Houston Chronicle

Here’s how to keep your immune system strong

CORRESPOND­ENT

- By Rebecca Maitland

As everyone’s “health shield,” the immune system is a network of tissues, cells, and organs that tries to keep out germs like bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites and then defends you against them if they manage to get in.

If it senses something in your body that could be bad for you, the immune system triggers the release of special cells that travel to where the trouble is, attack the intruder, and help get rid of it.

So, keeping your immune system strong is important for maintainin­g good health.

“Seniors can improve their quality of life and boost their immune systems in various ways that include eating whole/fresh foods in a balanced diet, obtaining adequate and restful sleep, engaging in daily physical activity, and adhering to medication compliance as directed by your physician,” said Mallory Durst, a physician assistant at The Hallmark senior living community.

Food is a big part of staying healthy.

“We have a corporate dietitian who oversees menus for well-rounded meals for our residents. It takes a village, the whole team, to create optimal living and promote healthy living,” said Sheri Easton-Garret, senior vice president of clinical services for Belmont Village Senior Living.

With the coronaviru­s, there’s a lot of talk about important measures like hand washing, social distancing, and not touching our faces or shaking hands,” said Dr. Anna Cabeca, author of Keto-Green 16. “I feel (it) is just as vital to strengthen­ing your immune system.”

If your immunity is weak or compromise­d, the immune system has a tough time doing its overall job, and your susceptibi­lity to catching coronaviru­s, the flu, a cold, or other infection increases.

“Below are the foods you might not suspect could be keeping your immune system from doing its job, increasing the likelihood that you will fall ill, now or in the future,” Cabeca said.

Fresh vegetables and fruits are good for you. However, foods that should be limited or removed from the diet include white flour, such as bread, cookies, cakes, etc. Most already know that candy and sweets are unhealthy and should be consumed in moderation.

Raisins and other dried fruits, fruit juices with added sugar, unripe bananas, cereals, fast and junk foods, alcohol and beer, and pasteurize­d cheeses all fall into the category of not being good for the immune system. Items such as tofu, meats, oils (sunflower, soybean, corn), should be limited.

Hydration is also important to maintainin­g strong health.

“As we get older, we are not always aware of when we are hungry or thirsty. When we are hydrated, our skin, which is the first defense to germs, is healthy. With continual washing our hands, which is recommende­d during this pandemic, our hands can get dry and cracked, allowing germs in. So, regular moisturize­rs are important,” Easton-Garret said.

Limit your stress

In the current environmen­t of being mid-pandemic, and throughout the year, Belmont Village’s staff also works to limit stress, which can drag the immune system down.

“We work to identify stress in our residents and offer meditation, and yoga, and we help limit worry,” Easton-Garret said.

Exercise and movement are good “medicine” for the body as well.

“Daily exercise such as stretching, moving, walking, weight and strength training can be done at different levels and helps strengthen our immune system,” Easton-Garret said.

Sleep also plays its part in keeping healthy.

“It is important to avoid sleep disruption­s in the night. Most need seven hours a night for good health. When one of our residents is not sleeping well, we work with them to see what they are doing before they try to sleep that could be causing problems,” Easton-Garret said.

Having medical check-ups and vaccines is crucial to keeping up the immune system as well, so stay on track with such preventati­ve measures.

 ?? Shuttersto­ck ?? Seniors can improve their quality of life and boost their immune systems in various ways that include eating whole/fresh foods in a balanced diet.
Shuttersto­ck Seniors can improve their quality of life and boost their immune systems in various ways that include eating whole/fresh foods in a balanced diet.
 ?? Shuttersto­ck ?? It is important to avoid sleep disruption­s in the night. Most need seven hours for good health.
Shuttersto­ck It is important to avoid sleep disruption­s in the night. Most need seven hours for good health.

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