The leaves are falling, the air is getting crisp and cool, and the flu and the cold season begins to put in an appearance! This is a special concern for seniors in the independent living space. Our immune system weakens as we get older, and we need to be especially vigilant to remain healthy. Below are a few tips to improve our immune system.
- Eat nutritious meals. Get enough fresh fruits and vegetables in your daily diet, as well as lean proteins and multi-grains. Avoid processed foods and animal fat, and limit your alcohol, sugar, and salt intake for your body to perform at its best.
- Get some sun. Twenty to thirty minutes daily of sunshine will help your body absorb Vitamin D and will boost your immune system. Avoid being in the sun when it’s the strongest, between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm, and apply sunscreen and wear a hat if you plan to be outside for more than 30 minutes.
- Stay active. While you’re outside, walk briskly or ride your bicycle if your health allows. Studies show that regular exercise strengthens our immune system and helps us sleep better.
- Get plenty of sleep. A good night’s sleep helps our bodies respond better to stress and inflammation. If possible, nap once a day as well and get at least seven hours of sleep each night.
- Relax and keep a positive attitude in life. Stress releases cortisol, which damages your immune system. Find ways to relax, whether it’s through meditation, prayer or just calmly thinking things through or discussing your concerns with someone you trust. Having a positive outlook releases endorphins, which make us feel good. Spend time doing activities you enjoy, such as reading or listening to your favorite music.
- Wash your hands often to keep germs away, especially after being in a public place or playing with pets.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking 8 cups of water or decaffeinated tea daily will keep the mucous membranes moist and decrease your chances of getting the flu or a cold. A nice hot bowl of soup on a cold day will be comforting and will contribute to your daily fluid allowance.
- Avoid Smokers are more likely to get the flu, than non-smokers, and tend to have colds that last longer. One of the many good reasons to stop smoking!
- See a doctor when cold and flu symptoms appear.