I always thought I had a good immune system as I don’t get sick very often. At sixty-nine my flu shots were limited to only years when I had surgery. However, during this long lock down, I started to think about my immune system a lot. How good was it actually? And are there things I should be doing differently to maximize my immunity?
I prepared early for the pandemic – I purchased masks, bottled water, frozen foods and medications. I canceled all appointments and allowed no one in my home. While I had all my necessary supplies, the one thing I gave no thought to was preparing my immune system.
Now that I’ve recognized my lapse in emergency preparation, I decided to research best practices for a healthy immune system for those of us over sixty. The first thing I learned is that your immune system does age. It’s called immune senescence, a tendency for an aging immune system to allow more disease and infections.
According to clinical immunologist Leonard Calabrese, infections and inflammation are major contributors to a weakened immune system. But he believes you can turn things around.
Here’s what will help to boost your over 60 immune system:
follow along with me...
Eat a healthy diet
This is a must for everyone, at all times. Vegetables, berries, and lean proteins are the foundation to good nutrition, but there are specific foods that will supercharge your immune system.
Vitamin C has long been touted as an immunity booster so citrus fruits like oranges and lemons are a good choice. But so are strawberries and peppers!
Additionally, Vitamin A has shown to have immunity boosting properties so sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli and spinach are good choices to increase your intake of this important nutrient.
Vitamin E which is found in nuts has also long been touted as an immune booster. A quick shmear of peanut butter can make a big difference!
Another important nutrient is zinc. Found in most lean meats, poultry, milk and some beans, I have always included it in my diet as it’s known as a super wellness booster. I take one capsule daily.
Make sure to examine the quality of your food. Perhaps you’re eating a lot of processed or fried foods. These should be eliminated by including more fresh vegetables and berries.
Maintain a healthy weight
This is critical as most illness resides in the fat cells. If you need to lose weight, take action! Extra weight can cause inflammation which increases your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
If You Smoke Stop Immediately
Try it cold turkey. If you can’t do that, reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke daily. Even if it’s just one, less is best! Keep on that path of slowly cutting the number you smoke. Then attempt a cold turkey day. Just keep trying until you beat it. It can be done! I know from experience and I’ve helped others. If you stop and start again, don’t despair! Try the cycle again. And if you need it once after that. Make giving up cigarettes the goal and keep at it until you win!
Limit Your Alcohol
It’s become a cliché – the middle-aged woman and her wine. Is this you? If it is, you need to reign in your drinking. Excess alcohol makes one more open to infections like tuberculosis and pneumonia. And it can really pack on the pounds. My personal recommendation is 2 – 3 drinks a week. I definitely drink more in the summer but I still try not to go crazy.
Good sleep = enhanced health
This is a super hard one for me but the truth is, you need to sleep! Sleep is when your body repairs and recovers. Try to get between seven and eight hours a night. I usually get about 6 but I’m trying to increase that time.
Move Your Body
Nutrition and movement are the building blocks of wellness at any age! It’s necessary to get your heart pumping for at least 30 minutes five times a week. And this is the minimum. Make sure to include resistance exercise to help build muscle and bone!
Whether you to choose just one of my immune boosting strategies or all of them, it’s important for those of us over sixty to work on keeping our immune system “up-to-date!”
How’s Your Immune System? Please share with us any tips you use to stay healthy!
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