Boosting Immunity through Diet

Boosting Immunity through Diet
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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.

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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.

Recently, researchers in 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, so 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 two or fewer servings of fruits and vegetables a day diet, versus the experimental group that were told to consume at least five. They did this for a month, before they were due for their pneumonia vaccine. The experimental group didn’t quite hit five daily servings, but at least they did better than the control group.

Here’s what happened when they were given pneumovax. Here’s the immune response in the control group. They were injected with pneumonia bacteria vaccine. Their immune systems should have gone crazy making antibodies to fight off the perceived invader, and they tried their best. But this is the group that was on almost five servings of fruits and veggies every day for the prior four weeks.

Influenza and pneumonia constitute the seventh 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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

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.

Recently, researchers in 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, so 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 two or fewer servings of fruits and vegetables a day diet, versus the experimental group that were told to consume at least five. They did this for a month, before they were due for their pneumonia vaccine. The experimental group didn’t quite hit five daily servings, but at least they did better than the control group.

Here’s what happened when they were given pneumovax. Here’s the immune response in the control group. They were injected with pneumonia bacteria vaccine. Their immune systems should have gone crazy making antibodies to fight off the perceived invader, and they tried their best. But this is the group that was on almost five servings of fruits and veggies every day for the prior four weeks.

Influenza and pneumonia constitute the seventh 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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Nota del Doctor

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.

And be sure to check out my blog posts for additional context: Mushrooms and Immunity, and Probiotics During Cold Season?

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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