SHOULD WE COVER UP WHEN IT IS COLD OUTSIDE?
The answer is yes, if we feel uncomfortable or if exposure to the cold is for a long period of time resulting in the risk of hypothermia. However, we do not need to worry about our immune system. (6)
IS EXERCISE GOOD OR BAD FOR OUR IMMUNE SYSTEM?
Physical exercise carried out on a regular basis improves cardiovascular health, brings down blood pressure, reduces weight and protects against a series of diseases, but does it really keep our immune system healthy?
Exercise can contribute towards a healthy lifestyle and consequently, towards a healthy immune system. Furthermore, it may have a more direct impact by improving one’s circulation, which allows the cells and other substances of the immune system to spread through the body, improving their efficiency.
Even though a direct beneficial relation between the two elements has not yet been established, it is reasonable to believe that exercising moderately on a regular basis is another facet of a healthy lifestyle, and a potentially important way of keeping the immune system healthy, as well as the rest of the body. (6)
AGE AND THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
To a certain extent, ageing leads to a reduced immune capacity, which in turn contributes towards more infections and more inflammatory diseases.
The elderly have a higher risk of contracting infectious diseases. Respiratory diseases, flu and in particular pneumonia are the main causes of death in people over the age of 65 all over the world. No one knows why this happens, but some specialists have observed that this increased risk is correlated to a decrease in T cells, possibly due to thymus atrophy linked to ageing. The bone marrow also becomes less efficient at producing stem cells, which in turn originate the cells in the immune system.
Other researchers have studied the relationship between nutrition and the immune system in the elderly. A form of malnutrition that is surprisingly very common, even in developed countries, is known as “micronutrient malnutrition”. In these cases, a person has a deficit in a number of vitamins and essential microelements that are obtained through one’s diet. The elderly tend to eat less, which leads to this deficit in vitamins and microelements. A good question is to know whether supplements may help the elderly keep a healthy immune system. (6)
6 - adapted from Harvard Health Publications/Harvard Medical School