Every year, individuals of all ages are affected by viruses, including flu, which causes symptoms like coughing, fever, runny nose, body pains, chills, and headaches. In general, symptoms may last for three to seven days. Some people with the flu may not experience significant issues, but older adults are at an increased risk, which might be due to their weaker immune systems.
As we age, retaining a robust immune system becomes increasingly crucial to ensure a high standard of living. A healthy immune system aids in defending your body against illnesses, infections, and other health issues. However, as the immune system ages, it naturally changes and becomes less effective at responding to threats.
Fortunately, certain lifestyle adjustments can contribute to improving and supporting the immune system in older adults. Here is what you can do if you are 50 and older.
1- See A Doctor Twice A Year
Seeing a doctor allows you to undergo a comprehensive medical examination of your overall health and immunity. Healthcare professionals may recommend or conduct exams to assess the immune markers and find any underlying medical problems that might be influencing your immune system. Your doctor knows which preventive measures you should take as you age and what screenings to include in your routine medical tests.
You might also be unable to suspect rare illnesses such as mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure, and the symptoms don’t manifest until later in life. Regular screenings will help the doctor make an early diagnosis and provide treatment options. In case of a mesothelioma diagnosis, we recommend you contact a mesothelioma law firm to pursue compensation from the company responsible for your asbestos exposure. Although this may not end your suffering, you or your family can file a case to help cover your medical expenses.
2- Get Your Necessary Vaccinations
Vaccinations are crucial when it comes to improving your immune system. They train your body to identify and fight against pathogens. Different vaccines work for different illnesses, and getting recommended vaccinations at appropriate times is critical for older individuals to maintain immunity.
Aging requires powerful protection because your immune function weakens with time. Get vaccinations such as senior flu shots. Fluad Quadrivalent and Fluzone vaccines are designed for people older than 65 years to help their system combat different infections more efficiently than the standard shots.
You can also get vaccinated against meningitis and pneumonia; however, speaking to your doctor before getting any vaccines is essential.
3- Be Sure To Have a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet is key to a robust immune system.
Did you know that various foods contain different phytochemicals and antioxidants? These nutrients are all crucial for maintaining your immunity as you age. Although foods might not be able to protect you from contracting the viruses, be sure that a healthy immune system can make your body powerful enough to combat them, even if you become exposed.
Make sure to include these foods in your diet when you cross 50.
- Vitamin B: You may suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency as your body begins aging. Add grains, dairy products, meats, beans, and eggs to incorporate vitamin B into your diet. Also, consult your doctor about any vitamin supplements.
- Vitamin C: Choose vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits, broccoli, berries, tomatoes, melons, and bell peppers to revitalize your diet.
- Zinc: Cheese, lentils, beans, oysters, and beef contains zinc. You will probably get enough zinc from your diet; however, speak to your doctor if you need a zinc supplement.
- Selenium: You can find this antioxidant in foods such as meats, nuts, and grains.
4- Monitor Your Stress Levels
Cortisol, a hormone produced by stress, has a short-term immune-boosting effect. However, over time, your body becomes accustomed to excessive blood cortisol levels, which can lead to increased inflammatory reactions and impair your immune system’s capacity to fight off pathogens.
Although it is difficult to live a stress-free life, especially as you age, learning stress management practices may help improve your health and overall well-being. You can participate in activities that you find enjoyable and practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and mindfulness to help lower stress levels. If you think stress is taking a toll on your health, consult a mental health professional to avoid complications.
5- Quit Alcohol
Heavy alcohol consumption can damage your immune system.
Wondering how much does it take to destroy your body’s immunity? Binge drinking (let’s say four or five drinks per occasion) can reduce your T-cells, which help destroy the body cells that have been taken over by pathogens, guarding your body against various infections. Excessive consumption (such as 30 drinks each day) can disturb the balance of your immune system, leading to chronic inflammation.
Fortunately, limiting your alcohol intake for at least 30 days and quitting it can help your body regain T-cell count and immunity.
6- Manage Your Sleep Schedules
Sleep is just as crucial to your health as it was when you were an adult. Quality sleep helps enhance memory formation and concentration, helps your body recover any cells, and revitalizes your immune function, which, in turn, allows you to prevent illnesses.
To get an adequate amount of quality sleep, ensure the following
- Avoid caffeine intake late at night
- Make sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet
- Avoid alcohol consumption, as it may undermine sleep quality
- Maintain a regular sleep routine
- Limit naps during the daytime to ensure a quality night’s sleep
As you age, you may often experience little changes in your sleeping patterns, like no deep sleep or sleeping and waking up earlier, which are entirely normal. However, waking up exhausted, disturbed sleep, and other signs of insomnia are not normal even when you age. Seeing a doctor, in this case, is essential and might help you identify any underlying causes.
7- Limit Smoking
Smoking impairs the immune response and can reduce your body’s ability to fight against sickness, particularly when you cross a certain age. It is also known to interfere with the immune system’s equilibrium, which enhances the risk for various autoimmune diseases (medical conditions when your immune system harms the healthy body cells and tissues mistakenly). Research indicates that smoking may cause rheumatoid arthritis (autoimmune disorder), in which your immune system harms the joints, leading to pain and swelling.
Consider taking little steps to reduce or quit smoking to boost your immune system while you age. You may find support groups or therapy beneficial. Also, speak to your healthcare provider about ways to minimize cravings for smoking cigarettes.
A healthy immune system is an essential element of sound health as it helps your body fight off any disease-causing pathogens like viruses or bacteria. When you start aging, your immune system begins to diminish and becomes less competent when responding to microorganisms. However, with healthy lifestyle habits and strategies, such as getting vaccinated, regular medical checkups, quitting smoking and alcohol, incorporating a healthy diet, and keeping a check on mental well-being, older adults can boost their immune health to prevent various diseases.