Foods that Help Boost the Immune System in Seniors
You know the expression, “You are what you eat.” There’s a reason that old chestnut is still being shared: The foods you eat are the fuel that powers and nourishes your brain.
Much like an expensive car that needs high-octane gas to perform at its best, your brain needs high-quality foods to function well and maintain a healthy immune system. So, while you may choose to eat lots of processed and fried foods, carbs, and refined sugar, you may not perform at your best. You may feel rundown or fatigued, for example; you may get sick more often, or it may take you longer to shake a cold. But there are foods to help boost the immune system in seniors.
What foods help boost your immune system and offer you the biggest health benefits to keep your brain and immune system firing on all cylinders?
Foods that boost your immune system
As we age, our immune systems don’t work as well as they once did. That can cause our bodies to take longer to heal from injuries or illnesses. It can also cause vaccines like the flu or COVID-19 vaccine not to work as well or not protect us as long as expected.
So, in addition to getting plenty of sleep and exercise, here are some foods seniors should be eating to help them boost and maintain a healthy immune system.
If you’d like to increase your vitamin C intake, you don’t have to eat a bag of oranges or other citrus. This vitamin is in so many foods, it’s not hard to get your recommended daily amount. Just add kale, spinach, red bell peppers, papaya, strawberries, or Brussels sprouts to your diet.
Protein builds and repairs your body tissues and fights bacterial and viral infections. Your immune system antibodies and white blood cells rely on protein. If you don’t eat enough protein, you may lose muscle mass, experience hair and skin problems, be susceptible to chronic fatigue, and even take longer to heal from injury.
You probably know you’ll get protein from beef, pork, chicken, eggs and fish. But if you’re vegetarian or vegan, you can also get the protein you need from yogurt, almonds and other nuts, soy products like tofu and edamame, and buckwheat.
You’ll find zinc in cells throughout your body. It helps your immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses and plays a vital role in healing wounds. It’s also important in giving us our sense of smell and taste.
Like vitamin C, zinc is found in many foods, but some of the best sources of zinc are oysters, crab and lobsters. Not a seafood fan? Not to worry. Red meat, poultry, beans, nuts and whole grains are also high in zinc.
- Vitamin D
Humans don’t actually produce vitamin D; the most common way we get it is from sun exposure. About 50% of the world’s population has a vitamin D deficiency, either because they don’t get enough sun exposure or because they don’t have access to animal-based foods like fish and fish oils, egg yolks, fortified milk, or beef liver.
But you’ll definitely want to get your fair share of vitamin D in your diet. Research has shown vitamin D could help prevent Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and even multiple sclerosis.
For a healthy immune system, hire a personal chef to cook for you.
Well, that’s one way to ensure seniors will get the full health benefits out of their diet. A better way might be to become a resident of a Retirement Center Management community.
At an RCM community, residents enjoy an array of dining options and diverse menus that feature delicious and nutritious meals prepared by a trained culinary team. Residents also enjoy immune system-boosting social opportunities, along with a host of amenities and services that help seniors stay active physically, spiritually, and intellectually.
If you’d really like to know how to boost seniors’ immune systems — and how to boost seniors’ overall happiness — look at what an RCM community has to offer. Contact us to get started.