The immune system is a complicated network of organs, tissues and cells working to defend your body against disease-causing invaders. For the most part, our bodies do a stellar job keeping these germs at bay, but sometimes the system fails and our immune systems must put up a fight.
Health professionals are often asked by patients, “What can I do to boost my immunity?” It’s a tricky question that researchers have been trying to answer for years. In truth, there’s no scientifically proven method to boost the immune system’s response.
What we do know is that there are a number of factors involved and a number of healthy lifestyle changes that can help fine-tune your immune system. The fundamentals of a healthy lifestyle include regular exercise, restful sleep, a well-balanced diet, moderate alcohol consumption, not smoking, stress reduction and maintaining a healthy weight.
To avoid infection, regular hand washing is also critical!
As we age, our immune system weakens … which is why older adults are at greater risk for infections, cancer, and other chronic diseases.
According to the American Thoracic Society, respiratory infections are one of the leading causes of death in the elderly, and studies suggest that impaired immunity in older adults can be enhanced with improved nutrition.
Dietary supplements are one way to ensure that nutritional gaps are filled and to reduce nutrient deficiencies. Here are a few supplements to consider to support a healthy immune system.
A Daily Probiotic Immune Booster
Did you know that about 70 percent of your immune system is in your gastrointestinal system? With that fact in mind, there’s no wonder why probiotics, known to balance the gut flora, are recommended to boost your immune system and keep infections at arm’s length.
Most doctors recommend that adults take a multi-strain probiotic with 1 to 15 billion CFUs (check the label for this info) per serving.
As we get older, digestive issues become even more common, making a probiotic even more beneficial to gut health.
In addition to taking a probiotic supplement, try eating prebiotic foods such as onions, apples, bananas and leeks to feed the good bacteria in your gut.
Other probiotic benefits include increased energy and prevention of urinary tract infections, which are more common in both men and women as we age.
Medicinal Mushrooms for Immunity
Mushrooms have been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years.
While medicinal mushrooms can be beneficial for adults of all ages for immune system health, stress reduction and improved sleep, there is evidence that certain brain benefits make them even more of a “must try” for older adults. A study out of Malaysia found that medicinal mushrooms induce nerve growth activity in the brain and protect against inflammation that lead to neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Homeopathics for Immune Support
Homeopathic medicines are known to promote a healthy immune system by using micro-doses of natural substances to relieve symptoms. These over-the-counter products are considered one of the safest classes of medicines.
An Italian study found that people who took the homeopathic medicine Oscillococcinum had fewer respiratory tract infections, and that the supplement could be helpful at improving the health of patients who suffer from respiratory diseases.
Another great benefit of homeopathic medicines is that they won’t interact with over-the-counter or prescription medications. This is a huge benefit to older adults who may be taking medications for chronic disease conditions.Try: Boiron Oscillococcinum Quick-Dissolving Pellets