Senior Health Spotlight: 7 Superfoods to Boost Your Immune System

senior nutrition

We’re in the peak of cold and flu season, and with the ongoing pandemic, there are innumerable reasons to keep your immune system in peak form. As we age, our immune systems naturally show down, and integrating “superfoods” into your diet is a great way to proactively work toward revving it back up. Read about some foundational, immunity-supporting superfoods you can find in your local grocery store, and how they can fit into a healthy lifestyle. 

Why Immune System Maintenance is Important 

Your immune system is incredibly complex[1]. It protects you from foreign invaders, including viruses, fungi, bacteria, and parasites, that can cause disease, illness, and infection. Though taking care of your immune system is important all year round, it becomes particularly important during cold and flu season. A global, viral pandemic puts extra pressure on proper immune system maintenance. 

You’ll maintain a stronger immune system by proactively eating a consistently healthy diet – rather than trying to remedy the issue after you start sneezing and coughing. Your immune system functions best when you take good care of your overall health. One of the most important components of that routine is eating a healthy diet. 

7 Superfoods to Try

Start taking care of your immune system by integrating some superfoods into your diet. Superfoods are foods that support different bodily processes. Some superfoods help your body fight off upper-respiratory infections, while others ensure the microbiome in your gut is robust and diverse. 

There are no superfoods that automatically prevent the common cold, flu, or COVID-19. That being said, a well-rounded diet packed with nutritious foods helps your body defend against foreign invaders[2]. Maintaining your immune system is critically important as you age since your immune response decreases as you get older.

You might feel nervous to make a dietary shift, especially if finding and eating superfoods sounds like a challenge. This list of superfoods you can find in your local grocery store is a wonderful reference guide. Let’s get started!

1. Salmon

Fatty fish, like salmon and tuna, are chock-full of beneficial vitamins and minerals[3]. Omega-3 fatty acids in particular can help improve immune function. These essential fatty acids can also reduce inflammation. Salmon is also a great source of Vitamin D, which helps reduce risk of upper respiratory infections. 

How To Prepare: You can sauté, bake, or boil salmon. This honey garlic glazed salmon recipe is a quick and easy dinner that you’ll want to make once a week. Buy smoked salmon and serve it on a bagel at your next brunch with cream cheese and capers. No matter how you prepare this delicious fish, you’ll reap its immunity-boosting benefits. 

2. Yogurt

In order to boost your immune system, you should focus on your digestive tract, too[4]. The digestive tract needs a wide range of healthy bacteria to maintain the gut microbiome. Probiotics help promote a healthy gut microbiome, and yogurt is a great source of probiotics. Some research indicates an association between probiotics and preventing the common cold.

How To Prepare: Try to look for yogurt with no added sugars. Plain Greek yogurt is a great, low-sugar option. One way to eat yogurt is topping it with fruit and granola. If you’re not excited about the prospect of eating yogurt straight out of the bowl, there are several other ways you can work yogurt into your diet. You can add it to smoothies or oatmeal. You can even use plain Greek yogurt like sour cream, adding it to omelets, scrambles, tacos, and chili. 

3. Blueberries

Though blueberries may be small, they are mighty! These tiny berries are immune-boosting powerhouses[5]. Blueberries have flavonoids, which are antioxidants that can prevent cell damage and improve immune function. It’s possible that these flavonoids reduce risk of upper respiratory tract infections as a result of their antiviral properties. Blueberries also contain vitamin A, vitamin C, dietary fiber, manganese, and potassium.

How To Prepare: When you buy blueberries from a grocery store or farmer’s market, make sure to wash them thoroughly before eating. Besides eating them by the handful, you can add blueberries to smoothies or sprinkle them over oatmeal or yogurt bowls. A fresh-tasting blueberry cucumber salad hits the spot in the summertime if you want something more savory. Pop blueberries in the freezer for a satisfyingly sweet frozen snack.

4. Mushrooms

Mushrooms might not be everyone’s favorite, but you’ll want to add them to your favorite dishes once you hear about all the health benefits they offer. Mushrooms have a soluble fiber, beta-glucan, that helps the immune system protect the body from fungal and bacterial infections.

How To Prepare: You can sauté, grill, roast, and steam mushrooms for the perfect side dish to any meaty main. You can even blend finely chopped mushrooms with meat and add the mixture to burgers, casseroles, tacos, and other meat-based dishes. Veggie lovers might be interested in a portobello burger at the next barbecue. Try out something new by making mushroom chips to accompany your favorite dip. 

5. Kiwi

A single kiwi provides 71% of the recommended Vitamin C daily intake. Vitamin C plays a critical role in fighting off various pathogens. This vital nutrient reduces infection and disease by helping augment white blood cell production. Kiwi is also a source of carotenoids, vitamin E, polyphenols, and folate. Though kiwi is not directly associated with a reduced risk of upper respiratory tract infections, it can help with head congestion.

How To Prepare: Kiwi might not be part of your regular fruit repertoire, but you can easily add it to your favorite fruity dishes. You can cut kiwi in half and eat it with a spoon straight from the peel. Throw it in a smoothie to create a tropical flavor profile. Make a sweet and spicy kiwi and jalapeno salsa for taco night. You can even try your hand at making a kiwi jam by blending together kiwis, apples, lemon juice, pineapple juice, and a dash of sugar.

6. Garlic

The good bacteria in the gut metabolize prebiotics in order to maintain a healthy gut flora. Prebiotics help facilitate probiotic function. Fibrous foods, including garlic, are usually a good source of prebiotics. Garlic also performs some immune-boosting functions. Allicin, a bioactive component of garlic, promotes the growth of natural killer cells and immune T cells. Aged garlic extract supplements lessen cold and flu symptoms. 

How To Prepare: Make a quick salad dressing by pressing garlic cloves and mixing them with a dash of salt and extra virgin olive oil. You can mix garlic into sauces, dips, and any savory dish for an added rich flavor. Once you learn how to make this easy, delicious garlic confit, you’ll want to make it as often as possible. 

7. Beans and Lentils

Fiber-rich beans and lentils are associated with a longer life span, especially in places where people primarily eat the Mediterranean diet. Beans and lentils contain zinc, which increases white blood cell production and defends the body from foreign invaders. Zinc also plays a role in reducing the length and severity of cold and flu symptoms. 

How To Prepare: Add beans or lentils to tacos, pastas, and other savory main courses. You can also stuff pitas with yummy baked falafel. Blend chickpeas into homemade hummus and add in your favorite flavors, like olives or garlic. Make a hearty bean or lentil soup for cold winter nights.  

Emergency Medical Alerts: The Perfect Addition to Any Healthy Lifestyle

As you start shifting towards an immune-boosting diet, you might start to consider other ways that you can prioritize your health. Taking care of your body doesn’t stop with eating healthy foods. Wearing a personal alarm button is one easy addition to your healthy lifestyle. Medical alerts are perfect for seniors who like to remain conscious of their health. 

Falls can not only impact seniors’ physical wellbeing, but also limit their ability to be independent. In this way, falls take a physical and mental toll. Once someone has fallen, the fear of falling again often prevents them from living their fullest life. That fear-based restriction can increase stress and reduce quality of life. Medical alert devices for seniors help alleviate fall-related stress. 

At the press of a button, you can connect with a highly trained and certified agent at one of Alert1’s 24/7 Command Centers. This agent will stay on the line with you until help arrives. You will receive full support as you receive a rapid response to your fall or any other emergency situation.

You’ll choose contacts to put in your Circle of Care as you set up your emergency button alarm. The same agent who will call emergency services for you and support you until they arrive will also contact everyone in your Circle of Care

Choosing Your Alert1 Personal Emergency Alarm

Luckily, the superfoods you just read about should be easy to find in your local grocery store. You can create the foundations of a healthy diet with relative ease. Alert1 offers seniors life-saving alert systems and 24/7 protection and security with affordable payment options. As an added bonus, you’ll never be charged for multiple button pushes or “false alarms.”

Seniors decide which medical alert system, or button alarm, best fits their lifestyles. In-Home or On-the-Go options allow coverage wherever it’s needed.

Here’s to your health and well-being!

 

 

 

 

 



[1] Krans, Brian. 2017, Feb. 8. Fun Facts About the Immune System. Healthline.com. Fun Facts About the Immune System.

[2] Pronschinske, Jamie. 2021, Jun. 24. Support your immune function with good nutrition. The Mayo Clinic. Support your immune function with good nutrition.

[3] Lewin, Jo. 2021, Feb. 9. Top 5 health benefits of salmon. BBC Good Food. Top 5 health benefits of salmon.

[4] Cohen, Sandy. 2021, Mar. 19. If you want to boost immunity, look to the gut. UCLA Health. If you want to boost immunity, look to the gut.

[5] Bierend, Doug. 2019, Apr. 23. How Blueberries Became a Superfood. Outside Magazine. How Blueberries Became a Superfood.