seniors doing tai chi

As we age so our immunity declines. Genetics partly determines this, but also our lifestyle and environment have a role to play. If our forebears die at an early age, we can modify our gene expression to some extent and extend our life if we do the right things? But what are the right things?  The word senior is also a misnomer as some may be classified as “ senior “when they are 55 years old, and others are “ senior “ at over 75 years old. Age does not matter, perhaps, but our biology does! Maybe a good benchmark for this article is that “ senior “ applies to those over 70. Indeed, that is the age where things tend to go into decline, and one feels one’s age. Some say that happens at 60, so I am generous here.

Digestive issues can arise, such as Gastric Reflux. We cannot eat the same foods as before: our joints become creaky, and there is a tendency to Arthritis and stiffness.  Energy levels are not as good as they once were, and it seems like we are off to the Doctors for this and that. The end of life is looming, and god’s waiting room is around the corner !!  Wow-what a gloomy outlook!  

No ! Seniority does not have to be like that, but it depends on whether one embraces life or waits for things to happen. It is good to be proactive rather than reactive! Proactive means prevention or doing something to slow the aging process, whereas Reactive is waiting for a health situation to arise, then off to the doctors – crisis care!

The significant issues as I see it of becoming a senior is cognitive decline and Lowered Immunity.  We become Sinecent – our  Immune system does not work as it should. Cuts and bruises take a lot longer to heal; colds and flu cases can feel more severe. We are offered Flu vaccines – but are they effective?   Reports are conflicting with research showing flu vaccines for those over 65 range from 20% to 50 % effective for any given season. So what steps do we do take to make up immunity about the rest of the Percentage? Do we take it for granted that we are fully protected when the research shows otherwise? Now I am not anti-vax, but there are some questions to be answered. How about next season? Do I have to be Vaxxed every year?

What about the dreaded Cancer ? is there a VAX for that? Perhaps it is good to look at some things to boost one’s immunity before either the dreaded C or some aggressive virus puts us somewhere we do not want to go. There is a lot we can do to prevent this situation.

OK, so what do we do? 

  • Eat right! Since recent studies have shown that 75% of adult males in Australia do not eat the daily requirement for fruit and veg, this is an excellent place to start! Nutrition is everything to the immune system as it relies on vitamins, minerals and enzymes to work right. A good rule thumb is 20 % protein and 80% fruits and vegetables each day. A little protein with each meal is best to help balance blood sugars, and a high protein meal such as eggs is good to start the day! The Mediterranean diet has had good press as an example of a diet that promotes good health. There has been a lot of information of late on the GUT, aka the gastrointestinal system and the microbiome.  We have more immune cells in our Gut than anywhere else in the body. Developing a good microbiome and friendly gut bacteria has been found critical to maintaining our immune health. The secret? Eat more fibre-rich foods such as cabbage, Broccoli, Brussel sprouts etc. These foods feed friendly gut bacteria.
  • Exercise, especially weight-bearing exercise, which stimulates muscle growth, is perfect for maintaining the immune system.  A minimum of at least two weight-bearing exercise workouts a week is required. Women require the same amount of training as men, no matter what age . Somehow a little resistance training amps up the hormones and affects the body’s ability to make red and white blood cells—a good thing when we are seniors.
  • Herbal supplements -Herbs are here to help and have been used since Adam and Eve and for a good reason. The nutrients of the herbs and their phytochemicals are easily absorbed and recognised by the body as our body has developed over the millennia to identify herbs as foods.   No one herb or supplement will suffice, or one size suits all, as the body needs various vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients to maintain Equilibrium.  Each individual has slightly different nutritional requirements, so customisation must be engaged.   A consultation with a Naturopath or Herbalist can determine the best options based on a Health analysis. Recommended supplements for immune health may. Include the use of herbs such as Ashwagandha, Ginseng, Astragalus and Reishi mushroom and others. Natural supplements are synergistic with others, and no end to what can be taken will boost the immune system – zinc, Grapeseed extract Vit D, Fish oil etc. -the list is endless.                                                                           So what is a simple Immune supplement? There isn’t any! The body relies on synergy and balance, so the correct amount of vitamins and minerals and phytonutrients is better than overloading on one or the another.  Herbal supplements and tonics for seniors are mentioned in another blog on https://adelaidenaturopath.net.au.   If one had to pick one formula only, the best overall supplement is Astragalus 8, made by Fusion Health. This is famous as an Immune enhancing formula that improves energy and adrenal response and stimulates white blood cell count. For prevention, just low doses every day will suffice.
  • Social company: Studies have shown those who embrace community groups and friends live longer than those who are isolated. Isolation without friends or family tends to affect immune function. Being part of a social group affects immunity and whites’ blood cell count -they say laughter is the best medicine!

For further information, go to www.adelaidenaturopath.net.au  for your free whole health checkup.

revised 3/1/21