The Aging Immune System
It is a well-accepted fact that as we age, the immunity system tends to weaken. It is not known why this occurs, but Dr. Atul Butte, MD and professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco and his research team have revealed some insights regarding T-cells. T-cells are white blood cells that fight viruses that enter the body. There are two major divisions of T-cells. “Memory” T-cells are those that have battled a specific invasion, and “remember how to fight it should it return. “Naïve” T-cells are those that have never fought any infections. The naïve cells are essential in fighting any “new” infections to the body. Memory cells only remember the one specific invasion and are non-effective against any new form of infection. That leaves only the naïve cells to battle the new “enemy” and with fewer produced, the elderly, have a compromised immune system, making them more vulnerable to these new infections.
There steps that one can take to help maintain, or slow the weakening of the immune system, in particular the naïve T-cells. You cannot change the genetics that have been inherited, but you have an impact on how they perform.
#1 Exercise Regularly – especially strength training. Skeletal muscles are a major immune regulatory organ.
#2 Self-Knowledge – Know your current health status. Know what has a positive or negative effect on your personal health
#3 Nutrition – a balanced diet – vitamins A, C, D and vitamin B along with folic acid, iron, selenium, and zinc are essential
#4 Medications – some medications have a negative effect on the immune system – visit with your Dr about your medications and their possible effect on the immune system