When we think of aging, we may think of wrinkled skin, thinning hair, decreased hearing or vision. These are the more tangible signs of chronologic aging. What about your immune system? Just like the other parts of your body, your immune system is affected by chronologic aging. As you get older your ability to create antibodies diminishes. In addition, the neutrophils that are created do not move as effectively and do not adhere to their targets as well. This all adds up to a greater vulnerability to infection with everything from the flu, to bladder infections, to pneumonia and other viral illnesses like shingles. Most experts agree that a weakened immune system is one of the reasons for the increase in cancer as we age. The term medical experts use to describe the process of a fading immune system is "immune senescence." What can you do to fight back?
Keeping fit and active is one of the most important things you can do to keep your immune system stimulated. Unfortunately, too much exercise can actually damage your immune system in the short run. Intense or prolonged exercise can make you even more vulnerable to illness. This is one of the reasons why basketball star Magic Johnson retired from the NBA after acquiring the HIV virus.
A good rule of thumb is to keep aerobic activity no greater than 30 to 45 minutes of varied intensity. If you do partake in intense exercise, it would be wise to take antioxidants and supplements to restore the damage to your immune system.
Too much of any food, even healthy organic food, will further weaken your immune system. Excess calories and the subsequent growth in the number and size of fat cells will unleash a torrent of cytokines (pro-inflammatory substances) throughout your body. In addition to choosing organic meats and vegetables, and eliminating high carb and junk food, overall volume must be controlled. A good target for men is in an abdominal circumference of 40 inches or less. For women the target is 35 inches. Remember, do not measure where your belt goes but rather the thickest part of the abdomen!
THE ROLE OF ALCOHOL
Acute exposure to high doses of alcohol will lay waste to your immune system. The definition of "high dose" varies depending on gender and size. For the average male, a dose of alcohol greater than 3 ounces in one day would be considered problematic; for the average female, the equivalent would be 2 ounces. One ounce of alcohol translates into one can of beer or one glass of wine or one mixed drink. And no, you cannot (as suggested by one of my patients) wait five days with no alcohol then take 15 drinks in one day!
While intermittent, large amounts of alcohol can be harmful, the bulk of evidence suggests that daily, modest use may actually be beneficial. Never mind an apple a day — it turns out a Merlot a day may do you more good!
Our body uses the time of rest to rebuild and restore all of our systems, including the immune system. It seems we need at least six hours of quality sleep each night to be at our top level of function. Unfortunately, many older people struggle with sleep continuity. Everything from persistent pain syndromes, to frequent urination, to decreases in sex hormones such as progesterone can make it harder to sleep restfully.
This is probably the granddaddy of all immune-suppressing events. Witness the frequency of illnesses that occur in the context of significant personal challenges. In addition to being damaging unto itself, stress often will disrupt our exercise and eating routines, and make it harder for us to sleep restfully. This domino effect sets us up for big trouble.
If you are that person who eats three balanced, organic meals every day; who gets a regular, modest dose of exercise daily; who sleeps peacefully for six or seven hours a night; who lives a stress-free existence, you can skip the next section. For the rest of us, read on.
Thoughtful use of high-quality supplements that have been demonstrated to enhance your immune system can play a significant role in maintaining your good health. There is no class of supplements with better scientific evidence of immune enhancement than the beta glucans. Amongst the beta glucans, in my professional opinion, there are none proven better than those in iNR Wellness, made by ImmuDyne (immudyne.com or 1-866-257-8668).
Beta glucans have been shown to improve neutrophil chemotaxis (the ability of white cells to move to their target) and to improve neutrophil adherence (the ability of white cells to stick to their target and kill it). These are properties of neutrophils that tend to weaken as you age.
While no supplement has been demonstrated superior to the beta glucan class when it comes to enhancing your immune system, that does not mean that all beta glucans are the same. As stated in a recent research article in Nutritional Journal (April 28, 2014): "Not all beta glucans are able to modulate the immune function … The manufacturing process, and hence, the isolation method impacts the structure of beta glucans and consequently their effectiveness on the immune system."
It also turns out that the milligram amount of beta glucan listed on the label is not the most critical feature when it comes to its clinical effectiveness. The structural integrity of the molecule, as well as the purity of it, are the most important elements that correlate with boosting the immune system. These qualities cannot be easily discerned by reading the label. One must know, based upon clinical research and the history of the manufacturer, whether or not the beta glucan has the qualities of structure and purity that will enable it to achieve the desired effect.
Many people over 50 choose to make iNR Wellness part of their daily supplement routine. One capsule once or twice a day can help fight back against the assaults to your immune system. I recommend daily supplementing for anybody contending with stress, poor sleep, uneven eating patterns or those prone to frequent infections. Once you're past 60 years old, even if everything else in your life is well-balanced, I recommend starting this as a routine supplement on a daily basis.
An alternative regimen for those who perceive themselves to not be at increased risk by virtue of their healthy lifestyle and a low incidence of infections is to use iNR Wellness intermittently at times of increased risk. Episodes of periodic stress or poor sleep, acquiring the flu or a cold, going on a long trip especially if you are flying, and being exposed to or around others who are ill can all be times when iNR Wellness should be implemented to give you added protection.
Another role for intermittent use in healthy individuals is before and after exercise.
Together with your healthy lifestyle, iNR Wellness should be your partner for healthy living as you move through your golden years. By keeping your immune system humming, iNR Wellness can keep you out of the emergency room, away from the doctor's office and diminish the likelihood that you will need potentially harmful antibiotics. Not only will your immune system thank you, but you will keep that healthy, youthful glow as you move through all the seasons of life.
Follow the advice I've given above, with iNR Wellness, and visit: immudyne.com; or call 866-257-8668.
— Dr. Stephen Petteruti