As we age, our immune systems become less efficient, thereby making us more susceptible to infections and disease. Our bodies produce fewer antibodies and vaccines become less effective due to the body’s slowed production of white blood cells. According to a recent study conducted in Japan of 365 men and women between the ages of 20-90, researchers found that the immune system ages slower in women. While white blood cells declined in both genders as they grew older, some white blood cells (such as T and B cells) in women decreased at a slower rate. Professor Katsuiku Hirokawa from the Tokyo Medical & Dental University Open Laboratory explained that the correlation between gender and the immune system was likely a result of the estrogen present in women’s bodies. Despite your gender or your age, it’s important to build and maintain healthy immunity.
Here are four ways in which you can achieve this:
- Get a flu shot – It’s important to receive recommended vaccines and immunizations as you age; the older you get, the less receptive you immune system is to these medications.
- Exercise regularly – Elevating your heart rate for just 20 minutes, three times a week, is linked with increased immune function. Try to incorporate a walk around the neighborhood after lunch or dinner. Take this time to check out the holiday lights and decorations, but don’t forget to bundle up!
- Quit smoking – Smoking cigarettes takes a large toll on your immune system and has many dangerous side effects. Consult with your physician for effective ways in which you can kick the habit.
- Eat a healthy diet – Incorporate foods that have high antioxidant levels or anti-inflammatory properties in to your diet such as berries, nuts and green leafy vegetables to boost resistance to infection. Garlic and green tea also have immune-boosting properties and are easy to include in your daily diet.
Your immune system will slow as you age regardless of gender, but with these tips you can keep your immune system strong and promote optimal health!