The Frontiers in Immunology journal recently published an article about aging and our immune system. Given our normal lifestyles, we should expect our immune systems to become less and less effective as we grow older.
The primary reason stated was low-level chronic inflammation. Scientists know that low-level chronic inflammation is the genesis of nearly every disease. Free radical damage at the cellular level incrementally increases year after year. Over time, DNA mutations occur, and the disease process starts.
Free radicals can be countered by antioxidants. Our diet provides us with the necessary antioxidants to counter free radical damage. Most people do not eat a nutritionally balanced diet and are deficient in many vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
I order a c-reactive protein (CRP) blood test with every annual physical. I have for years. CRP develops when inflammation levels rise. A cancer cell (or other diseases) can develop over many years, even decades before it is large enough to detect.
However, most of the time we have no indication that a cancer cell has grown to be a tumor. If we knew something was growing, we could take an earlier look and begin a process to address the tumor when it was small. That is not the way our medical system works. We wait for symptoms before acting.
I know several people who were told that they had a tumor the size of an orange and that they had less than a year to live without surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. I am sure there are many of my readers who know similar stories. The CRP test is not a normal test given during an annual physical! I do not know why!
Most of the time my CRP levels are nearly unmeasurable. A CRP reading of aero to three is considered normal. Mild and viral infections may cause your CRP to increase above 10 and below 50. I consider anything above 10 to be cause for you to talk to your doctor and determine what is causing your CRP to rise above normal limits.
Inflammation affects the immune system. It becomes less effective at performing its function to protect you. An imbalance occurs within the immune system that increases the risk of future disease.
The immune system has two processes used to provide protection against bacterial, viral, and fungal infections – innate and adaptive. Innate protection is the first line of defense to prevent the continued movement of foreign pathogens into your body.
The adaptive immune process destroys the attacking pathogens. It remembers what the chemical composition (molecular structure) of each pathogen so that future attacks can occur quicker against that specific molecule.
There are many changes with aging. We do have a lot of control over those changes, but most of us do not know what to do. In this pandemic world of COVID-19, we hear some experts tell us to enhance our immune system. However, it sounds cliché to exercise more, eat better, get quality sleep, etc.
Our immune system is tied to our future health. If you have no idea that inflammation is continuing to increase in your body, you have no ability to counter it. Over time you could develop cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other age-related diseases.
A weakened adaptive immune process means that any influenza shots or vaccines will not be as effective in our bodies. If you are over 60 and get a COVID-19 vaccine or an influenza shot, your body will not be as protected compared to a person in their 30s.
What can you do now? Consider a serious review of your dietary choices. Are you getting over 30 nutrients the body needs daily with the foods you eat? If not, then a change might be in order.
Each free radical causes a different result at the cellular level depending on where it occurs. Not all antioxidants are created equally. You must have a variety of antioxidants to address all the types of damage that can occur. And, you must have them daily.
Exercise is not just for the youth. The Chinese say, “Ren lao, Xian lao tui. 人老先老腿” which translates to “When you age, your legs go first.” You must exercise to keep your immune system ‘enhanced’ as much as you need to eat the right foods. Stress management, quality sleep, and a few other things are also required.
If you are not getting an annual physical, you might be in for a rude awakening one of these days. It is better to be proactive and work on prevention than to wait for surgery and other options to correct problems that surface in the future.
Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com