In the past, it was believed that our immune systems deteriorated as we aged and our cells suffered from chronic inflammation due to a build-up of free radicals.
The current thinking, however, is that immune response is actually an adaptive process and that our bodies work to help us live longer, rather than “attack” themselves as we age as was previously believed.
Because of this, lifestyle changes can have a huge impact on our immune systems and the way we look and feel.
Theoretically, if we take good care of our immune systems, we can “turn back the clock”. But what’s the science behind this thinking, and what changes can we make to our everyday lives to hold onto our youthful looks? We’ve put together a guide…
The science behind ageing and immune systems
Let’s start with a preface: ageing is a highly complex process and there are many variables to consider when assessing somebody’s overall health and physical appearance.
Everything from genetics to lifestyle to environment to “bad luck” can result in ill-health and fine lines.
Our immune systems interact with many other systems in our bodies, orchestrating our health when it’s functioning properly, and causing diseases and damage to our cells (which can result in illness and physical signs of ageing) when it’s not.
Research from Frontiers in Immunology has suggested that immunosenescence and inflammaging work as ‘friends and foes’ as our bodies begin to age, with the increased production of inflammation decreasing our immune response.
On the other hand, that decreased response reinforces our body’s stimulation of the innate immune response, leading to inflammaging, which breeds physical symptoms of ageing, like disease, wrinkles, and increased susceptibility to infection.
Adapting your lifestyle to improve immune response
The truth is that there’s no miracle cure for improving your immune system, but making simple lifestyle changes could have a big impact and increase your body’s ability to adapt.
- Sleep: Struggle to sleep? Your immune system will suffer. Experts recommend getting between six to eight hours of sleep per night, so speak to a doctor if you’re an insomniac and cut out things like caffeine and blue light from your smartphone before you hit the hay.
- Eat well: Though there’s no “immune system” diet, we do know for certain that foods rich in vitamins and minerals (fresh vegetables and fruit) will keep your immune system performing at its best. If you’re overweight, this will put additional stress on your body, so try to drop a few pounds to improve your overall health and immunity. In turn, you’ll look and feel younger.
- Don’t stress: Stress can weaken our immune systems over time and can lead to other issues such as eating the wrong food and struggling to sleep. Practice meditation, find time to relax outside of work, and identify common stress triggers, finding ways to avoid them.
- Stay active: As we age, it’s easy to let our exercise regimes slip. Moderate and regular exercises can keep us fit and strengthen our immune systems. Staying active also helps cells move freely around the body, ensuring they do their job properly and keep us healthy.
- Use Oralift: The Oralift anti-ageing device should become part of your lifestyle change, too. It will allow you to access your body’s natural “adaptability” to change the appearance and shape of your face; without surgery. By wearing a small mouthguard device for short periods of time over several months, you can reverse some of the visible signs of ageing on the face, reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, crow’s feet, and other common concerns. There may also be a number of health benefits, as there are with exercise.
- Quit smoking: We all know that smoking is bad for us, but did you know it can weaken your body’s immune response? Smokers are significantly more susceptible to illnesses and infections, so try to break the habit. Seek professional quitting support where available.
- Vaccinate: Though vaccinations aren’t as effective when you’re older, they can still help you to reduce the risks of serious illnesses like pneumonia and flu. Make sure you’re up-to-date and add a reminder to your diary every six months.
As the coronavirus pandemic has taught us, looking after our immune systems is critical. By making the lifestyle changes we have suggested and treating your body with the love and respect it deserves, you can enjoy a long and healthy life – and look all the better for it.