Thirteen Ways for Seniors to Maximize Immunity

Our senior immune system has a big job to do fighting off germs, environmental toxins, and other threats. Wouldn’t we like to give it a hand to make its work easier? After all, there are many factors that can strengthen our immune response, and some of them may surprise us.

While a balanced diet and regular exercise are essential, they are just two of the effective ways we can maximize our healing powers. Take a look at these immunity boosters.

Immunity Boosters We Can Work on at Home

1. Laugh it up. A good laugh burns calories, boosts our heart rate and strengthens our immune system. One study measured increased levels of certain antibodies in adults after they watched a Richard Pryor video. How about going out tonight to see a stand-up comedian or watching one on Netflix?

2. Avoid overdoing it. Daily exercise strengthens our body but overdoing it can leave us weaker than when we started. Set aside adequate time for rest and sleep. Cut back if our energy level is chronically low.

3. Bask in the sun. Hold onto our sunscreen to protect us from skin cancer and premature aging, but small amounts of sunlight will give us the vitamin D we need for healing.

4. Listen to music. Losing ourselves in music is a constructive way to manage the stress that can otherwise undermine our immune system. Arrange a soundtrack for our morning commute.

5. Reduce noise. On the other hand, unpleasant background noises can compound daily stress. Keep our earbuds handy to block out car alarms and talking traffic signals.

6. Hang out with friends. Isolation is also hard on our immune system. Call up a friend for a coffee date.

7. Eat yogurt or other foods rich in probiotics such as sourdough bread or acidophilus milk.  These have been associated with a lower rate of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. Stir toasted oats and almonds into a cup of yogurt for breakfast. Other good choices include soft cheeses, and miso (a fermented seasoning paste of soybeans, often with rice or barley added, used especially to flavor soups and sauces).

 8. Drink tea. Consider trading in our second cup of coffee for a helping of tea. It’s full of phytochemicals and other substances that help to prime our immune system for action.

9. Think positively. A cheerful attitude is one of the best defenses against illness. Plus, even if we feel under the weather, patience will lessen our discomfort.

Immunity Boosters We can Work on with Our Doctor

1. Get our shots. Maybe we think shots are for school kids and exotic travel. Actually, tetanus boosters and flu vaccines are recommended for many patients. Ask our doctor if they’re appropriate for us.

1. Get our shots. Maybe we think shots are for school kids and exotic travel. Actually, tetanus boosters and flu vaccines are recommended for many patients. Ask our doctor if they’re appropriate for us.

2. Schedule screenings. Screenings help detect cancer and other conditions early on while they’re still curable or controllable. Many tests are quick, safe, and painless.

3. Quit smoking. It’s becoming easier to give up tobacco, so keep trying. Our doctor can help us customize a strategy that works for us, like nicotine patches or online support.

4. Discuss our family history. While we can’t change our genes, we can talk with our health team about how they affect our immune response. That way, we and our physician can better understand our individual risks and how to address them.

Catch fewer colds and protect ourselves from more serious conditions like heart disease and diabetes by taking care of our immune system. A healthy lifestyle and appropriate medical care can extend our life and help us stay active.

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