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The immune system keeps the body healthy by fighting harmful foreign substances like bacteria, viruses, fungi and cancer cells. It is a complex network of blood cells and bodily organs including lymph nodes which are glands that harbor, then release, specialized white blood cells called lymphocytes. Lymph and blood vessels transport the infection-fighting lymphocytes throughout the body. 1

As people get older, their immune system ages with them. There’s even a medical term for it: immunosenescence  or the gradual decrease in immune function that comes with age. Similar to your walking or running speed, the body’s ability to fight off infection inevitably slows. 1

This is the reason why strengthening one’s immune system and proactively keeping it as healthy as possible is important as people age. 1

Because the immune system is not as robust as it used to be among seniors, it takes longer for their bodies to detect an infection, all the more ward it off. The body starts losing the race between bacteria or viruses. Infections are more severe and more of a threat than when you were younger, and you recover from them more slowly. 1

What seniors should do

Like any fighting force, the immune system army marches on its stomach. Healthy immune system warriors need good, regular nourishment. Avoiding obesity and keeping chronic conditions like diabetes under control reduces immune-system stress.2

If you suspect your diet is not providing you with all your micronutrient needs — maybe, for instance, you don’t like vegetables — taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement may bring other health benefits, beyond any possibly beneficial effects on the immune system. Supplements like Ensure offers a balanced diet of vitamins, minerals and macronutrients like protein will benefit overall health plus HMB and protein to help rebuild muscle and strength to keep you aging strong and healthy.1,3

Getting vaccinated is the first line of defense against common infections such as flu and pneumonia among senior adults. Getting adult vaccinations according to recommendations is the best way to protect seniors from infectious diseases.1

Regular exercise is one of the pillars of healthy living. It improves a person’s cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps control body weight, and protects against a variety of diseases. Just like a healthy diet, exercise can contribute to general good health and therefore to a healthy immune system. It may contribute even more directly by promoting good circulation, which allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their job efficiently.2