No one wants to be sick. Even a small cold can be a nuisance and ruin an otherwise lovely week. But for seniors, illness is something that needs to be taken especially seriously. As we get older, our body’s ability to fight off and recover from sickness becomes diminished. This means even minor illnesses can pose a danger to your long-term health.
Your immune system is your built-in defense force that fights off unwanted bacteria and viruses. While it becomes less effective as we get older, finding ways to encourage and boost it is essential to our well being. There are many remedies you can find at health food stores that tout a variety of immune-boosting effects, but whether or not they work is a subject of some debate. There are many conflicting studies about supplements and over-the-counter immune boosters, so approach these with caution.
Luckily, the most effective way to keep your immune system strong, is by living a healthy lifestyle — one that includes a well-rounded and nutritious diet. Here’s what you need to know to encourage your immune system:
Immune System Health for Seniors
The reason our immune systems become less effective as we age is not fully understood by scientists. Theories include reduced production of white blood cells and less effective bone marrow and its manufacturing of stem cells. What we do know for sure, however, is that people over the age of 65 are far more susceptible to infectious disease, especially respiratory illnesses.
Vaccinations are a great way to introduce immunities to your body and prevent illnesses like influenza. However, even vaccines become less effective as we age, with studies demonstrating the flu shot is much better at preventing the flu in children than in seniors. That said, the flu shot has a demonstrable effect at lowering flu rates in seniors, so make sure to ask your doctor if getting one is right for you.
What this demonstrates more than anything, is the importance of pursuing immune-boosting solutions wherever possible. While our immune systems may grow less strong as time goes on, the way we live our life can improve to compensate and promote long-term health.
1 – Live a Healthy Lifestyle
The first and most effective way you can encourage your immune system is by living a healthy lifestyle. According to an article published in Harvard Health:
“Your first line of defense is to choose a healthy lifestyle. Following general good-health guidelines is the single best step you can take toward naturally keeping your immune system strong and healthy. Every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when protected from environmental assaults and bolstered by healthy-living strategies”
Some of this healthy living might seem obvious, but it bears repeating for how important it is to your health. Steps include:
- Avoiding smoking
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Moderation of alcohol consumption
- Getting adequate sleep
All of these steps are an essential foundation for an effective immune system.
Exercise can also be an important factor for healthy living. But it’s important to remember that not all strenuous activity is good for seniors. If you’re looking to introduce some exercise into your lifestyle, make sure to consult with your doctor.
Additionally, while results are still being analyzed, there has been evidence to suggest a link between high stress levels and negatively impacted immune systems. While currently inconclusive, there’s no doubt that long-term stress has plenty of negative effects on physical well-being. Finding ways to manage ongoing stress will have positive impacts on both your physical and mental health.
2 – Eat a Healthy Amount of Varied Food
One possible cause for immunity degradation as we age is a lack of micronutrients that our body needs to maintain a healthy immune system. This phenomenon can actually be observed in the developing world where poverty is more rampant. In these places where healthy diets and varied meals are harder to come by, nutrient deficiencies can be closely tied to a higher prevalence of disease. Among older folks who have a tendency to eat less or eat more of the same things, a similar micronutrient deficiency can be observed. As noted in the Harvard article:
“There appears to be a connection between nutrition and immunity in the elderly. A form of malnutrition that is surprisingly common even in affluent countries is known as “micronutrient malnutrition.” Micronutrient malnutrition, in which a person is deficient in some essential vitamins and trace minerals that are obtained from or supplemented by diet, can be common in the elderly.”
One of the best ways you can encourage your immune system is through eating a healthy amount and variety of food. As we’ve written about before, nutritional supplements can be insufficient at providing holistic nutrition. The best way to ensure you’re getting the vitamins and minerals you need is through real food.
Keeping it varied in the kitchen isn’t always easy. Some of us may not have the time or inclination to cook different, healthy meals every night. Luckily, Heart to Home Meals offers a great solution for seniors concerned about their immune system and nutrition. Consider these options:
There are few things more delicious than Sweet and Sour Meatballs, and Heart to Home Meals offers a tasty and nutritious version! With 20 grams of protein and 7 grams of fibre, it’s a healthy option you can look forward to. SHOP NOW
If you’re a fan of white meat, we’ve got just the dish for you. Our Hunter’s Chicken is another tasty option packed with nutritional value with 240 calories, 27 grams of protein and only 25 grams of carbohydrates. It’s also low in saturated fats and low in sodium. SHOP NOW
Our meals have all the nutritional information listed, so you can ensure you’re hitting all your immune-boosting micronutrient targets. Plus you have an enormous variety to choose from, and all our pre-packaged and freezer-ready meals are delivered right to your door. Eating healthy as a senior has never been easier.
Taking your immune health seriously grows ever more important as we age. While there are plenty of supplements that promise a bevvy of immune-boosting properties, there are simpler and more proven steps you can take to encourage your immune system. These include living a healthy lifestyle, reducing stress, and eating the right micronutrients.
If you’re interested in maintaining a healthy lifestyle that promotes a healthy immune system, visit www.hearttohomemeals.ca today, and find out how easy it can be to eat healthy.
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