Machen Sie sich Sorgen um die Jahreszeiten, in denen die Prävalenz von Infektionen hoch ist ? Sind Sie ein älterer Mensch, oder haben Sie vielleicht einen Freund oder ein Familienmitglied, der bzw. das ein höheres Risiko hat?
In diesem Blog konzentrieren wir uns auf die Ãltere Bevölkerung und zeigen Faktoren auf, die ihr Risiko erhöhen, und was getan werden kann, um ihre allgemeine Gesundheit und Immunität zu unterstützen.
Der folgende Blog auf Englisch von unseren Partnern von BioCare gibt diverse nützliche Empfehlungen.
Do you get concerned around those times of the year when the prevalence of infections is high ? Are you an older individual, or perhaps have a friend or family member who is more at risk?
Fear not! In this blog we focus on the older population, highlighting factors that increase their risk, and what can be done to help support their overall health and immunity. Whether it is yourself, or a loved one, there are so many areas that can proactively be addressed to help increase immunity.
WHO IS AT RISK?
In most cases, viral or bacterial infections generally result in mild symptoms, ranging from cold like symptoms to a fever. However, there are some groups of individuals who may develop more severe symptoms, such as pneumonia. At risk individuals can be categorised as those who are aged 70 years and over, and those of any age with a pre-existing health conditions such as Cardiovascular Disease (CVD), kidney disease, and diabetes.
SO WHY MIGHT OLDER INDIVIDUALS BE MORE AT RISK?
An age-related decline in immune function is one of the most recognised consequences of ageing. This age-related change is driven by reduced production of white blood cells, free radical damage, and increased inflammation. The immune system of older individuals is therefore prone to mounting a weaker response to ‘threats’ such as bacteria and viruses than that of younger individuals.
It is common for older individuals to have one or more health conditions which can compromise their immune system further. A health survey published in 2018 reported that 33% of women and 42% of men aged 75 and over were living with cardiovascular disease, whereas the prevalence was around 5% for both genders aged 16-34 years.
Use of multiple medications is prevalent amongst the older population. 1 in 10 people aged 65 and over take at least 8 different prescribed medications a week, with this increasing to 1 in 4 of those aged 85 and over. But did you know that certain medications can actively deplete nutrients? For example, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can deplete iron and vitamin C, blood pressure medications (e.g. diuretics, beta blockers) can deplete zinc, and bronchodilators and statins can deplete vitamin D. Commonly prescribed medications can therefore reduce an individual’s level of the very nutrients required for a strong immune system!
Dehydration is common amongst older individuals. Some dislike the taste of water, while others opt for a cup of tea instead, not realising that tea and coffee are ultimately dehydrating due to the caffeine. There is even a suggestion that older individuals may be less likely to experience thirst and more likely to drink less as a consequence. Dehydration can impair blood flow and cellular activity which might then compromise immunity. It is also a risk factor for urinary tract infections (UTIs) and poor kidney health, which can put further strain on the immune system.
Poor digestion - as we get older, stomach acid production tends to decline by 30-40% which can compromise our ability to digest and absorb nutrients efficiently from food. This can make us more prone to nutrient depletion, which can then compromise the health of the immune system and beyond. Many medications also directly impact our gut microbiome, such as antibiotics and PPIs, further compromising our digestive and immune system. Poor digestion coupled with other factors such as low dietary diversity and use of multiple medications, is likely putting older individuals at risk of nutrient deficiencies/insufficiencies which are weakening their immune system, including:
Zinc supports the function of white blood cells and low levels impair immunity. Zinc deficiency may increase the risk of pneumonia amongst older individuals.
Vitamin A supports multiple aspects of the immune response. Deficiency is associated with an increased risk of infection.
Vitamin D supports bone health, immune function, and mental health to name just a few functions. Vitamin D has specifically been shown to help prevent and manage the symptoms
of viral infections in older individuals.
- Iron is vital to healthy oxygen transport around the body. Iron deficiency therefore limits oxygen delivery to cells, driving fatigue and decreased immunity.
PROACTIVE NUTRITION & LIFESTYLE SUPPORT
- Minimise the risk of nutrient deficiencies/insufficiencies by consuming a varied, colourful diet rich in fresh fruit, vegetables, and good quality protein sources, including
eggs, pulses and legumes, good quality meat and fish, nuts and seeds. For those with digestive issues, focus on easily digestible foods such as soups, smoothies, stews, and bone broths.
- For therapeutic support, consider supplementation with immune-supportive nutrients, such as zinc, vitamin A, C, and D. It may be recommended to speak to your doctor or a
nutritional therapist for advice about whether you can take such supplements, bearing in mind any medications which you are currently taking and if so, at what dosage.
Support digestion with probiotics from foods (e.g. live yoghurt, kefir) and a well-researched supplement, particularly if you’ve taken antibiotics recently. For those with
particularly compromised digestion, supplementing with digestive enzymes might help by supporting the efficient breakdown of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
Increase your water intake by filling a jug or water bottle at the start of the day and using that as a visual reminder to drink that volume over the course of the day. Aim
for around 1.5-2 litres per day unless instructed otherwise by your medical professional. Sip throughout the day to facilitate proper cellular hydration to ensure maximum benefit.
Exercise, do what you can, and if possible do it outside. This can be anything from a stroll or a hike, to doing yoga and simple stretches in the garden. Engage yourself in
whatever you are physically capable of doing and crucially, enjoy. It is so important to keep moving for your immunity, emotional wellbeing, and overall health.
- If you live alone or are feeling a little isolated, do something fun and positive. Call or have a virtual cup of tea with a friend or family member, play your favourite music and get up and have a boogie, or pick a new hobby such as drawing or painting.
If you would like personalised advice, feel free to get in touch with our Co-Founder and Nutrition Therapist for individual advice.
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