What is immunosenescence?
You feel a decline in your immunity with time. It is a major symptom of immunosenescence. This is the aging of your immune system and the most emerging challenge in older age. There is a decrease in the production and functioning of your immune cells including T and B cells in the thymus and bone marrow. There is also reduce macrophage activity in lymphoid tissues. This is strongly associated with low ability to fight against infections, the development of immunity after vaccination, and increase risk of chronic diseases (diabetes, heart diseases, hypertension, and cancer). While it’s a clear fact that aging is an irreversible process. You can’t stop this, but you can slow this with good nutrition.
Risks associated with immunosenescence:
To live a healthier life, take care of your immune system. It is your first defense line against harmful and foreign particles. Your immune system must destroy these toxic substances by making antibodies against them. Although, immunosenescence can increase the risk of several diseases in older age.
Some common problems are:
- Your immune system works slowly, this enhances the risk of diseases. Vaccines and flue shorts did not work well and do not protect you for a longer time.
- Enhances the infection and inflammation of your internal body organs.
- You face recurrent and frequent occurrence of ear infections, skin infections, sinus infections, pneumonia, and bronchitis (inflammation of bronchus, respiratory pathways).
- More issues of the digestive tract. Common digestive problems, like diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, and loss of appetite.
- Increases the risk of autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis (inflammation of joints) and celiac disease (not able to digest gluten, a protein found in cereals). As your immune system mistakenly attacks your body cells and tissues.
- You might get cancer at an older age. Because your immune system is no more able to correct or detect the defective cells in your body, lead to mutation. This condition enhances the risk of several types of cancer.
Natural ways to reverse immunosenescence in old age:
Is there any natural way to solve this problem? Yes, of course! You can make your immune system strong again with good nutrition and a healthy active lifestyle. As it provides you with all the essential nutrients, which are required for the proper working of your body.
a-Boost your immune system by Nutrition:
Nutrition is the most effective tool in reversing the immunosenescence. The right amount of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and probiotics are very essential to keep your gut microbiota healthy and active, which ensures the health of your immune system.
Importance of vitamins in older age:
Vitamins are very important in older age to reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome (such as heart diseases, cancer, diabetes, and hypertension). If they are not properly given through diet, supplements are recommended. Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant, reduce the aging process, and kills cancerous cells. Vitamin B-3 is important to maintain your cholesterol level, which prevents heart diseases. Some important guidelines are:
- Consume the appropriate amount of Vitamin E:
It is an important lipid-soluble antioxidant, found in your cell membrane especially in immune cells. This vitamin scavenges the free radicals quickly, which are responsible to enhance oxidative stress and impairs the immune system.
How this vitamin supports your immune system? Vitamin E enhances the production and working of T-cells, which are mostly compromised in older age. According to the studies, older people not getting proper vitamin E in diet usually have a weak immune system. Another study shows that a group of elderly people receiving 200 to 800 mg of vitamin E daily for 4 months have a better antibody response against vaccination. Get vitamin from nature, common sources are leafy green vegetables, pumpkin, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and plant oils.
- Vitamin D is essential to maintain good immune health:
Get stronger bones and immune systems in older age with vitamin D. You can get this vitamin in three ways such as skin, diet, and supplements. Your body’s priority to get vitamin D is through the skin when exposed to sunlight. The second option is dietary sources like fatty fish (such as sardines, mackerel, and salmon), and some kinds of mushrooms (Shiitake). And the last option is supplementation.
Why it is necessary? The enzymes which activate the vitamin D are found in the cells of the pancreas, intestine, and immune cells. Hence, this vitamin plays a crucial role in originating the immune responses, which reduces chronic inflammation. While, inflammation in older age can increase the risk of metabolic syndromes such as diabetes, heart diseases, hypertension, and cancer.
As in the older age, vitamin D level falls in your body. So proper consumption of vitamin D not only assures bone health but immune health as well.
- Probiotics are mandatory for your defense system:
These are the living microorganisms present in your intestinal health, which gives you several health benefits. For a strong immune system, their specific number should be maintained. The important probiotics for your immune system include streptococcus, lactobacillus, and Bifidobacterium. But with age the number of these probiotics declines, which ultimately affects your immune functions.
Research reveals that older people in a nursing home getting probiotics (L. bulgaricus and S. thermophiles) daily for 13 weeks show better immune response against the influenza vaccine. According to the studies probiotics enhances the functioning of neutrophils (immune cells), bactericidal activities, and also increases the release of interferon-alpha. That is important to fight against infections.
Hence, proper supplementation of probiotics reduces the duration of infection by 1 to 2 days.
b-By healthy lifestyle:
At older age, you should be more conscious about your health and immune system. It is not a difficult task you can strengthen your defense system by come easy and simple steps. The basic principle behind this a healthy lifestyle. A healthy active lifestyle is very important to maintain your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol level to prevent disease. Some beneficial tips are:
- Eat a healthy diet:
Which food items should be a part of your grocery list? They must be whole foods like fruits and vegetables. Because they are rich in dietary fibers and antioxidants, which are important to fight against free radicals that are responsible to weaken your immune system. Exclude all refined and processed foods from your diet. And if you are not able to consume the right amount of vitamins and minerals from the diet, you should go for supplements
- Be physically active:
A sedentary lifestyle invites several life-threatening disorders. As in the older age, you are not much active and this factor enhances immunosenescence. Although it is not possible to do vigorous exercises at an older age it does not mean that you adopt a sedentary lifestyle. Therefore, light exercises of moderate-intensity are recommended for baby boomers. You should perform an exercise for at least 30 minutes three days of the week. Some easy exercises include cycling, swimming, yoga, brisk walking, and low-intensity workout. Exercise enhances your blood circulation and gives your body an anti-inflammatory effect.
- Manage your stress level:
Stress gives your body multiple negative outcomes. It effectively contributes to the aging of your immune system. Stress for a short duration is not harmful but chronic stress damages your immunity.
Stress damages your immunity. Stress causes the release of cortisol hormone to cope with the situation. This hormone also reduces other body functions, which are not required in fight or flight condition. Long-term stress lowers your immune responses and makes you more susceptible to diseases.
- Get enough sleep:
Proper sleep is the key to a healthy and successful life. Your mental health defines your entire body health. Lack of proper and peaceful sleep decreases the effectiveness of your immune system in older age. Hence, it is recommended to have at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Some precautionary measures include do not nap for more than 45 minutes in the day time. Choose a peaceful, dark, cool, and quiet place to sleep. Do not drink water an hour before sleep.
- Try to maintain a healthy body weight:
Because being overweight or obese you have more risk of several health issues in older age. Excess body weight increases the inflammation in your body and reduces the immune responses. To be physically active consume natural foods to maintain ideal body weight and boost your immunity in older age.
- Quit smoking:
If you smoke one cigarette in a day, it means you move one step towards your death. Smoking severely damages your immune system. It enhances the risk of many autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. On the other hand, if you quit smoking there is a visible increase in the activity of natural killer cells.
- Maintain hygiene conditions to support immune health:
A clean mouth means a clean body. Hygiene is very important for the proper health of your immune system in older age. Practice good hygienic conditions such as wash your hands properly and maintain good oral hygiene. Cook meat thoroughly, this will kill all pathogens present in food and reduces workload from your immune system. By maintaining good hygiene there is less entrance of toxic substances in your body, which ultimately supports the health of the immune system in baby boomers.
Which herbs are good for your immune system?
Now choose natural herbs to protect your immune system. Because herbs are antagonists to harmful substances, actively fight against bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Chinese medicine majorly uses herbs due to their powerful immune-boosting power.
Important herbs for the immune system are:
How this herb boosts your immune system? By reducing inflammation and pain. It also has antioxidant and anti-viral properties. These significant characteristics of Echinacea make it a powerful herb for your immune system in older age. According to a systemic review, Echinacea is very good against respiratory infections, as it reduces the activity of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which induces inflammation.
Garlic is the most important ingredient of that box. It has a promising role in retaining good immune health. It is a powerful anti-microbial, antiprotozoal, and anti-viral activity. According to a systemic review, garlic contains allicin, which has the potential to fight several harmful bacteria such as E.coli and Salmonella, which involves food poisoning. The supplementation of 0.6 mg of garlic daily can protect against the attack of the parasite. Garlic is also very important to maintain your blood pressure. Hence, by consuming this herb you can enhance your immunity against pathogens and prevent hypertension.
Do you know, herbs control your stress level. Ginseng gives strength to your HPX axis (hypothalamic, pituitary, and adrenal axis). This axis regulates your immune responses against anxiety and stress. While, stress can cause weakening of your immune system in older age, so its management is important. Ginseng is also helpful to keep your immune system in balance by regulating the immune cells (B cells, T cells, macrophages, and natural killer cells)
This herb is commonly known as Lingzhi (a type of mushroom). It contains a noticeable amount of beta-glucans, which involves in the stimulation of immune cells (such as dendritic cells, natural killer cells, and macrophages)
Herbs good for chronic diseases (diabetes, CVD):
Herbs not only support your immune system but also controls your cholesterol and blood sugar levels. As cinnamon and fenugreek seeds have very powerful anti-diabetic properties. While turmeric, garlic, and ginger have a promising role in reducing cholesterol levels, which prevents heart diseases. Hence, these herbs must be a part of your diet in old age.
In the bottom line:
With age, your immune system becomes weak and increases the risk of multiple diseases. Hence, to prevent complications be natural, eat a healthy balanced diet, avoid a sedentary lifestyle, and add natural herbs in your diet.
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