Long Life and Health
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How and Why to Keep Your Immune System Young

Your body’s immune system is what helps keep you alive. Many things could end your life rather quickly, but your immune system constantly fights them all the time. It is an ongoing battle. 


Aging Means a Less Effective Immune System


As you age, your immune system changes and becomes less able to identify harmful bacteria and other antigens. It may also become unable to tell what is part of you and not part of you, and when that happens, an autoimmune disease begins. 


Your immune system reacts slower with age and may even fail to recognize some harmful antigens anymore. You have fewer white blood cells and T-cells – your body’s primary defenses against invaders and infections. Cytokines – a protein that shows immune cells where to go and what to do, also become less effective. 


You Become More Susceptible to Disease


The result is that your body slowly loses its ability to defend itself against invaders, and you become much more susceptible to many diseases and infections. Vaccines also become less efficient as you get older because of a weaker natural immune system. 


The thymus normally begins to shrink and weaken when you are about 20 years old and continues to shrink until you are about 60. The tissue of the thymus is slowly replaced with fat, resulting in a less effective immune system. 


The Good News About An Aging Immune System


A recent experiment revealed that your immune system can remain strong when you do certain things. In the UK experiment, they tested the immune systems of some seniors between 55 and 79. The men in the experiment had to be able to ride a bike for 62 miles in under 6.5 hours, and the women had to ride 37 miles in under 5.5 hours. 


The results were compared with other healthy seniors of the same age and with much younger people. The notable finding was that the thymus in the seniors was comparable in health to the young people. The thymus is responsible for producing and training T-cells, a critical part of your immune system.


How to Boost Your Immune System


Even though your thymus becomes less able to fight against various health problems as you age, there are ways that you can strengthen your immune system. If you already have a weak immune system, you need to strengthen it as soon as possible. 


The above experiment reveals that regular exercise is probably one of the most important ways to boost your immune system. Consistent walking for about 30 minutes at a time at a fast pace, five times a week, can considerably reduce your risk of dying from cancer. It will also help to slow the development of Alzheimer’s disease. A lack of physical activity is partly responsible for a decline in the ability of the thymus to function properly. 


Some lifestyle factors, such as smoking and drinking excessively, weaken your immune system. These habits can age your immune system faster and make it even less effective than normal at your age, which will likely decrease your longevity. 


Some vitamins can also slow down the aging process of your immune system and make it behave like its younger self. These vitamins can come from your food if you eat a healthy diet. Some people may need to supplement them to get enough A, C, D, and E vitamins, but avoid overdosing. Adding some antioxidants will also help strengthen your immune system and reduce inflammation. 

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