Preventing Age Related Illness
What if aging didn’t increase your risk of illness?
We all know that with age comes an increased risk of contracting infections. It is why those over the age of 65 are urged to stay at home during flu or viral outbreaks.
It is not opinion, but rather a fact that your thymus gland shrinks with age. The thymus gland produces T cells, immune defense cells, and is so named with a “T” because the thymus produces them.
After puberty this gland begins to shrink and it is estimated that by middle age only 15% of it remains. This shrinkage is called thymic involution. Clearly less gland present means less immune cells products.
As the thymus shrinks, less memory T cells and less natural killer (NK) cells are made. These are critical cells as they “remember” past infections you have had and due to that memory they are swift at defending you from them should you contract them again.
It is the diminished number of T cells that is thought to explain why older individuals have a poorer response to vaccines. The “benefit” of vaccines relies on your immune system remembering how to react when it is exposed to the virus. It is that memory that becomes lost and hence the poor response.
Keep reading; there is good news
If you read my blogs or follow my YouTube channel, you know that I don’t leave you with bad news.
Yes, aging is inevitable. And yes, the thymus does seem to shrink with age, generally speaking.
Here’s the good news: A study published in Aging Self , March 2018, examined cyclists aged 55 to 79 years old.
Despite their advanced age they showed NO loss of thymic tissue. In facts the size of their thymus glands along with their production of immune cells was on par with that of a 20 year old!
The good news continues: they found this benefit occurred even in those individuals who began exercising later in life.
I always love to brag about the human body’s ability to heal and repair itself. And I further like to comment that “it doesn’t hold a grudge” for bast misdeeds. Of course there is a point at which complete repair is not feasible, but generally speaking the body is truly remarkable in its ability to repair and regenerate.
This study proved it.
The exercise level required was moderate; you do not need to engage in intense activity to achieve these results.
Earlier study confirms benefits of exercise on immunity
Aging Research Review published a study in July 2012 that confirmed the exercise enhanced response to vaccines, increased T cell proliferation (cells produced by the thymus gland), decreasedinflammation and generally delayed the typical immunosenescence or the faulty immune response seen in an aging adults.
What other lifestyle habits boost immunity?
We have spoken about other ways to boost immunity. Feel free to browse this blog for a more in-depth analysis, but as a reminder, the more you do of the following the more robust your immune system will be.
- Healthy diet
- Decreased stress load
- Good sleep
- Normal weight
- No smoking
- Active lifestyle
Does your immune system need strengthening?
We have the tools to discover why you’re having trouble. It’s not difficult as long as you’re ready to make some dietary and lifestyle changes. If that sounds daunting, don’t worry. We will hold your hand through the changes and make each step of change an easy one.
Contact us for a Free Consultation – Call (408) 733-0400.
If you are not local to us you can still receive help. It is the reason we created our Destination Clinic that treats patients from across the country and internationally through tele-medicine.
We help the world’s busiest people regain, retain and reclaim their health, energy and resilience.
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To reclaiming your best health,
Dr. Vikki Petersen DC, CCN
Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner
Founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic
Author of “The Gluten Effect”
Author of the e-Books:
- “Gluten: What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You”
- “5 Simple Ways to Regain Your Health”
- “Hiatal Hernia, Many Symptoms, One Cause”