Boosting the Senior Immune System
The elderly immune system is a network of systems that work together to protect against disease, illness, infection, and promote well-being. Taking a proactive approach by combining a healthy diet and healthy lifestyle is key to strengthening the immune system.
Illness affects people of all ages, but people ages 65 and older have a higher risk of complications. Now that the flu season is upon us, not to mention the risk of Covid-19, having a strong immune system is more important now than ever before!
Since 70-80 percent of your immune system resides in your digestive system, eating nutritious foods high in nutrients such as A, C, D, and E, is important for good health. Seniors can get the nutrients they need from whole, unprocessed foods such as fresh fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and lean protein.
Here are some foods that can help boost the immune system:
· Yogurt that contains live and active cultures contain probiotics that help balance gut health and keep the digestive system healthy. You can add fresh fruit or a drizzle of honey for extra nutrition.
· Citrus fruits such as oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, lemons, and limes are good sources of vitamin C, which is key to fighting off infections. Older people tend to have lower levels of vitamin C, and eating a variety of foods that contain this super vitamin can help.
· Berries such as blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries are rich sources of antioxidants and help fight off colds and support immunity.
· Nuts, especially almonds, are packed with vitamin E, which is important for a healthy immune system. Other foods that are rich in vitamin E are dark leafy greens, sunflower seeds, and avocados.
· Shellfish such as clams, lobster, shrimp, and crab, are high in zinc, a mineral that is thought to shorten the duration of colds and flu and helps keep the immune system strong.
· Whole grains provide vitamins B and E that are not commonly found in vegetables and fruit and helps support digestive health. Some of the best sources of whole grains are oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, pasta, and bread made from whole wheat flour, barley, and whole-grain cereal.
· Spices such as garlic and ginger not only add flavor to your foods but have immune-boosting properties and anti-inflammatory benefits. You can incorporate freshly grated ginger or minced garlic to your recipes, soups, or dressings.
· Green and black tea contain flavonoids, a type of antioxidant that contains EGCG, another powerful antioxidant that has shown to enhance immunity. Green tea is also a good source of the amino acid L-theanine, which can help fight illness.
Although good nutrition is undoubtedly important for a healthy immune system, there are other things that are just as important. Try to reduce your stress levels and get plenty of rest. Make sure to get outdoors and take in the sunshine, fresh air, and get regular exercise.
Combining these efforts will help you prevent illness and feel your best!