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Understanding the Connection Between Aging and Immunity

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The immune system peaks around puberty, and then declines with age after that, ending up degenerating quite a bit. However, with the immune system being responsible for performing so many vital tasks within the body, it is important to understand the connection between aging and immunity, so that you can boost and support your immune system as much as possible.

Changes in the Immune System with Age
As the body ages, there are a number of different ways in which the immune system becomes less effective. To begin with, it finds it more difficult to identify foreign antigens, meaning that autoimmune disorders become more prevalent, while the T cells responsible for remembering which antigens have been previously encountered, are not able to do this quite as quickly. That, combined with the lower count of white blood cells that are able to respond to antigens, means that when an older person encounters a new antigen, their body is less able to remember it, and protect against it. The immune system also contains macrophages, which destroy bacteria, antigens and cancer cells, but these slow down with age, which is one of the reasons as to why cancer is more common in older people. While the immune system is still able to produce antibodies in response to antigens, these antibodies are not as effective at attaching themselves to said antigens, which is why older people experience a higher rate of influenza, pneumonia and infective endocarditis.

Staying Active
There are many ways in which the immune system can be boosted, but physical activity is by far one of the most effective. A study published last year showed that people who have been moderately active throughout their lives enjoy much greater immune system benefits, because physical activity helps to boost the production of cells within the immune system.

Stress Management
Stress is inevitable, but chronic stress is something that really needs to be managed, because this has a detrimental effect on the rate at which you age, as well as on your immune system. Chronic stress causes hormones to be continuously released through your body, and these have the effect of suppressing the immune system over time, while damaging healthy cells within your body. Whether you take some time off and go on a vacation or teach yourself how to meditate, stress management is something that you need to master as soon as possible.

A Healthy Diet
A healthy diet is essential if you want to provide your immune system with all of the support that it needs. Your body requires a wide range of nutrients, and the easiest way to ensure that you are eating these is to fill your plate with a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, as each color indicates different nutrients.

While aging does effect the immune system in so many ways, this does not mean that you will automatically be unhealthier the older you are. Instead, you can take the necessary steps, whether this be working on your stress levels or increasing the amount of exercise you do, to slow down the aging process and boost the immune system, both of which will help you to lead a longer and healthier life.

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