One of the things we all have to deal with as we age is the gradual decline of our immune systems. The older we get, the harder it is for the antibodies that protect us from disease to distinguish between friend and foe. In turn, our bodies become more susceptible to autoimmune diseases. White blood cells called T-cells respond more slowly to antigens, which can lead to more frequent and more severe illness.
The good news is there are steps we can take to strengthen our immune systems. By taking good care of ourselves and staying mindful of our aging immune systems, we can help to ensure that our bodies continue to effectively fight off harmful diseases.
First and foremost, make sure your vaccines are up to date, especially the flu shot. Maintaining your vaccinations can give you a big leg up on illness.
Evaluate your diet, and make sure that it’s giving you all the nutrients you need to fuel your body. Avoid foods high in fat and sugar, and try to incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins C and E. As an alternative to red meat, consider eating fish instead. Fish is packed with vitamin D, an often overlooked vitamin that will strengthen not only your bones, but also your immune system. If you’re concerned that you aren’t getting enough nutrients from your regular diet, consider supplementing it with a multivitamin.
Hydration is another key component of a healthy diet. Water is, quite literally, the nectar of life. Likewise, dehydration can bring our immune systems to a grinding halt. Keep water close at hand, and avoid drinks that cause dehydration such as coffee and alcohol.
Sleep is also essential to your immune system’s health. Getting a good night’s sleep gives our bodies a chance to combat inflammation and repair damage done during waking hours. Without adequate sleep, your immune system will struggle to keep up with the demands of your body’s regular maintenance.
Want to learn more about caring for your immune system? Check out this comprehensive guide from the health experts at the Immune Deficiency Foundation.