Foods for the Elderly to Boost the Immune System
Studies show that while many aspects of the immune function decline with ageing, some become overactive. One thing agreed upon is that most parts go through change.
Good nutrition can be vital in supporting the immune system through this change.
Vitamin E is very effective in protecting the membranes of immune cells and is considered one of the most effective nutrients enhancing immune function. It also helps in the formation of red blood cells.
Foods rich in Vitamin E are:
- Vegetable oils, such as soybean oils
- Nuts, such as almonds, peanuts, and hazelnuts
- Seeds, such as sunflower seeds
- Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach
- Fortified breakfast cereals
- Fruit juices
Zinc is only required in trace amounts but is essential for growth and development. Some human studies have indicated that zinc supplementation may provide protection against infection.
Foods rich in zinc are:
- Oysters, crab, and lobster
- Fortified breakfast cereal
- Dark meat (chicken)
- Low-fat or non-fat milk
Probiotics are good bacteria which keep our digestive tract healthy. For a healthy body, strikinga balance between good and bacteria is essential.
Foods rich in probiotics are fermented foods, such as:
- Sour pickles
Fish oil is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, a nutrient which our bodies cannot create naturally. It is excellent in suppressing inflammation and its deficiency has been linked with cardiovascular disease and arthritis.
For vegetarian people, important sources for omega-3 fatty acids can be:
- Seaweed and algae
- Seeds, such as hemp seeds and flaxseeds
- Kidney beans
Bonus: Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and contributes to immune defence by supporting the cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system.
Vitamin C even appears to prevent and treat respiratory and system infections.
Foods rich in Vitamin C are:
- Red & green peppers
- Orange juice
- Grapefruit juice
Keeping track of and taking care of your nutrition will help you to maintain a strong immunity and is one of the keys to a long and healthy life.
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information.
- US National Library of Medicine, ‘The Role of Nutrition in Enhancing Immunity in Aging’, official website (accessed on 9th June, 2020)
- MedlinePlus, ‘Vitamin E’, official website (accessed on 9th June, 2020)
- National Institutes of Health, ‘Zinc’, official website (accessed on 9th June, 2020)
- Harvard Health Publishing, ‘How to get more probiotics’, official website (accessed on 9th June, 2020)
- MedicalNewsToday, ‘What are the best sources of omega-3?’, official website (accessed on 9th June, 2020)
- US National Library of Medicine, ‘Vitamin C and Immune Function’, official website (accessed on 16th June, 2020)
- National Institute of Health, ‘Vitamin C’, official NIH website (accessed on 16th June, 2020)