Even if you experienced some health events in your youth that have compromised your immune system throughout your life, there are still measures you can take to make your physical health more resilient.
And that’s more crucial now than ever, not only to improve your general quality of life, but to decrease your chances of becoming a pandemic statistic. 80% of Americans who have died from covid-19 are age 65 or older.
A young immune system, like a well-trained army defending against an invading force, deploys powerful weapons in a coordinated attack on specific targets. By contrast, an aged immune system has less powerful weapons fired with less coordination, targeted less precisely and thus is more likely to be overrun by the invaders.
Here are some ways to strengthen your immune system:
- Don’t smoke
- Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy weight
- If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
- Get adequate sleep.
- Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
- Try to minimize stress
Maintaining optimum nutrition is of paramount importance as we age:
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 happen in the elderly. Older people tend to eat less and often have less variety in their diets. One important question is whether dietary supplements may help older people maintain a healthier immune system. Older people should discuss this question with their doctor.
Fortunately, if you’re residing in a senior living community, your nutritional needs should be met. There are also regular exercise programs and health monitoring to help you achieve your goals.
Keeping your immune system healthy may require some lifestyle changes, but none of the recommendations are too difficult to achieve—even if you are aging in place. And the results are well worth it.