Can You Improve Your Immune System?

There’s no doubt that the winter months are prime time for developing colds and the flu. In the winter, when the air is much colder and drier, the flu virus thrives and is able to linger in the air longer. Plus, we stay indoors more, where the recycled air can be full of germs from other less healthy individuals.

For older adults, the flu can lead to especially dangerous complications like pneumonia, bacterial pneumonia and other severe respiratory infections. Seasonal influenza can also lead to chronic pulmonary obstructive disease (COPD) and congestive heart failure, and is responsible for numerous visits to the hospital every year.

This is why it’s vital that you take measures this winter to ensure your immune system is strong and ready to fight off infections. Luckily, there are things you can do give your immune system the boost it may need.

How to Boost Your Immune System and Stay Healthy

The immune system is comprised of a network of organs, cells, tissues and proteins that protect the body from foreign substances, including viruses and bacteria. When it’s working properly, we don’t even notice it. However, when its performance becomes compromised in some way, that’s when sickness can set in. As you age, the immune system begins to change, with some of the cells starting to lose the ability to properly communicate with each other. This allows in more potentially harmful germs.

So, how can you improve your immune system and ward off illness this winter? Here are five tips to get you started on a path to better health:

  1. Choose foods that boost your immune system. It’s time to make some adjustments to your diet, especially if you aren’t getting enough fruits and vegetables. Foods packed with vitamin C like citrus fruits, bell peppers and spinach are a great choice because vitamin C helps increase the production of white blood cells, which are key to fighting off infections. Additionally, choose foods rich in other vitamins, like A, D and E as well as those full of antioxidants.
  2. Add more physical activity to your routine. The stronger your body is, the better it’s able to fight off infection. Studies have shown that people who exercise for at least 30 minutes a day are less likely to get colds than those who lead a more sedentary lifestyle.
  3. Reduce your stress levels. Stress has a variety of negative effects on your health, and a weakened immune system is one of them. If you’re always stressed out, you might notice you’re more susceptible to illnesses and infections. Learn how to properly manage your stress levels, whether you practice some deep breathing exercises throughout the day or enjoy more time with friends and loved ones.
  4. Increase your sleep. It’s a common myth that older adults don’t need as much sleep as their younger counterparts. Seniors should aim for at least seven to nine hours of sleep every night to ensure the body has adequate time to rest, recover and rebuild strength and energy levels.
  5. Get the flu shot. The CDC states that it’s especially important for adults age 65 and older to get vaccinated against the flu due to the fact that they are at a higher risk for complications from the illness. Flu vaccines are updated each season to keep up with the changing viruses, and will better protect you from the virus strain that will be most common this year.

A Fulfilling Lifestyle at Western Home Communities

At Western Home Communities, it’s our mission to assertively create fulfilling lifestyles. This includes a dedication to helping residents improve their health and wellness through nutritious meal options and opportunities to participate in physical activities. You’ll find a variety of senior living options and care services to ensure you’re living your best life, on your terms. To learn more about the healthy lifestyle offered at our vibrant community, please contact us today.