As the body ages, the immune system tends to weaken, which leaves seniors susceptible to sickness. It can also result in longer recovery periods, as the body’s diminished defenses work overtime to fend off illness. Here are six foods sure to help seniors boost their immune health.
1. Citrus Fruits
There’s a reason people are advised to drink orange juice when they come down with colds. Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and tangerines are an excellent source of vitamin C. This key vitamin helps the body produce white blood cells, which are responsible for attacking harmful germs, viruses, and bacteria. The body does not naturally produce vitamin C, so seniors need to get it through their diet. While bottled fruit juices contain adequate vitamin C, seniors will benefit more if they eat fresh fruit or drink freshly squeezed juice. Bottled juices are high in sugar, and they don’t contain the fiber content of fresh fruit.
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2. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is infused with probiotics, the healthy bacteria that is crucial to digestive health. If the body doesn’t have enough healthy bacteria, it can develop a buildup of bad bacteria. If these intestinal microorganisms are unbalanced for an extended period, it can damage the immune system and lead to digestive distress. Probiotics aren’t the only benefit of Greek yogurt. It usually contains vitamin D, an immune-regulating vitamin that’s difficult to find in other foods.
Seniors who want to boost their immune health should consume plenty of this leafy vegetable. Like citrus fruit, spinach contains an impressive dose of vitamin C. It also has antioxidants, which rid the body of the free radicals that can lead to inflammation and illness. Beta-carotene, a vitamin A precursor that enhances immune cell function, is present in spinach as well.
Many anti-nausea supplements contain ginger, as this ingredient soothes queasy stomachs. While seniors with stomach pains should consider drinking a warm cup of ginger tea, this spice has a variety of applications. It has anti-inflammatory properties, which means it may soothe sore throats and chronic pain as well.
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Watermelon contains a peptide known as glutathione, which is comprised of several amino acids, including cysteine, which promotes overall immune health. Glutathione also has antioxidant properties and effectively protects the immune system from oxidative damage on a cellular level. Seniors can eat watermelon by itself or in a salad with other immune-boosting fruits.
As with orange juice, there’s a reason people with the flu are prescribed chicken soup. Chicken and other types of poultry contain vitamin B6, which assists the chemical reactions that produce red blood cells. When chicken bones are boiled, the resulting broth contains chondroitin and gelatin, which soothe digestive distress.
A strong immune system can help older adults prevent several health issues. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of senior home care Arvada, CO, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. To create a customized in-home care plan for your aging loved one, give us a call at (720) 642-1600.