Dietary Methods for Elderly to Improve Immunity and Prevent Infection

“Mr. Smith still looks so young at the age of 60! What’s the secret?” Many elderly people around us sometimes ‘wow’ us with their wellness at an old age.

There’s no secret. 

They keep their lifestyle simple and have proven dietary habits in place. They feed their immune system to be strong and fight infections, so they can live longer and happier. 

Keeping your immune system capable is essential for your well-being. Good health comprises a strong immune system that is reliable and protective against illnesses. Maintaining a good diet helps you fight invaders and infections to keep your body healthy. 

Why is it important to follow a healthy diet to improve immunity? How to know if you need to visit a doctor near you to professionally assess your health? Read on to know.

Importance of Strong Immune System in Elderly

The immune system is a powerful mechanism of the human body. But when you age, your immunity begins to deteriorate. It becomes inefficient and cannot fight infections and diseases with strength. Thus, your body loses its power. This is when you need to strategize your life with appropriate health guidelines. 

Pick the right exercise and diet that suit your lifestyle and health condition. Even if the internet is filled with example guidelines, there is no universally right diet. What suits me may not suit you. So, the right way for me to take the best care of my health is to find a trusted medical center near me and come up with my own customized diet plan. 

Maintaining a balanced diet can surely help us lead a contented, healthy life. If you have any issues or allergies to certain foods, let your doctor know of them before prescribing a diet plan. 

Good eating along with some of the other healthy practices listed below can boost the elderly’s immunity to a great extent. 

  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Take a lot of water. 
  • Get vaccinated, especially the annual flu shot.
  • Maintain personal hygiene. Wash your hands often.
  • Connect with others and exchange value. 
  • Spend time outdoors, and discover the world. 
  • Keep moving. Stay as mobile as possible.
  • Avoid stress triggers.
  • Know of an online doctor or family doctor near you whom you can reach at the time of need.

5 Tips to Strengthen Your Immune System

Here are the 4 fool-proof tips that we have extracted through research. Before we get to the details, we suggest you minimize the intake of alcohol and avoid smoking for a healthier, longer life. 

  1. Eat a Balanced Diet

Eating right is the most important habit for all, regardless of age. A healthy diet is crucial to your immune system. With age, you feel a difference in your nutrition requirements and dietary habits for various reasons. 

The main concern is that poor eating habits or malnutrition leads to weakened immunity and harms heart health. Additionally, it can lead to Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and muscle and bone weaknesses. Here, the question arises, what can you eat as a balanced diet?

A balanced diet comprises of whole grains, whole fruits, fresh vegetables, low-fat or fat-free dairy, and a good combination of meat proteins. The American Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends following a healthy dietary pattern at every stage of life. 

  1. Foods to Boost Gut Health 

Your gut is connected directly to your immune system. If your gut microbiome is fit and healthy, your immune system is also in good shape. It better detects and fights off different health conditions due to infections. 

Source: iStock

Want to maintain a healthy gut microbiome?

  • Add lots of fiber-rich foods to your diet. These foods include beans, nuts, whole grains, fruits, and seeds.
  • Avoid self-medication and unwanted use of antibiotics.
  • Have access to fermented foods, like yogurt, kimchi, miso, kefir, sauerkraut and kombucha.
  • Avoid stress.
  • Stay active. 

These habits can greatly help improve your gut health.

  1. Add Nutrients to Your Diet Plan

Take plenty of natural fruits and vegetables because they contain antioxidants and nutrients. Many vitamins boost the immune system. 

Avoid repeating the same meal items every alternative day. We enlist some specific essential health nutrients below:

  • Protein

Proteins are the nutrients we take in our daily life. They include different meats, like seafood, lean meats, poultry, and beans and peas.

  • Zinc

Zinc is a mineral. Foods like cheese, lentils, beef, and oysters are rich in Zinc. It is sufficient in our routine diet, but doctors recommend a supplement in certain cases. 

  • Selenium

Selenium is an antioxidant. It is found in many different food sources, such as nuts, grains, and various types of meat. It is present in these foods in small amounts, though! 

  • Vitamin A

Vitamin A is another important food resource. You will find this nutrient in foods like sweet potatoes, broccoli, spinach, and carrots. 

  • Vitamin B

Vitamin B is high in popular dairy products like meats, eggs, grains, and beans. Vitamin B12 deficiency is reported often in elderly people. Consult your primary care doctor to assess if you need regular B12 supplements. 

  • Vitamin C

Many vegetables and particularly citrus fruits contain adequate quantities of Vitamin C. Most times, the diet becomes sufficient in supplying vitamin C, so you may not need a supplement. 

  1. Drink More Water

Take eight to nine glasses of water each day to stay hydrated. Here are a few hydration tips for you and all your loved ones:

  • Take a glass of water before and in between meals. 
  • Combine it with some fat-free or low-fat milk or low-fat soup.
  • Carry a portable water bottle all day to sip all day long. 

Water restores nutrients by enabling your body to absorb nutrients and eliminate body waste. Make sure that you take the right amount of liquids every day, neither too much nor too little.

  1. Know Your Nearest Doctor

When you fall sick or have a condition that needs medical attention, timely help is crucial. Always know about the physicians and primary caregivers in and around your locality. This knowledge can come in handy in times of need for you or a family member.

The Takeaway

Getting old does not mean you need to become inactive and restrict yourself from doing what you like. When you cross 60, increase your focus on strengthening your immune system and empower your mind and body to enjoy the rest of your life. 

Keep your immunity at its best. Breathe the fresh air, enjoy spending time in the community, eat a variety of good food, consume moderate amounts of sun time, and get quality sleep to witness how beautiful and peaceful life can be!

FAQs 

  1. What is the age of decline for the immune system?

The state of immune system deficiency is known as immunosenescence. It starts affecting people near or after 60. 

  1. Why are the elderly more prone to body infections?

The elderly are more susceptible to illnesses and infections due to weak immune systems. It does not work as expected. It is due to the increased comorbid conditions and decreased resistance power. 

  1. What are the common signs of a weak immune system?

Following are the symptoms of a weakened immune system: 

  • You always have a cold.
  • Your wounds take more time to heal.
  • Your stress level is too high.
  • Your stomach always seems to get upset. 
  • You catch infections frequently.
  • You feel tired all the time.
  • You are facing continuous hair fall. 
  • You mostly feel tired and lazy. 
  1. Is there any time of the day when my immune system is strongest?

It’s nighttime. The immune system remains at its lowest during the day and works at its peak at night. The system fights invading bacteria in the dark hours. 

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