Dictionary.com defines the immune system as:
“a diffuse, complex network of interacting cells, cell products, and cell-forming tissues that protects the body from pathogens and other foreign substances, destroys infected and malignant cells, and removes cellular debris: the system includes the thymus, spleen, lymph nodes and lymph tissue, stem cells, white blood cells, antibodies, and lymphokines”.
Simply put, our immune system helps to keep us healthy! Most people understand that it is important to keep your immune system strong, but unfortunately, most people have no clue how to actually accomplish that. Today we are going to focus on one aspect of boosting the immune system; Food! Did you know that 70-80 percent of your immune system is located within your digestive system? That statistic should get your brain turning and thinking about everything you put into your body, or more importantly, what you are not putting into your body.
Aging has many effects on the body including the loss of muscle mass, inability to exercise like you used to, thinner skin, and less stomach acid. These changes not only mean you require less calories than you did when you were younger, but low stomach acid can affect the absorption level of nutrients you are consuming. Unfortunately this means you are eating less, but require more nutrients than before. The solution is incorporating the right foods that are high in nutrients into your diet. Eating a variety of whole foods such as fruits & veggies, fish, and lean meats help you to fight nutrient deficiencies while feeding your immune system what it needs to properly function.
Some foods to boost your immune system as you age include:
Unfortunately, we live in a world where just about everything has some degree of processing, but incorporating as clean of foods as possible will do wonders for your immune system as they contain much more nutrients and a lot less chemical dilution. Unprocessed foods include legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Look for a fresh market in your area and start shifting towards a cleaner diet overall. You would be amazed at how powerful this one adjustment can boost your energy levels and immune system.
Blueberries work wonders on brain health, cardiovascular health and immune system health. They may be small but they pack a heavy load of nutrients. If you aren’t a huge fan of eating blueberries by themselves, try adding them to yogurt or cereal.
Certain Vitamins, such as Vitamin E, are unable to absorb properly without the presence of fat. If you are already experiencing nutrient deficiencies due to poor absorption rates, Almonds can help! Almonds are not only loaded with Vitamin E, but they contain healthy fats that allow it to properly absorb.
Honey works as an antibacterial, killing germs while boosting the immune system.
Whole grains are excellent for promoting healthy bacteria in the gut. As we age, the natural levels of healthy bacteria begin to decline, so including whole grains such as brown rice, oats, barley etc are very beneficial to your immune system. Probiotics will also help balance your gut health, so consider yogurt and/or probiotic supplements.
Elderberries are packed with antioxidants and help tame inflammation, protect your heart, and are loaded with vitamins that boost your immune system. The benefits of elderberries are extraordinary. If you are not a fan of them, consider elderberry supplements or syrup. Most elderberry syrup blends include ginger, which is also great for reducing inflammation, and honey.
Citrus fruits are high in Vitamin C which is needed for the immune system to function properly.
These are only a few of the many options out there to get your daily doses of nutrients you need for a thriving immune system. A strong immune system contributes heavily towards your overall quality of life, especially as you age. We strongly recommend you begin implementing some high nutrient foods into your diet now in preparation for the aging process. There are other contributing factors to boosting immune health, but what you consume should be first on your list to evaluate.
Contact Camelot Senior Living for more information or for any questions.