Inadequate fruit and vegetable intake may help explain the loss of immune function associated with aging that is linked to an increased risk of dying from pneumonia and influenza.
As we age our immune system starts to decline. That’s why when you hear infectious disease advisories they often list those at greatest risk include infants, the immunocompromised, and the elderly, because the elderly are, to some extent, immunocompromised.
Last year reserachers at Belfast reported an investigation into the “possibility that inadequate diet may be a contributing factor” to “immunological aging.” Both immunity and fruit and vegetable intake can be low in the elderly; they wondered if there might be a connection.
So they rounded up 83 volunteers between 65 and 95 years of age and randomized them into the control group, following their pitiful 2 or fewer servings of fruits and veggies a day diet versus the experimental group that we told to consume at least 5. They did this a month before they were due for their pneumonia vaccine, The experimental group didn’t quite hit five daily servings, but they did better than the control group.
Here’s what happened when they were given pneumovax. Here’s the control group. They were injected with pneumonia bacteria vaccine. Their immune systems should have gone crazy making antibodies to fight off the pervceived invader, and they tried their best. But this is the group that was on almost 5 servings of fruits and veggies every day for the prior four weeks.
Influenza and pneumonia constitute the 7th leading cause of death for our elderly. It’s never too late to start eating healthier.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Serena
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Which fruits and vegetables may be best? See Best Berries and Biggest Nutrition Bang for Your Buck. Other videos on immune function include Kale and the Immune System and Preventing Childhood Allergies. Also check out Preventing COPD With Diet and Treating COPD With Diet on preserving respiratory function, as well as the gazillion (ok, more like a thousand) other topics I cover.