Six steps for strengthening a senior’s immune system
Simple tips on how to strengthen the immune system
As much as we do not want to admit it, winter is coming. And along with chilly temperatures and chances for snow, comes cold and flu season. Unfortunately, there is no common cure for either illness, but making sure your immune system is strong may help you and your senior loved ones avoid getting sick.
Consider these six steps when trying to keep a strong and balanced immune system this winter season.
1. Eat a balanced and healthy diet
In theory, this should not be too difficult. Eat the right amount of healthy food when you feel hungry. Unfortunately, we also experience unhealthy temptations everywhere we turn. In order to keep your immune system strong, or even to build it up, eat foods high in nutrients, like vitamins A, C, D, and E.
Seniors should focus on eating whole foods, including animal protein, legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables. At Holiday Retirement communities nationwide, each meal is made by professionally trained chefs and prepared to meet the nutritional needs of today’s seniors.
2. Soak up the sun
Vitamin D is critical for strengthening your immune system, so enjoy the sunshine for about 30 minutes a few times a week without sunscreen when the sun is not at its strongest (outside of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Not wearing sunscreen actually allows your body to absorb the Vitamin D, instead of blocking it!
Get outside and enjoy your last few weeks of gardening or taking long walks. If you are not able to easily get outside, fatty fish or a Vitamin D supplement will also do the trick.
Making exercise part of your daily routine can significantly improve your immune system and help to prevent conditions like heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, and more. Exercise is known to increase our immune function and improve sleep quality. If you or your senior loved one have health conditions preventing exercise, many options for fitness are still available, even if it is only a short walk or wheelchair aerobics.
4. Get plenty of sleep
We are all aware that sleep is important, but do we really get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep needed? Fatigue is known to increase the risk of sickness, which is why it is increasingly important to “catch your z’s.” When you sleep you allow your body to heal, rejuvenate and strengthen. A senior adult should sleep a minimum of seven hours per day, and it is recommended for seniors to take an afternoon nap.
5. Welcome friendly bacteria
Did you know 80 percent of your immune system is located in your digestive system? This is why doctors recommend eating food like yogurt, which contains probiotics, a type of bacteria known to have positive benefits on human health. If taken regularly, probiotics can help keep the digestive system balanced and functioning normally. Now researchers, including some at Harvard Medical School, are finding evidence of a relationship between probiotics and the development of the immune system. Unfortunately, frozen yogurt does not contain this healthy bacteria.
It is important to your health to avoid stress and enjoy life. Those under stress are more susceptible to illnesses. In fact, chronic stress and depression can weaken the immune system. Staying active and socializing can also combat depression and feelings of isolation. Simply having a bit of fun can do a lot for your health and your immune system.
Holiday Retirement offers opportunities for seniors to live independent and satisfying lifestyles, including social events and activities, amenities to take the stress out of your daily life, and security to deliver peace of mind. Interested in learning more about a Holiday Retirement community near you? Visit one today!