Most of us seniors are well aware of the reality that life offers us no guarantees. We are not guaranteed the next 5 minutes, much less the next 5 days, months, or years. Still, there are plenty of habits we can utilize that will greatly improve our chances of living long, productive lives.
One of the primary causes of death in “old age” is an illness. An ineffective immune system makes it much more likely that someone will die of pneumonia, Covid-19, or even cancer.
While this is more common in the elderly, even younger people can suffer from an immune system insufficiency. Our immune system keeps us alive every day by fighting off disease-causing bacteria and viruses. It also kills cancer cells.
We can these strategies to boost our immune system and optimize our chances for a long and healthy life:
1. Eat nutritious foods. Along with getting enough sleep, this is probably the most important tip on this list. Eating healthier is the most powerful way to be healthier. Our body is constantly creating new cells that are part of the immune process.
Providing those mechanisms with the right building blocks is one of the most effective ways we can boost our immune system. If we’re not a fan of fruits and vegetables, we can take a multivitamin each day.
2. Exercise. A healthy body leads to a strong immune system. Scientists believe that a strong circulatory system can help to support our body’s immune response. A healthy body weight, normal blood pressure, and overall cardiovascular health minimize the stress on the body which can reduce the likelihood of getting sick.
3. Relax. Stress is hard on every part of our body, including our immune system. We’ve probably noticed that we’re more likely to get sick when we’re chronically stressed. Minimize the amount of stress we’re exposed to and find healthy ways of dealing with stress when it can’t be avoided.
4. Get plenty of Vitamin C. The biochemistry is complicated, but among other functions, vitamin C improves the structure of the skin to keep out pathogens (disease-producing agents). It also accumulates in immune cells and regenerates their oxidative ability which is one of the mechanisms used to kill pathogenic cells.
5. Fast. As we age, our stem cells tend to become dormant. Stem cells are the cells that produce cells. The stem cells that support the immune cells can be woken from dormancy by fasting. Some studies suggest that three days without food is enough to trigger this effect. Others are showing 4-5 days.
Fasting stimulates the body to remove older, damaged cells and the stem cells to produce new cells, including those related to the immune system. There are also diets that successfully mimic fasting sufficiently to show the same results. Search for “fast mimicking diet” online.
6. Avoid smoking. Smoking has several negative effects on the immune system. One of these is the effect of nicotine. Nicotine suppresses the immune system and suppresses the inflammatory response which is an important part of the immune response.
7. Sleep. Not getting enough sleep is a great stressor on the body. The science is quite clear that 7-9 hours of sleep is optimal for the vast majority of adults. If we don’t have time for at least seven hours of sleep each night, it might be time to make some changes.
We might not think about our immune system a lot, but it’s working hard for us every day. We’re exposed to roughly 60,000 types of germs each day. That’s types, not the total amount.
Even in a clean setting, our body is exposed to millions of pathogens each day.
Giving our immune system some consideration can do wonders for our health and longevity. Eat a healthy diet and get enough sleep!
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