How To Build A Very Strong Immune System With Age

  • 1.5 mins read
  • Wellbeing
  • Written by: Dr. Pramod Mane
Practical health tips for senior citizens

Thanks to the pandemic, people are now a lot more cautious about keeping up their immune system. Though it’s important everyone learn the best ways to care for their health, it’s always been doubly crucial to build a very strong immune system with age.

When you’ve attained senior citizenship, your body and its healing rate start to slow down. Your immune system becomes less able to identify foreign pathogens, and you have fewer white blood cells to fight off an infection. Your antibodies also begin to have trouble attaching themselves to antigens in order to neutralize infections like influenza and pneumonia. That’s why it’s important to take early steps to keep your immune system in tip top shape.

Here are a few things you can do.

Eat well, eat right

A nutrient-rich diet goes a long way towards keeping your body healthy. You need the right mix of food to help your immune system stave off infections. This will also not be the same mix you ate as a youngster, because your body’s digestive system undergoes drastic changes as you age. When you’re older, you move less and your body’s overall function slows down so your body requires fewer calories than it did before. Eating too much despite that can lead to you carrying around layers of unhealthy fat.

You do however need to maintain a good mix of whole foods like fruits, vegetables, fish, and lean meats. A good amount of protein also helps combat the loss of muscle mass that comes with age. Additionally, make sure you’re getting lots of calcium and Vitamin D for your bone health, Vitamin B12 for healthy red blood cells, and plenty of water to keep you well hydrated.

Reduce your sugar intake to help keep your blood sugar at moderate levels and stay away from saturated fats and processed foods. Though you can eat out, it’s better to not make a habit of it and instead rely on home-cooked meals you can control. Additionally, you might also consider taking multivitamin or herbal supplements.

Strengthen your body

Exercise also plays a big part in your immunity. The kind of workout you can do will be limited by your age, cardiovascular health, and bone diseases like osteoarthritis. But you should still aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity three times a week. Try low-impact workouts like cycling, walking, or swimming. You can even take up yoga, as it helps keep your body nimble as well as destress.

Avoid stressing out

Speaking of stress, it’s not something that goes away when you retire. You might still worry about your pension, your kids and grandkids, or a hundred other things. It’s important to take the time to look after your mental and emotional wellbeing.

Though short-term stress isn’t harmful, prolonged stress over long periods can raise your cortisol hormone levels which can disrupt your sleep, cause unhealthy weight gain, and lower your immune system response. Pick up hobbies that help you relax or try out some guided meditation. Socializing with your friends can also be a major stress buster, whether that’s in person or over a call or video chat. Anything that can help you center yourself whenever you’re feeling low.

Sleep like a baby

As you age, there are two sleep-related problems you’ll be dealing with as your circadian rhythm begins to change. Though you may be sleeping about the same amount, you won’t necessarily get it all at night. Older people tend to wake up more often through the night, whether that’s caused by urinary issues or just a changed sleep cycle, and they’re also more aware of their wakefulness. And if you’re not getting enough daytime sleep to make up for your nocturnal awakenings, things can get bad pretty fast.

One way to ensure you’re getting enough sleep is to avoid stress. Cultivate your bedroom to be a relaxing environment. Install some dim lighting, keep it free of clutter like paperwork (which can subconsciously disrupt your sleep), and consider a relaxing activity like reading before you go to bed. Limit your daytime naps to no more than 45 minutes at a stretch so you don’t have insomnia at night, and don’t hesitate to consult a doctor if you’re still having trouble sleeping.

Drop the bad habits

If you’ve partaken in unhealthy habits in your youth, like excessive drinking or smoking, it’s time to stop. Your body can’t take the same kind of punishment anymore, not to mention that they can cause liver and lung disease respectively. The latter also makes you more predisposed to illnesses like the flu, bronchitis, and pneumonia.

Conclusion

Even a simple illness like the flu can be dangerous to a person once they’re over 60-65 years of age; so it is absolutely crucial to pay attention and build a very strong immune system as you age. It isn’t always preventable, but following these steps can go a long way towards empowering your immune system to keep you healthy.

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