Boosting the immunity of the elderly

If you or family member have a vulnerable immune system this article is for you. We will be looking at the various ways in which our immune system protects us and how we can very simply support it through lifestyle and nutritional changes.

Due to the current circumstances, we hear a lot of talk in the media about our immune system, and that those with underlying health conditions are more at risk. There are 3 ways that these intruders can penetrate our defense, that is through an open wound to our skin, through our nose and lastly through our mouth. The mucous membranes in our lungs and nose provide a first barrier of defense against these intruders. If they attack these defenses, the body produces more mucous than normal so that the intruders can be caught and held onto, until our frontline soldiers arrive and deal with them. As a result, we find ourselves with a cough and/or runny nose. This simply put is the body’s immune system at work.

There are 3 simple ways in which you can support the immune system of a more vulnerable person.

Firstly, staying well hydrated keeps the mucous membranes ready for action and less vulnerable. If we are dehydrated, these membranes become dryer which makes it easier for those intruders to make a break in that first line of defense. It also helps the body to flush out any toxins that we might have accumulated through the body products or medications that we use and consume.  You can do this by drinking more water, herbal teas and or through food (see previous article – Eating for Hydration).

Secondly, sleep is such an important aspect of our general health but is also vital in keeping our immune system strong. When you feel ill, the one thing we all want to do is sleep. This is because our body is literally spending most of its energy fighting off those intruders. You tend to not be very hungry, again because the body is focussing nearly all its energy on protecting us. So, making sure that you get a good 7-8 hours of sleep, will give your body time to regroup and regenerate, making it ready for battle.

Sweet potatoes and egg hash

Thirdly, gut health is so important. Did you know that about 80 per cent of our immune system comes from our gut? As we get older, our ability to absorb nutrients diminishes a little. Therefore, we want to keep the good bacteria in our gut healthy, happy and strong for two reasons. One, not only will it help to support our immune system, but it will also increase our absorption of nutrients from the food we eat, this again will provide our immune system with the energy it needs to do its work. You can do this by reducing our intake of processed and refined foods. Increasing our intake of fresh vegetables and whole grains is a great way to do this. For those with a sensitive digestive system, it is often better to eat cooked vegetables, as raw ones require more effort and energy to digest and can cause some abdominal discomfort. Lightly steaming them is a good option to help maintain their nutrient content. The Mediterranean diet provides us with a variety of foods and will ensure that your good bacteria receive a diversity of nutrients helping to keep them and our immune system healthy. Zinc and vitamin C are found in foods such as asparagus, broccoli, berries, avocado, eggs and sunflower seeds and are vital nutrients for a healthy immune system. Try out this sweet potatoes and egg hash is a great combination and so easy to make.

Considering the current climate, I am offering free 30-minute discovery calls, to help you pinpoint any health issues you may and to see how some simple changes would improve your health and well-being during these uncertain times. 

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