Your Immune System Is Aging. Here’s How to Rejuvenate It.
Aging brings some rewards. Our acne clears up and we have a small chance of becoming wise. But most of the effects of aging are not so great. Wrinkles, stiff joints and forgetfulness are just a few of the things youngsters have to look forward to. But the worst insult may be the aging of our immune system.
It starts to behave badly as the years go by, with the built-in innate immune system ramping up inappropriately and your adaptive immune system declining in vigor. The thymus gland, located in the chest and the source of T-cells, shrinks to a fraction of its younger glory. The flow of fresh T-cells that have been pumped out for a lifetime is suddenly stifled around age 65. It’s almost as if the body has decided that it has learned enough about life’s novel pathogens.
That’s wrong for two reasons: one is that there are always plenty of new pathogens, including the latest killer coronavirus variants. The second reason is that old immune cells can forget. That is why, years after recovery from chicken pox, you can get shingles caused by the same virus. There’s a name for this: immunesenescence.
Like most of your cells, your immune cells also get old and they may fail to respond properly to both old and new pathogens. Perhaps worse yet, old degenerate immune receptors can get triggered by benign microbes and even self-molecules, leading to autoimmune diseases. Without a proper response to infection, the body can tip into a constant state of inflammation, especially with an improperly amped up innate system. There’s a name for this, too: inflammaging.
This sounds ominous, and it is, but it is possible to slow the process down. Exercise and diet are two powerful levers you have to control an aging immune system. Fiber-filled veggies and fruit are great ways to build a diverse microbiota which can improve immune function. But if you just can’t get enough of these healthy foods in your diet, you might try a mix of prebiotics and microbe friendly polyphenols like Clarity Prebiotic Blend.
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