic, spinach, turmeric, ginger, and more.
Exercise — In addition to helping with weight management and self-esteem, exercise has a number of additional benefits including an improvement in immunity. Exercise such as bicycling or walking can assist your immune system, as can even playing golf.
Sleep — Research suggests that people who don’t get enough sleep or sleep for long periods of time will be more vulnerable to infections. In addition, not getting enough sleep can affect the speed of your recovery, if you end up getting sick.
What to Avoid
As well as things you can start including in your life, including lifestyle changes you can make when it comes to immune health, there are things you should avoid.
Smoking — Tobacco smoking and using causes a number of different health consequences, from the effects on the lungs and heart to the immune deactivation. In addition to increasing life insurance rates, smoking cigarettes in large quantities can cause immense danger to one’s body. When you smoke cigarettes, you expose your immune system to high levels of tar and other chemicals which can leave you less able to fight off infections.
Alcohol — Almost every body tissue, including the immune system, is adversely affected by alcohol therapy, just as smoking cigarettes does. The consumption of alcohol excessively can impair the white blood cells’ ability to migrate to sites of injury and infection, resulting in immune deficiency and increased susceptibility to certain diseases. Drinking too much alcohol can have adverse effects, so limiting or stopping the use of alcohol can help.
Stress — the effects of chronic or intense stress include a weakened immune system, which has been proven in a number of studies. People who have high levels of stress are more vulnerable to infectious diseases like the flu or common cold. Fortunately, there are various ways you can improve your situation by relieving stress. A natural stress reliever such as exercise is one of the best ways to accomplish this.
Maintaining the body’s health and preventing diseases and infections is a key function of the immune system. In fact, the immune system starts malfunctioning as we get older and many seniors find themselves susceptible to colds, flu, and other problems as we age. The worse these issues are, the more at-risk some seniors become, and the more likely they are to suffer serious health conditions.
(Author is a Microbiologist Certified infection control Auditor, Kidney Hospital Srinagar. Email: Jkakroo@gmail.com)