Let’s Talk Immunity: Natural Immune System Boosters for Seniors
How would you rate your health throughout your life? Maybe you’re the one all your family and friends are jealous of when they’re sick in bed – somehow, you rarely catch the latest flu or cold going around. Or maybe it feels as if you attract every germ there is because you’re always coming down with something. While the immune system may not be one-size-fits-all, it’s meant to protect you from bacteria and viruses and help you overcome the ones that get you sick.
If you’re looking for ways to stay healthy (especially now as the country grapples with the coronavirus, or COVID-19), there are natural ways you can boost your immune system.
Does Aging Weaken the Immune System?
There are pros and cons to aging when we consider immune health. The advantage of aging is your immune system develops defenses against a wide range of germs, bacteria and viruses.
Unfortunately, age eventually weakens your immune system in several ways. As you get older, the T cells and white blood cells in your immune system that fight off and kill antigens lose some of their function and slow down. Fewer white blood cells and antibodies are also created as you age, which makes it harder for your body to fight off new antigens it has never encountered before.
While a weakened immune system is inevitable as you age, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to constantly get sick whenever a new flu or cold is going around. What it does mean is you will need to take additional steps to give your immune system a much-needed boost.
5 Natural Ways to Boost the Immune Systems of Seniors
- Avoid alcohol and smoking. We all know the warnings, but you may not know that excessive drinking speeds up the weakening of your immune system. Smoking does this, too, and can lead to additional health concerns like heart disease and respiratory illnesses. If you want to help your immune system, it’s best to cut drinking out of your diet and quit smoking altogether.
- Exercise Regularly. Daily exercise is needed to maintain a healthy, robust immune system. If you’re already an avid exerciser, keep doing what you’re doing. If you’re new to exercise, consult with your doctor to make sure you know what your body can and cannot tolerate. You should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week, so try walking, jogging, swimming, biking or yoga to help you stay active and healthy.
- Participate in Mindfulness Meditation. Did you know research shows that mindfulness meditation practice may actually increase immune cell count and activity? Besides being a good stress reliever that makes you feel better, meditation can also improve your immune system behind the scenes so that you can better fight off illnesses and diseases.
- Lower Your Stress Levels. If meditation practice doesn’t interest you, find other activities that can help lower your stress and blood pressure. Do you find art or puzzle-making relaxing? Set aside time each day to participate in those activities. Does model plane building or reading melt away all your frustration? If so, do them regularly. Activities like these can help you de-stress, which is good for your immune system.
- Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet. What you eat also plays a key role in your immune health because poor nutrition or malnutrition can leave your body defenseless against illnesses and make you more susceptible to type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even some forms of cancer. Make sure you follow a balanced diet made up of proteins, whole grains, vegetables and fruits to keep your immune system in good shape.
How to Boost Your Immune System with Food
It’s one thing to know you should eat a balanced diet, but it’s another one entirely to understand what foods actually serve as immune system boosters. Incorporating the following foods into your diet can help you stay healthy:
- Unsalted Almonds: Almonds are rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps the immune system function as it should. Almonds are also a great source of protein and healthy fat that your body needs.
- Broccoli: While this may not have been your favorite food as a child, broccoli is rich in vitamins A, C and E, and contains a lot of healthy potassium and fiber. Other dark leafy greens like spinach and kale are also high in vitamin A and are great to mix into smoothies if you don’t like their taste.
- Lemons: Lemons and other citrus foods like oranges, grapefruits and clementines are great for your immune health. They have antioxidant effects, support immunity and can even help with weight loss.
- Yogurt: Yogurt is a good source of vitamin D, which helps to regulate your immune health and protect you from diseases. It’s best to eat plain yogurt to avoid added sugars. If plain yogurt isn’t as appetizing to you, try adding granola or crunched up almonds.
- Red Bell Peppers: Red peppers have twice the amount of vitamin C as citrus fruits, making them a powerhouse food for your immune health. You can add these peppers to stir fry, omelets or as a pizza topping to ensure you’re working them into your weekly meals.
Live a Healthy, Fulfilling Life at Asbury
At Asbury, our communities are filled with energy, warmth and camaraderie so that you can truly anticipate more in your retirement years. We strive to help you live a healthy, rejuvenating lifestyle, starting with the variety of dining options and healthy eating choices available at our communities. Each community also offers a beautiful outdoor campus and wellness program, so that you can stay active and fit for longer.
Learn more about our independent living communities and contact us today to get additional information about our communities in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.