Since the immune system is a complex network of organs, cells and tissues that work together to defend the body against colds, viruses and other infections, people should look for ways to boost the immune system.
A weakened immune system does not fight off germs and infections as well as a healthy one. Boosting the immune system becomes increasingly important especially as people age. According to WebMD in “Myths and Facts About Your Immune System,” studies suggest that people over 65 lose their ability to fight off illnesses. Aging may cause the body to produce less cells in the immune system, or seniors may not be getting an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals from their diets. Experts also believe that ineffective immune systems are not able to ward off cancer cells effectively.
Foods that Boost the Immune System
While there is not one food that boosts the immune system, eating a healthy, balanced diet with a variety of foods helps strengthen the immune system. According to WebMD, studies show that eating foods high in antioxidants like fruits and vegetables is one of the optimal ways to promote a healthy immune system. According to WebMD, “vitamins C, E, and A are antioxidants, as are other compounds called flavonoids that are found in fruits and vegetables,” and these vitamins and minerals support the immune system.
Besides fruits and vegetables, protein is also an essential immune system booster. According to the LiveStrong article “Foods That Strengthen Your Immune System” by Jerry Shaw, people should include protein like lean meats, poultry without the skin, fish, eggs, beans and lentils in their diets. Shaw goes on to state that the protein and amino acids found in these foods supply the building blocks of cells in the body, thereby boosting the immune system.
Other foods like whole grains and oatmeal and foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids or fish oil also help boost the immune system. Shaw writes that olive oil, high in unsaturated fat, is another healthy ingredient in diets that helps build a weakened immune system. Saturated and trans fats should be avoided in people’s diets as they cause inflammation and can make the body’s immune system work harder. Green tea benefits according to WebMD, also help protect against several deadly immune system diseases like cancer and heart disease.
Stress and the Immune System
Ongoing stress, according to WebMD, can weaken the immune system. Things like being in a difficult or dysfunctional relationship, living with a chronic disease or taking care of someone with a chronic disease can cause a weakened immune system and make people more susceptible to illness. Studies show that chronic stress may age the immune system and cause deadly immune system diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
There are several ways people can deal with chronic stress and boost their immune systems. Doing things that increase the feel-good hormone serotonin can help people effectively deal with stress. Engaging in activities like meditation and breathing throughout the day can reduce stress enough to have a positive effect on the body’s ability to fight off disease. Exercise and sufficient sleep are integral for reducing stress and boosting the immune system.
Building the Immune System
By eating a healthy and balanced diet, reducing stress and exercising, people can build a healthy immune system. As people age, especially those over 65, it is important to take steps that boost the immune system.