Elderly or old people are immunocompromised, which makes them more vulnerable to the risk of viral or bacterial infections or diseases. The reasons for compromised immunity can be a reduction in the proper functioning of the immune system, mainly as a result of changes in cell-mediated immunity. Other factors can be if they have undergone organ transplantation or have a disorder or a disease.
Apart from taking precautions as per WHO guidelines, maintaining an active lifestyle, exercising and eating a balanced diet which includes foods with immunity-boosting properties.
Nutrition has a strong influence on the immune system. No single food can provide all the nutrients, so the aim should be to add variety to get versatile nutrients and micronutrients play an important role in enhancing immunity.
Have warm water and add 1/4 tsp cinnamon to it.
Have warm water and add 1/2 tsp lemon juice
Overnight soaked nuts-almonds, walnuts, few raisins
(nuts help provide with minerals like Zinc, Se, B vitamins B6)
Oats or besan chilla stuffed with vegetables along with curd
Vegetable poha with peanuts added, along with buttermilk. Squeeze some lemon juice over poha to add a punch of vitamin C and induce absorption of iron.
Milk and dalia with chopped nuts
Spinach oats-fuji idlis with coconut chutney and bowl of sambar
(Including curd or buttermilk helps provide probiotics which are good for digestive health and indirectly help increase immunity)
Nimbu pani / buttermilk with some cumin powder and mint leaves
Watermelon / a mango / any seasonal fruit
(Fruits offer vitamin C, antioxidants and other phytonutrients which help fight infections)
Enjoy your herbal tea along with foxnuts/fistful of dry fruits
(Add ginger, cinnamon powder to your tea)
Lunch / Dinner
Dal + rice / chapati + salad + curd
(Add some ghee to your dal or chapati)
No over the table salt or sugar to be added.
Ragi dosa with sambar + peanut/coconut chutney
Vegetables added to Khichadi (add a tsp of ghee)
A glass of milk with a pinch of haldi
(Turmeric has curcumin which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidants)
Supplements to be considered after doctor’s advice
- Vitamin C, Vitamin E , vitamin D
- Omega 3 fatty acids eg. fish oil supplements
To conclude, ageing induces dysregulation of the immune system, so elderly people need to maintain their diet and may also include supplements like vitamin C, E, D or omega 3 fatty acids.
Lesourd B. M. (1997). Nutrition and immunity in the elderly: modification of immune responses with nutritional treatments. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 66(2), 478S–484S. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/66.2.478S