Your immune system plays a critical role in your health, as it protects you from infections and disease. Composed of specialized cells, proteins, tissue, and organs, the immune system works to protect us from invading microorganisms and germs each and every day. Several things can compromise or weaken your immune system, including stress, lack of sleep, being pessimistic, lack of exercise, and failing to wash your hands.
One question that doctors and scientists have been researching is whether your age diminishes the effectiveness of your immune system. While many recognize immunosenescence, or the changes that occur in your immune system as you grow older, some new studies show that the immune system may not necessarily weaken as we age. If you are concerned about your immune response as you age, or if you want to learn more about how your immune system as you grow older, you will find helpful information and research in our following resources, which all are available free of charge.
We have rounded up 50 white papers, scholarly papers, videos, slideshows, multimedia resources, and articles that examine the effects of aging on your immune system; in addiction, some suggest ways to boost your immune system as you age. While we have listed our resources on the effects of aging on your immune system in no particular order, we have included a Table of Contents to help you navigate to the information that is of most interest to you.
White Papers and Scholarly Papers
1. Nutrition, Immunity, and Aging: Effects of Immune and Nutritional Compromise
The American Osteopathic Association publishes AOA Health Watch, a continuing medical education publication that provides updates, treatment plans, and news on various health topics. In their May 2014 issue, the AOA shared information about the decline of immune system capabilities in aging individuals and the increased chances of acquiring infection and cancer.
Three key facts from Nutrition, Immunity, and Aging: Effects of Immune and Nutritional Compromise:
- The nutritional compromise that is common in older adults with chronic medical problems directly contributes to immune compromise
- Aging affects innate and adaptive immunity, which increases risk of infections, malignancy, and autoimmune disorders
- Aging is characterized by an overall decline in T-cell function, and T-cell receptor diversity decreases dramatically after age 65, with significantly reduced function
2. Causes, Consequences, and Reversal of Immune System Aging
The Journal of Clinical Investigation is a venue for discoveries in basic and clinical biomedical science that advance the practice of medicine. In their JCI paper, Encarnacion Montecino-Rodriguez, Beata Berent-Maoz, and Kenneth Dorshkind examine the effects of aging on the immune system and the ways in which elderly individuals’ immune systems do not respond to invaders as “robustly” as those of young individuals.
Three key facts from Causes, Consequences, and Reversal of Immune System Aging:
- Older individuals are not immunodeficient, but they often do not respond as efficiently to antigens
- People of advanced age do not fight off the flu as well as younger people and have a poor response to the flu vaccine
- Aging also affects patterns of gene expression in mature B and T cells
3. How Aging Impairs Immune Response
ScienceDaily shares breaking news about the latest discoveries in science, health, environment, and technology. This scholarly paper from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at yeshiva University examines a study which found that aging may compromise the immune system’s ability to fight infections and respond to vaccines, but that antioxidants helps reverse the loss of immune function.
Three key facts from How Aging Impairs Immune Response:
- Aging can worsen the body’s overall ability to create an effective immune response
- When aging, people’s bodies create an increased production of free radicals that couple with cells’ decreased production of antioxidant enzymes, which results in a buildup of damaged proteins and other molecules that can be toxic to cells
- Elderly people often respond poorly to vaccinations, so antioxidant therapy before vaccination may improve their immune response to vaccines
4. Innate Immunosenescence: Effect of Aging on Cells and Receptors of the Innate Immune System in Humans
ResearchGate connects the world of science and makes research open to all. In this scholarly paper on the effects of aging on the immune system, the authors explain that researchers have found that the innate immunity of older people is negatively impacted by aging. One suggestion to remedy the weakened immune systems of older adults is to reactivate the function of innate immune cells to improve their response to pathogens and vaccinations.
Three key facts from Innate Immunosenescence: Effect of Aging on Cells and Receptors of the Innate Immune System in Humans:
- Diseases associated with aging, such as infections, cancers, and neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases are attributed to a deteriorating immune system, or immunosenescence
- Immunosenescence affects both adaptive immunity and innate immunity
- The negative affects of aging on the immune system make elderly people more susceptible to infectious diseases and a decreased response to vaccination
5. T Cell Ageing: Effects of Age on Development, Survival & Function
Published online by the Indian Council of Medical Research, T Cell Ageing: Effects of Age on Development, Survival & Function provides an in-depth look at age-associated decline of the immune system as a major health concern. The paper explains there “is an increasing focus on the role of T cells during ageing because of their impact on the overall immune responses.”
Three key facts from T Cell Ageing: Effects of Age on Development, Survival & Function:
- The effects of aging on the immune system include a decline in the production of fresh, naive T cells; more restricted T cell receptor (TCR) repertoire, and weak activation of T cells
- There are some potential approaches to restore immunity in older adults via therapeutic interventions
- The efficacy of the immune system decreases as we age
6. How Our Gut Changes Through Our Lifetimes, and How This Determines Our Overall Health
This scholarly paper from the Norwich BioScience Institutes reports on a detailed study that looks into how your intestinal tract changes as you age. The study also considers how the aging intestinal tract determines our overall health. This information is important because “the gut plays a central role in programming our immune system and provides an effective barrier to bacteria that could make us ill. In particular, immune cells that line the gut work to maintain the integrity of the barrier, as well as maintaining a balance that provides a healthy environment for beneficial bacteria, but reacts to combat invasion by pathogenic microbes.”
Three key facts from How Our Gut Changes Through Our Lifetimes, and How This Determines Our Overall Health:
- Changes to the gut barrier’s structure and function contribute to our immune system declining as we age and our increasing risk of infection and disease
- The aging gut has an increase in an immune system regulator that triggers inflammation, and inflammation increases as we age, leading to bowel cancer, bowel disease, heart disease, diabetes, and depression
- If gut bacteria are responsible for the changes in the gut’s barrier structure as we age, it may be possible to manage the changes and help keep older adults healthy with probiotics
7. Effectiveness of Probiotics for Preventing Infections in the Elderly: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
First published in Nutrition Bulletin, Effectiveness of Probiotics for Preventing Infections in the Elderly: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis is a scholarly paper that considers the fact that aging adults are more vulnerable to infections than younger adults, and they often have more severe and irregular episodes. Studies suggest that probiotics have a role in preventing infection in older adults.
Three key facts from Effectiveness of Probiotics for Preventing Infections in the Elderly: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis:
- Older people are more susceptible to infections and often have more sever and unusual episodes because their immune systems are compromised
- Infections are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the elderly
- Older people who receive probiotic supplements for three months have a reduction in the average duration of an infection and a reduction in the frequency of common infectious diseases, especially upper airway infections
8. Evolution of the Immune System in Humans from Infancy to Old Age
The Royal Society Publishing is a publisher of the life and physical sciences and includes the oldest journal in the world. Their Evolution of the Immune System in Humans from Infancy to Old Age showcases the immune system as a body system that matures and then declines as humans move through childhood and into adulthood and eventually into old age. The paper also highlights the fact that changes in the immune system occur as you age that impacts your risk of infection, autoimmune disease, and cancer.
Three key facts from Evolution of the Immune System in Humans from Infancy to Old Age:
- As we age, our immune systems change and decline, which allows for significant risks to our health and survival
- Mortality rates of infections are three times higher among elderly patients than younger patients
- The changing immune system of older adults leads to inflammation, which may be the cause of cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia
9. Vaccines for Aging Populations
Dr. Margaret Liu’s paper on the effects of aging on your immune system explains why vaccines are important to older adults and provides a laundry list of vaccines that they should have. Because your immune system has decreased capacity and you have waning immunologic memory, older people may respond less well to immunizations than younger folks.
Three key facts from Vaccines for Aging Populations:
- While adults have encountered pathogens and have developed immunity to them, older adults are susceptible to new diseases and exposure to new pathogens if they travel or have not encountered them before because of their compromised immune systems
- Aging adults should stay up to date with vaccines because their immune systems are weaker and need to be stimulated so they are better protected from infection and disease
Videos, Slideshows, and Multimedia Resources
10. Aging of the Immune System – Dr. Janko Nikolich-Zugich
The SENS Foundation works to develop, promote, and ensure widespread access to rejuvenation biotechnologies which comprehensively address the disabilities and diseases of aging. They offer a video featuring University of Arizona’s Dr. Janko Nikolich-Zugich, who gives an overview of the immune system and the pathogens it protects us from. As Dr. Nikolich-Zugich explains, the immune system becomes less effective as we age, but there are some promising techniques for overcoming age-related immune decline.
Three key facts from Aging of the Immune System – Dr. Janko Nikolich-Zugich:
- When we age, our immune system produce fewer naive lymphocytes
- The aging of the immune system poses a challenge to longevity
- As we age, our adaptive immunity declines and affects our B cells and T cells
11. Research Shorts: The Immune System and Aging
The University of Birmingham is a leading global university that “makes important things happen.” Professor Janet Lord researches the immune system and the ways in which the aging process affects it. In this video, she explains how her research can be used to treat common age-related diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and cancer.
Three key facts from Research Shorts: The Immune System and Aging:
- Several diseases are age related, so it’s important to understand the aging process
- Older people are more susceptible to infections and diseases
- As you get older, your neutrophils (white blood cells that are part of your immune system) don’t move correctly toward the infection
12. Fasting Triggers Immune System Regeneration
This GeoBeats News video, available on YouTube, explores the work of researchers at the University of Southern California: they found that fasting triggers the creation of new white blood cells, which regenerates the immune system. The body also considers consuming things like glucose and fat and damaged immune cells when it does not have enough energy to run itself.
Three key facts from Fasting Triggers Immune System Regeneration:
- When people resume eating, the body begins to make healthy, new immune cells
- Fasting also decreases the body’s levels of IGF-1, a hormone that is linked to cancer, tumor growth, and aging
- Chemotherapy damages the immune system, and the research on fasting has positive implications for cancer patients
13. Wednesday Workshop – Ways to Strengthen an Aging Loved One’s Immune System
Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center is a non-profit corporation that offers specialized programs and services for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, their caregivers, and their family members. Their video, Wednesday Workshop – Ways to Strengthen an Aging Loved One’s Immune System, focuses on boosting the otherwise weakened immune system of older adults and offers five preventative measures.
Three key facts from Wednesday Workshop – Ways to Strengthen an Aging Loved One’s Immune System:
- Aging impacts the immune system and prevents it from operating at peak efficiency
- Vaccines, especially those for influenza and pneumonia, help protect aging people from getting sick
- Exercise, even in the form of a daily walk, stimulates the production of antibodies and white blood cells
14. Nutrition, Aging and a Healthy Immune System
Tufts University is recognized as a premier research university in the United States. In this slideshow on the connection between nutrition, aging, and the immune system, Simin Nikbin Meydalni, director of the Jean Mayer United States Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts, shares dietary strategies for improving immune response and infection resistance in older adults.
Three key facts from Nutrition, Aging and a Healthy Immune System:
- Older people have an impaired immune response, especially in the T cell-mediated function
- Changes in gut microflora also impair the immune system when you age
- Otherwise benign viruses become pathogenic in older adults who have a weakened immune system
15. How Does Aging Affect the Immune System?
A digital health company that offers tools to help you manage your health, Sharecare features answers from three medical doctors in this multimedia resource for learning more about the effects of aging on the immune system. All three doctors agree that our immune system becomes weaker as we grow older, which makes the elderly especially susceptible to infection and disease.
Three key facts from How Does Aging Affect the Immune System?:
- As we grow older, our immune systems may allow abnormal cells to grow, or they may work too hard and attack normal tissue, as in autoimmune diseases
- Aging, diet, stress, digestive health, and the liver’s efficacy in filtering toxins all affect the immune system
- As we age, the thymus atrophies and produces fewer T cells to fight off infection
Articles and Reports
16. Effects of Aging on the Immune System
Merck Manual Home is an online medical guide appropriate for the whole family. Dr. Peter J. Delves offers an overview of the immune system in addition to comparisons of the immune systems in newborns versus older people in this interactive article.
Three key facts from Effects of Aging on the Immune System:
- As people age, the immune system becomes less capable of distinguishing healthy cells and tissues from foreign antigens, which makes autoimmune disorders more common in older individuals
- Macrophages ingest bacteria and other foreign cells, but they do so more slowly in older people, which may be one reason that older people get cancer more often than younger people
- As we grow older, our bodies produce smaller amounts of complement proteins in response to bacterial infections
17. Immune System: Can Your Immune System Still Defend You As You Age?
The National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health offers some information on the biology of aging in their article, Immune System: Can Your Immune System Still Defend You As You Age? As the article explains, gerontologists are working to determine why the immune system changes as we age, and more research needs to be done to determine whether changing immune response in seniors would be advantageous.
Three key facts from Immune System: Can Your Immune System Still Defend You As You Age?:
- Researchers continue to work to determine whether immunosenescence is beneficial for aging adults
- Stress, radiation, chemical exposure, and exposure to certain diseases speeds up the deterioration of the immune system
- Ongoing research is being done to learn whether there is a way to reverse the decline of the immune system and/or boost immune protection in older adults
18. Lymphatic System and Aging
Tammy Peterson and her company, the American Academy of Health and Fitness (AAHF) work to instill quality of life throughout the aging process. They provide education and resources to older individuals and their families, including this article on the lymphatic system and aging.
Three key facts from Lymphatic System and Aging:
- As we age, our lymphatic system is less effective at protecting us against disease and infection
- As we age, our T cells become less responsive and fewer respond to infection or an invasion by pathogens
- The antibody levels in older individuals do not rise as quickly after an infection developers, which makes them more vulnerable to viral and bacterial infections
19. Immune Function in Older Adults
UpToDate is an evidence-based clinical decision support system authored by physicians to help clinicians make the best decisions at the point of care. They offer a free preview of a report on immune function in older adults reminds us that the study of age-related changes in immune function is fairly new, and most of the research shows that the immune system is less capable in older adults, which increases their susceptibility to infections, cancer, disease, and autoimmune disorders.
Three key facts from Immune Function in Older Adults:
- Pneumonia and influenza are two of the top 10 causes of death in people aged 65 and older, which may be the result of a weakened immune system and a decreased efficacy of vaccines in older adults
- Other factors contribute to weakened immune systems in older adults including malnutrition, diabetes, and decreased cough reflex
- Older adults with severe infections present with different symptoms and a lack of fever because their immune systems do not respond as quickly or as efficiently to infection as younger patients’ immune systems do
20. Effects of Aging on Our Immune System
MySeniorHealthCare.com shares guides to healthy living for older adults. Their article, Effects of Aging on Our Immune System, features statistics on the decline of the immune system with age. The article also examines the changes our immune systems undergo as we get older and explains how those changes make us more vulnerable to illness.
Three key facts from Effects of Aging on Our Immune System:
- The thymus is the master gland of the immune system, and it shrinks down to only 10%-15% of its size by the time we turn 40, making it less effective at converting white blood cells into fully functioning T cells
- The decline in immune system efficacy is due to lower quality immune cells and organs, which is a result of the aging process
- Antibodies also weaken as we age, except for the one autoimmune antibody that gets stronger and attacks healthy tissue and cells
21. Aging and the Immune System – Focus on Naive T-Cells
Vince Giuliano, PhD and chief scientist at Vivace Associates, consults on plant-based substances and the ways in which they benefit health and wellness. He blogs about aging and anti-aging firewalls and has been researching anti-aging literature for more than a decade. In this article, Vince focuses on T-cell research and suggests that there are steps we can take to combat the changes the immune system undergoes when we age.
Three key facts from Aging and the Immune System – Focus on Naive T-Cells:
- Specifically, the adaptive immune system grows weaker as we age, which results in a decline in the production of new naive T and B lymphocytes
- It may be possible to discover safe ways to stop or reverse the decline of the thymus glad and help it remain active in producing T cells as we age
- Some research has found that certain white blood cells survive longer and better protect older people against infections such as the flu
22. How Aging Cripples the Immune System
KurzweilAI is a newsletter and blog covering major science and technology breakthroughs in accelerating intelligence. Their article, How Aging Cripples the Immune System, shares new research that reinforces the idea that antioxidants may support immune function by lowering free radicals.
Three key facts from How Aging Cripples the Immune System:
- Antioxidants may have the power to slow the damage that occurs to the immune system as we age
- Free radicals cause cellular damage and contribute to aging and age-related diseases
- Researchers continue to investigate whether lowering free radicals with antioxidants will improve immune function in
23. Aging Changes in Immunity
The New York Times is known for breaking news, special reports, and more. Their health guide, Aging Changes in Immunity, serves as a report on the effects of aging on the immune system and gives detailed information about the ways in which the immune system weakens over time and our chances of getting sick increase as we age. Aging Changes in Immunity includes background information, the effects caused by the changes, common problems that occur as we age and our immune system weakens, and suggestions for disease prevention.
Three key facts from Aging Changes in Immunity:
- Because of the changes that occur to the immune system with age, wounds heal more slowly
- Older adults should ask their doctors about the immunizations they should receive, including those for pneumonia, influenza, and hepatitis
- Maintaining good health can help older adults remain healthy despite their weakened immune systems
24. Key to Aging Immune System Is Discovered
The University of California San Francisco is the leading university exclusively focused on health. A UCSF research team, led by professor of medicine Emmanuelle Passegué, found “the cellular mechanism responsible for the inability of blood-forming cells to maintain blood production over time in an old organism, and have identified molecular defects that could be restored for rejuvenation therapies.” In other words, the team found that some stem cells falter with age and lose the ability to replicate their DNA accurately and efficiently during cell division.
Three key facts from Key to Aging Immune System Is Discovered:
- Some immune system cells lack specific proteins and are at a greater risk for damage
- Passegué’s team found that old stem cells, despite their damaged DNA, are not ready to develop cancer, as other researchers had thought
- The decline of stem cell function is at the root of age-related problems
25. Periods of Long Fasting Enhances Immune System, Promotes Healthier Aging
Tech Times explores breaking news and top stories in technology and pop culture. Rhodi Lee’s Tech Times article, Periods of Long Fasting Enhances Immune System, Promotes Healthier Aging, explores the findings of a study that show fasting for two to four days helps renew the body’s ability to protect against disease and infection.
Three key facts from Periods of Long Fasting Enhances Immune System, Promotes Healthier Aging:
- Prolonged periods of fasting regenerate the body’s immune system after it is weakened by aging
- Fasting helps to reverse the negative effect of aging on the immune system because the body destroys old, weak, and damaged immune cells as it searches for sources of energy
- As soon as the person resumes eating, the body produces white blood cells in greater numbers and regenerates the immune system
26. Stress and Aging
The American Institute of Stress (AIS) serves as a clearinghouse for all science-based stress management information. They focus on stress and aging in their report on seniors and health; indeed, Stress and Aging explores a number of ways that an impaired immune system affects older adults.
Three key facts from Stress and Aging:
- An impaired immune system results in a decreased ability to resist infection and a decreased ability to respond effectively to other causes of inflammation, resulting in osteoporosis, arthritis, Type 2 diabetes, cancers, and dementia
- Chronic stress is one cause of accelerated biologic aging, and so it has a negative effect on the immune system and its function
- Stress can greatly reduce the immune response to influence and pneumonia in the elderly
27. The Gracefully Aging Immune System
The University of Innsbruck focuses on research and development and ranks high in European academics. Beatrix Grubeck-Loebenstein, of the University of Innsbruck, authored The Gracefully Aging Immune System, which was published by Science magazine, with five other highly esteemed researchers and scientists. The article explores the increasing concerns about healthy aging and the waning of immune responsiveness as prolonged life expectancy becomes a reality in the 21st century.
Three key facts from The Gracefully Aging Immune System:
- Immune reactivity of healthy older adults “is qualitatively and quantitatively different from that of healthy adults”
- More research into the aging immune system is necessary to understand what occurs at the cellular and molecular levels and to help scientists develop a better targeted and effective immunization strategy for the elderly
- Compromised immunity in older adults may be addressed with vaccinations, adequate nutrition, physical exercise, and a high level of intellectual challenge
28. Aging Changes in Immunity
MedlinePlus delivers the latest news and information on health and medicine. Their Aging Changes in Immunity highlights the various ways in which aging changes and affects the immune system and offers strategies for preventing some of the adverse effects of aging on immune response.
Three key facts from Aging Changes in Immunity:
- As we age, the immune system responds more slowly and increases our risk of getting sick
- The immune system loses some of its ability to detect and correct cell defects as we age, which can result in an increased risk of cancer
- Older people should be sure to eat healthy food, stop smoking, limit their intake of alcohol, get the recommended vaccinations, exercise, and take safety precautions to prevent falls and injuries
29. Aging Lowers Your Immunity
LiveScience delivers science news and covers top stories in health, the environment, animals, technology, and space. In his LiveScience article on the effects of aging on your immune system, Fred Cicetti explains that there is good and bad news about our immune function as we age.
Three key facts from Aging Lowers Your Immunity:
- Over time, the immune system develops defenses against antigens because we acquire antibodies to defend against germs we have defeated in the past; thus, adults get fewer colds than children
- The number of T cells we have does not decrease with age, but their function decreases, causing parts of the immune system to weaken
- Macrophages slow down and cannot ingest antigens as well as they do in younger people, which may be a reason more older people get cancer
30. Study Shows How Aging Impairs Immune Response
Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University is known for biomedical research, medical education, and clinical advances. Study Shows How Aging Impairs Immune Response, an article in their Aging and Immunology series, reports on researchers who discovered one way in which aging compromises the immune system’s ability to fight infection and respond to vaccines. The study reveals that administering antioxidants may help reverse the loss of immune function.
Three key facts from Study Shows How Aging Impairs Immune Response:
- Aging can worsen the body’s immune response in several ways
- As we age, our cells increase the production of free radicals and our cells decrease the production of antioxidant enzymes, which results in a buildup of damaged proteins and other molecules that can be toxic to cells
- The implication of the study is that older adults may benefit from a cycle of therapy with antioxidants before receiving a vaccine so that their immune response improves
31. Immune System May Not Weaken with Age: Study
MedicineNet provides easy-to-read, in-depth medical and health information for consumers that is produced by U.S. board-certified physicians. Their article, Immune System May Not Weaken with Age: Study, points to one researcher’s findings that older adults have the same number of T cells as younger people. The study looks at the quantity of cells, rather than the quality of cells, to make its determination that the immune systems of older people may not be weaker.
Three key facts from Immune System May Not Weaken with Age: Study:
- Older people’s immune systems continue to fight viruses and infections
- The elderly do not lack T cells
- As we age, our immune systems respond to new viruses and protect us against viruses we have been exposed to in the past
32. Elderly People Succumb to Viruses ‘Because Their Immune Systems Work Too Hard’
The Telegraph is a widely-read UK newspaper that shares the latest news, business, sports, and more. In Elderly People Succumb to Viruses ‘Because Their Immune Systems Work Too Hard,’ medical contributor Kate Devlin explains the results from a study that found older people may be more susceptible to viruses because their immune systems work overtime.
Three key facts from Elderly People Succumb to Viruses ‘Because Their Immune Systems Work Too Hard’:
- The immune systems of older adults overreact when they come into contact with an infection
- The over-aggressive reactions of older people’s immune systems inflame and damage their cells
- The study raises questions about whether the immune system declines as we age or whether older people are more likely to get infections and viruses because their immune response is exaggerated
33. Is Your Immune System Old Before Its Time? Here’s How You Can Stop It Ageing
The Daily Mail shares news from every front, and Nic Fleming’s article, Is Your Immune System Old Before Its Time? Here’s How You Can Stop It Ageing, explores scientists’ findings that our immune systems age as we do and become less effective at helping us ward off colds, viruses, and infections. But, scientists also have found that some people’s immune systems decline more rapidly than others.
Three key facts from Is Your Immune System Old Before Its Time? Here’s How You Can Stop It Ageing:
- As our immune system ages, it can lose its memory and forget the pathogens it has encountered in the past, making us susceptible to infections, colds, and viruses that we already have had
- By age 65, you do not have the broad range of cells needed to fight new infections, and the cells you do have are weary
- Neutrophils in the elderly are half as effective at killing bacteria as those of younger adults
34. Our Aging Immune Systems are Still in Business, But Increasingly Thrown Out of Balance
Stanford University School of Medicine integrates research, education, patient care, and community service. Bruce Goldman’s Scope blog post, Our Aging Immune Systems are Still in Business, But Increasingly Thrown Out of Balance, explores the ways in which we become more vulnerable to infection, autoimmune disease, and cancer as we age.
Three key facts from Our Aging Immune Systems are Still in Business, But Increasingly Thrown Out of Balance:
- Starting at age 40, our immune response declines “slowly but surely”
- We do not lose T cells as we age, but some subgroups of T cells take over and other subgroups become incredibly scarce
- Scientists need to continue working to determine why there is an imbalance of T cells as we age
35. Study Ties Recently Discovered Immune Cell to Disease
A study led by Stanford’s Dr. Cornelia Weyand, Dr. Zhenke Wen, and Dr. Yasuhiro Shimojima found that as we age, certain regulatory immune cells (regulatory T cells, or Tregs) decline in number and are less effective at combatting inflammation. The study offers insight into new approaches to restoring function in these immune cells.
Three key facts from Study Ties Recently Discovered Immune Cell to Disease:
- As people age, their immune responses become hyperactive and unfocused, making it less capable of warding off cancers and infections, and much more inflammatory
- CD8 Treg deficits may be responsible for coronary artery disease and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases
- CD8 Tregs are only about half as common in people ages 60 or older as in people in their 20s and 30s
36. To Immunity and Beyond: Recruiting the Heroic Hormone that Rescues Aging Immune Systems
The oldest college science publication in the United States, Yale Scientific features Malini Gandhi’s article on the effects of aging on your immune system. To Immunity and Beyond: Recruiting the Heroic Hormone that Rescues Aging Immune Systems examines why and how our immune systems falter as we age and shares a study led by Vishwa Deep Dixit, professor of immunobiology and comparative medicine at the Yale School of Medicine. The study uncovered a hormone that may halt the breakdown of the thymus.
Three key facts from To Immunity and Beyond: Recruiting the Heroic Hormone that Rescues Aging Immune Systems:
- The failure of the thymus is one of the main causes our immune response deteriorates as we age
- The hormone that may help curb thymic breakdown is known as Fibroblast Growth Factor 21 (FGF21), and it may stimulate the thymus and prevent the immune system from declining as we get older
- By the time we reach age 45, the thymus is over 70% fat and struggles to make new T cells to aid in immune response
37. Age is Just a Number: Keep Your Immune System Strong as You Grow Older
Dr. Tony Jimenez is the founder and medical director of the Hope4Cancer Institute. Dr. Jimenez specializes in integrative and non-toxic therapies for cancer treatment. In his article, Age is Just a Number: Keep Your Immune System Strong as You Grow Older, Dr. Jimenez shines a light on the causes of the decline of our immune system.
Three key facts from Age is Just a Number: Keep Your Immune System Strong as You Grow Older:
- Researchers are studying whether bone marrow becomes less efficient at producing stem cells, which eventually become immune cells, as we age
- Factors other than age, including stress, exposure to radiation, chemicals, and diseases, contribute to a weakened immune system
- Lifestyle changes can prevent the decline in our immune response as we age; these include exercising, limiting the intake of alcohol, quitting smoking, and avoiding falls and injuries
38. Sick and Tired: The Plight of an Aging Immune System
The Jackson Laboratory, an NCI-designated cancer center, shares science news, research, and breakthroughs. Dr. Nicole Davis’ Jackson Laboratory article examines how JAX professor and renowned HIV expert Derya Unutmaz is going about determining how the aging of the immune system contributes to chronic diseases.
Three key facts from Sick and Tired: The Plight of an Aging Immune System:
- People with HIV experience accelerated aging of their immune systems, which causes inflammatory diseases
- In immune systems of people who have chronic conditions, powerful immune cells called effectors cells accumulate over time grow in number and in collective strength; these cells can be dangers and inflict harm
- The immune aging process may contribute to HIV, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s disease
39. Age-Related Metabolic Stress Degrades Our Immune Systems: Preventable with Antioxidants
The Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science seeks to increase scientific awareness by providing an interdisciplinary forum. In her DUJS article, Age-Related Metabolic Stress Degrades Our Immune Systems: Preventable with Antioxidants, Katherine Bradley examines the degradation of the thymus and the possible positive effects of antioxidants on an aging immune system.
Three key facts from Age-Related Metabolic Stress Degrades Our Immune Systems: Preventable with Antioxidants:
- The atrophy of the thymus leads to ineffective immune responses to vaccines and infections
- If we can slow the degradation of the thymus, elderly people’s immune systems would strengthen
- Two dietary antioxidants, including vitamin C, help prevent the breakdown of the thymus; thus, consuming antioxidant-rich food or supplements can persevere the integrity of the thymus and help people maintain their immune systems longer
40. 10 Immune System Boosters for Seniors
A Place for Mom is a senior care resource. In her Senior Living Blog for A Place for Mom, Jennifer Wegerer offers tips for seniors who want to boost their immune systems in an effort to stay healthy. Seniors are especially vulnerable during the cold and flu season because of their compromised immune systems, so it is important to take steps to boost their immunity.
Three key facts from 10 Immune System Boosters for Seniors:
- It is important to get the flu vaccine; while it may only be effective in about 25% of adults, the vaccine can lower your rate of sickness and death
- Diets high in fruits and vegetables and low in sugar and fat are better at boosting the immune system
- Regular exercise boosts immune response and can help seniors ward off infections
41. Cheese Boosts Immune System in Elderly
This LiveScience article shares research that shows daily consumption of probiotic cheese helps boost the immune system of elderly people. The cheese acts as a carrier for good bacteria to the gut, which aids immune function.
Three key facts from Cheese Boosts Immune System in Elderly:
- There are ways to stop the deterioration of the immune system, including increasing the intake of probiotics
- Probiotics enhance both natural and acquired immunity
- Including probiotics in a regular diet may improve an older person’s immune response to pathogens
42. Tips for Seniors to Build Their Immune Systems
United Methodist Homes was established in 1874 to help elders in the community and others in need. In Tips for Seniors to Build Their Immune Systems, Elizabeth Bemis shares some simple tips that seniors can use to build their weakened immune systems and improve their health.
Three key facts from Tips for Seniors to Build Their Immune Systems:
- Leafy greens contain antioxidants that boost the immune system
- Being physically active increases endorphins and circulation, which has positive effects on the immune system
- Eating adequate amounts of nutrients, either through a balanced diet, or via a multivitamin or mineral supplement gives your body the fuel it needs to support the immune system
43. 3 Must Read Tips for Seniors Wanting to Boost Their Immunity
Frontiers, an award-winning community-driven open-access publisher and research network, shares three tips for seniors who want to boost their immune system to remain healthy and help protect against disease and infection. As the article points out, the immune system changes as we age and responds more slowly to invaders.
Three key facts from 3 Must Read Tips for Seniors Wanting to Boost Their Immunity:
- As we age, the immune system loses its ability to detect and correct defects in cells
- If you fall sick more often than you think you should, you may need to boost your immunity, especially if you are over the age of 40
- Malnutrition has negative effects on the immune system and increases your risk of contracting an infection even more when you age
44. Discovery Could Temporarily Boost Immune System in Elderly
Martin Beckford is a health correspondent for The Telegraph. His article on the effects of aging on your immune system, Discovery Could Temporarily Boost Immune System in Elderly, shares the results from a study that found how to revitalize white blood cells that were considered to be deactivated after fighting infections.
Three key facts from Discovery Could Temporarily Boost Immune System in Elderly:
- Inactive white blood cells have long telomeres, which means that something in the immune system switches them off, and they may be reactivated
- Inactive immune cells may not be permanently deactivated, even in older adults
- By reactivating inactive immune cells, scientists could rejuvenate the immune systems of older adults
45. The Drug That Could Give Elderly People the Immune System of a 20-Year-Old and Dramatically Reduce Deaths from Flu
Daily Mail science reporter Ben Spencer reports on a breakthrough British scientists made in treating older people with weakened immune systems in his article, The Drug That Could Give Elderly People the Immune System of a 20-Year-Old and Dramatically Reduce Deaths from Flu. The chemical, known as spermidine, may provide the elderly with a more effective immune system and boost their reactions to vaccines.
Three key facts from The Drug That Could Give Elderly People the Immune System of a 20-Year-Old and Dramatically Reduce Deaths from Flu:
- Older adults do not react as well to vaccines as younger people because of their compromised immune systems
- Spermidine restores the immune system’s memory and enables it to mount a more powerful response after a vaccination
- Spermidine, and other chemicals like it, may be used to boost immune response to a broad variety of viruses in the future
46. Easy Ways to Reset and Boost the Elderly Immune System
Home Care Assistance, North America’s premier provider of in-home care for seniors, shares simple steps seniors can take to reset and boost their immune systems, in light of the fact that age takes a tool on their immune response. Older adults will be better equipped to fight off illness if they make a conscious effort to boost their immune systems.
Three key facts from Easy Ways to Reset and Boost the Elderly Immune System:
- Increasing the number of good bacteria in the gut by eating yogurt with live and active cultures, taking probiotics, and eating bananas will strengthen your microbiome and strengthen your immune system
- Limiting processed and refined foods and choosing fresh, natural, and home-cooked foods will boost immunity
- Getting therapeutic massages and ultrasound therapies from a chiropractor who specializes in senior health can restore spinal alignment and improve your immune system’s functionality
47. Fasting May Improve Immune System Health During Aging Process; Chemotherapy Patients May Also Benefit
Medical Daily shares “the kind of things you talk about at a bar with your friends.” In his Medical Daily article on the effects of aging on your immune system, Chris Weller reports on a study that finds periodic fasting can protect immune system health in healthy middle-aged and elderly people, chemotherapy patients, and others who suffer from declining immune response.
Three key facts from Fasting May Improve Immune System Health During Aging Process; Chemotherapy Patients May Also Benefit:
- White blood cells weaken as we age and put people at risk for infection and disease, and possibly death, as our immune responses decline in efficacy
- Temporary fasting can protect the immune cells, as people who resume eating after a period of fasting have more white blood cells than before they began fasting
- Fasting switches stem cells into a regenerating mode that boosts immunity by reversing immunosuppression due to chemotherapy and rejuvenating immune systems in older individuals
48. Natural Ways to Boost the Immune System of Your Elderly Loved Ones Before Flu Season
SILVERSPHERE is a technology company that enhances the ways in which people and organizations care for seniors. Kaleb Scharmahorn’s XSILVERSPHERE article, Natural Ways to Boost the Immune System of Your Elderly Loved Ones Before Flu Season, reminds us that older adults are at a greater risk of becoming ill during cold and flu season. The culprit is their weakened immune system, but there are steps you can take to help your older loved one remain healthy.
Three key facts from Natural Ways to Boost the Immune System of Your Elderly Loved Ones Before Flu Season:
- Eating healthy and incorporating superfoods such as kale, berries, avocados, and mushrooms boosts immunity and health
- Replacing soda and coffee with water increases fluid consumption and improves overall health
- Supplementing an older person’s diet with vitamins and herbal supplements boost their immune system and helps them ward off colds and the flu more successfully
49. Boosting Gut Bacteria Could Help Stop Elderly From Falling Ill
The University of Reading is in the top 1% of universities worldwide. Their article on the effects of aging on your immune system, Boosting Gut Bacteria Could Help Stop Elderly From Falling Ill, explains that elderly people should consider taking a daily supplement to boost gut bacteria and the immune system to stay healthier.
Three key facts from Boosting Gut Bacteria Could Help Stop Elderly From Falling Ill:
- Probiotics boost the immune systems of older adults to the point that they near the levels of young, healthy adults’ immune systems
- Probiotics do not contain any live bacteria but help the growth of the billions of bacteria that live in the gut
- Probiotics boost bifidobacteria in the intestine, boosting the immune system and resulting in a higher number of cells that fight infections and reduced inflammation
50. Probiotic Supplements Help Elderly People
Medical News Today shares the latest breaking health news. They also share suggestions for boosting immunity in older adults in their article, Probiotic Supplements Help Elderly People. Probiotics help the elderly to remain healthy by adding good bacteria to the gut and aiding immune response.
Three key facts from Probiotic Supplements Help Elderly People:
- People over 60 should get probiotics through probiotic drinks, yogurts, or supplements
- The most effective probiotics contain bifidobacteria or lactobacilli
- A lower amount of good bacteria in the gut leads to gastrointestinal infections and bowel conditions