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Getting Older? How to Support a Healthy Immune System

By Sara Butler

There are many things to come to terms with as you get older. Gray hair, achy joints -- these are just the tip of the iceberg. Something else to come to terms with is that your body simply may not work as well as it once did, including your immune system.

The function of the immune system gradually declines as people age, which is why older people are often at risk for health issues such as heart disease and pneumonia. Researchers understand that part of this process is normal, but there are things that can be done to help boost the body's natural defenses as you get older. Here are a few ways you can support a healthy and functioning immune system no matter your age.

Watch Your Vitamins and Minerals

Your diet can have a big impact on your health and wellness. That's why you must focus as you get older on a diet rich in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Eat as many whole foods as you can and avoid highly processed foods that are high in sugar and fat.

It's also important to not skip out on zinc as you age. In other adults, zinc deficiency is quite common, and it's been linked to lower immune system function as well as an increased risk of infection.

You can find zinc in foods such as:

  • Soy products
  • Whole grains
  • Shellfish
  • Legumes
  • Eggs

If you're worried about zinc deficiency, then make sure to talk to a healthcare professional.

Exercise

Exercise is important because it helps to keep your body strong but it also helps to increase immune system function in older adults as it also works to reduce inflammation.

Choose an exercise that works for you and is something you can stick with for the long haul. Tai chi, biking, walking, or swimming are great choices for older adults because they're easy on the joints. Aim for 20 to 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week.

Manage Stress

It's important to realize that it's not simply physical health that can impact your immune system function, it's emotional health too. Too much stress can lower your immune system response.

Older adults are often isolated and maintaining social connections once retired can be a real issue. That's why you should join organizations that help to provide socialization as you age such as religious groups, book clubs, or even hobby clubs.

Take care of yourself as you get older and ensure your immune system is working at its best.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Round Rock, Tex.

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