Boosting your immune system isn’t just important during cold and flu season; it’s critical that you take the same precautions during the spring and summer months in order to prevent illness. Fortunately, there are many effective ways to enhance immunity and improve your well-being as a whole. As a senior, having a healthy immunity has never been more important as this will play a role in your overall health, happiness and longevity.
You have probably heard a lot about the importance of probiotics, especially if you’re taking certain medications.
Probiotics replace the good bacteria in your body so that your immunity is enhanced and better able to fight infection. While there are probiotic pills out there, you can get these healthy bacteria by simply eating the right foods. Aim for foods that are “alive” instead of processed. Yogurt with live and active cultures, soft cheeses like Gouda, buttermilk and Kefir are all good examples.
Naturally, live bacteria needs the right nutrients to thrive, which is why you’ll also need to eat foods that contain prebiotics.
This nourishment keeps the healthy bacteria alive and abundant, thus improving your immunity. Many fruits and vegetables are natural sources of prebiotics, but the ones to focus on the most include bananas, berries, onions, artichokes, leeks, garlic, dark greens, flax, oatmeal, honey and whole grains.
Depending on where you live, you may or may not be cooking for yourself. Whether you’re living in a retirement facility, senior care center or your own home, there are easy ways to enhance your palate and ensure that you’re getting the right types of nutrients into your system.
Of course, the most effective way to have healthy immunity is to eat balanced. Fill your plate with mostly fruits and vegetables and then fill it in with lean meats, beans, low-fat dairy and whole grains.
All of these foods contain the vitamins and antioxidants that are necessary for keeping the immune system strong and thriving. Focus on the colors of your fruits and vegetables as well, since they signify the various compounds in the food. You can also speak to your doctor about taking vitamins to replace any nutrients you may be lacking, especially Vitamin D.
Sleep is important because it is a vital ingredient for rest, rejuvenation and strengthening the immune system. The natural hormone, melatonin, is responsible for making us feel drowsy and establishing a restful sleep.
While sleeping, melatonin supports the immune system and heals the body. Now that you’re getting older, you may have more difficulty sleeping. There are a number of reasons for this, such as not getting enough exercise, stress levels, anxiety and medication.
Taking sleep medication may seem to be the easy fix, but ultimately, it’s not retraining your body to fall asleep and stay asleep. The best approach is to determine what may be causing you to stay up at night and arrange a solution. Examples include incorporating exercise or social activities, writing in a journal to ease the mind of stress and speaking to your doctor about alternative medication.
If you’re not used to exercising, don’t let out the groans just yet. Exercise is a wonderful way to boost your immune system, improve your mood and lead a more fulfilling lifestyle.
Exercise releases chemicals in the brain that make us feel happier, and this in turn can limit stress levels and anxiety. Exercise also improves the production of macrophages, which are cells that attack bacteria. Most importantly, exercise gets the antibodies in white blood cells moving faster and detecting illness sooner.
It’s recommended that adults get 30 minutes of exercise a day, but overdoing yourself can actually suppress the immune system.
Speak to a doctor about what your body is able to handle, and start small such as by walking with a friend for 10 minutes a few times a day or attending a senior-centered exercise program. Even the little things will make a difference, including kicking around a soccer ball with your grandkids.