Over time, our bodies change through the natural process of aging. Many systems are affected as we get older, and this includes the immune system.
During the aging process our immune system is slower to respond to outside “invaders, slower to heal wounds, and may be less responsive to vaccinations. Our immune response does not just slow down with age, it can also become “imbalanced”. Overall, this process is known as “immunosenescence” - meaning the progressive changes in immune system from aging. It is completely normal, and while we cannot “turn back time”, the good news is that there are ways to stay healthy as we get older.
Here are five tips to promote healthy aging of the immune system:
- Stay active - Move more throughout the day by taking short walks, standing up to stretch, doing chores, gardening, or dancing to your favorite music.
- Get plenty of sleep - Create a restful environment by making sure your bedroom is cool, dark and quiet before bedtime. Find something that helps you relax and wind down before you hit the hay, such as taking a bath or shower, reading, or light stretching.
- Add color to your diet - Add colorful fruits and vegetables that you enjoy to daily dishes. The more color you add to your plate, the greater variety of nutrients you are likely to add in. Easy ways to do this are by keeping frozen fruits, and veggies on hand, and using as sides or mix ins for meals.
- Keep clean – Make sure to wash your hands often and thoroughly to help prevent the spread of germs. Scrub for 20 seconds using warm to hot water, and rinse. Sing “happy birthday”, “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees, or “My Shot” from Hamilton.
- Minimize alcohol intake – Try out some “mocktails” with alternative options such as soda water, seltzer, 100% fruit juice, cut fruit, and herbs.