Kids are back at school, summer vacations have wrapped up, temperatures are dropping, and before long, people will be headed back inside.
All of that will boost cold, flu, and COVID infections. And of course, if you’re getting on in age, that can be very scary news. Older adults tend to suffer stronger reactions to these types of viral infections, largely due to weakened immune systems.
Like your senses, muscles, and more, immunity typically declines with age. It’s just part of the process: the longer you’ve been alive, the longer it’s had to work.
But it doesn’t have to decline rapidly, and it’s not entirely up to the calendar. There are things you can do to boost your immune system, improve your natural ability to limit illness, and potentially prevent infection or powerful symptoms.
One of the smartest things you can do for your immune system is feed it. Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and other valuable nutrients can all help your body stay healthy, limit the likelihood of an overactive immune system, and provide the tools for a strong and functional immune system.
Whole foods are the best options, so fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins are all a must. Zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin D may all be particularly helpful to bolster immunity.
Exercise is another immune builder. There is research to suggest that older adults that exercise show less inflammation, and greater numbers and functionality of key immune cells.
Both of these behaviors can help you reach or maintain a healthy weight, another immune booster for people of any age. Being overweight can weaken immunity by taxing your system and increasing inflammation.
Managing stress and emotional health may also help improve immune response. There is some data to show that sadness, loneliness, and depression are linked to poorer immune function. Finding ways to improve mood, like getting involved in meaningful relationships, may help.
Your immune function doesn’t have to put your health in jeopardy as you get older. Do what you can to keep your immune function strong so you can stay healthy.