By : Apeksha Thakkar Clinical Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator and Nutrigenomic Counselor
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Boosting Immunity among the Elderly

 

COVID 19 has undoubtedly taken a toll on everyone’s health, especially the elderly (above 60 years) since they are more prone to being affected by it. In addition, the reason is that their immunity is not strong enough to combat the disease.

A healthy immune system is vital for protecting against pathogenic organisms, like bacteria, viruses and keeping the body safe from infection and illness. However, the efficient functioning of the immune system declines with age – a process known as immunosenescence. This is why older adults are more at  risk of severe complications from the coronavirus outbreak , according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

 (https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/9287121)

The importance of nutrition for Elderly

A healthy diet is key to a strong immunity. As you age, there is a change in the eating habits and nutritional needs of the person. In addition, the negative implication of changing nutritional needs is the occurrence of malnutrition among elders. This happens as:

Metabolism rate reduces and appetite slows down with age.

Caloric intake decreases which leads to lesser intake of nutrients

Low absorption of nutrients

Malnutrition is associated with a decrease in immunity, which leads to an increased susceptibility of infectious diseases in older adults.

(https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/136.5.1141)

 

Important Nutrients to Boost Immunity in Elderly

A number of nutrients have an eminent role to play in supporting immune health, influencing better immune response

 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3320807/) 

Protein is needed for the building of antibodies and immune system cells. Sources include eggs, fish, pulses, beans, nuts and seeds. In addition for balanced diet, elderly population can supplement with GRD Superior Protein powder and diskettes to facilitate optimum nutrients and ensuring health and immunity. Especially if elders are looking for protein supplements they should consider consuming GRD Sugarfree Protein powder which offers 30% whey protein, 26 esssential nutrients and have no added sugar.

Vitamin A fights infection,strengthens the immune system by keeping skin and tissues healthy.Get this vitamin from foods such as sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, spinach, red bell peppers, eggs.

Vitamin D promotes the formation of new cells in old age and regulates their function. Exposure to sunlight apart from fortified foods; eggs are some of the rich sources.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxident that protects immune cells from damage. Sources include citrus fruits, red peppers, berries and other fruits and vegetables.

Zinc helps in the synthesis of new immune cells and promotes wound healing .Dietary zinc supplementation has been shown to enhance immune response in elderly. Sources include nuts and seeds, whole grains and lentils. (http://ifrj.upm.edu.my/23%20(02)%202016/(3).pdf)

Probiotics like yoghurt promotes healthy immunity by promoting good bacteria in the gut, thus preventing infections. Studies have demonstrated that supplementation with dietary probiotic improves natural killer cell activity  which  improves the immune system in elderly (https://www.gutmicrobiotaforhealth.com/the-role-of-probiotics-in-ageing-and-longevity/)

Takeaway

A nutrient dense diet is a simple way to consume optimal levels of immune supporting micronutrients in elderly.

Add Rainbow colored fruits and veggies – these contain lots of antioxidants.

Add Rainbow colored fruits and veggies – these contain lots of antioxidants.

Lean proteins such as low fat milk, curd, beans, egg whites should be consumed.

Avoid simple sugars, processed foods -they further suppress immune system.

Always include spices and herbs  such as turmeric, black pepper, cumin,ginger and garlic in food.

Along with fluids,have water based fruits such as melons,peaches, plums,cucumbers and others.

 

Ageing is inevitable and so are the changes in our physiology.So, the best way to strengthen the immune system is  to combine  a healthy diet with a healthy lifestyle.                                                       

Immunity Boosting Recipes

Whole-Wheat Pancakes (Serving 6 pancakes)

An excellent source of fiber ,vitamins and minerals ,these fluffy pancakes are everybody’s favorite!

Ingredients

 

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ tsp teaspoon salt (optional)

5 cup milk or buttermilk

½ tsp cinnamon powder

1 tablespoon butter, unsalted, melted

2 bananas, mashed (or any other fruit )

Honey (optional)

Oil or butter for cooking

 

Method

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.

Make a hole in the middle of the mixture and add the liquid ingredients. Whisk together and avoid lumps.

Fold in the mashed bananas into the batter.Set aside.

Heat a non stick pan and grease it.Add pancake batter using a soup ladle.Do not spread.

When the pancakes begins to turn golden brown on the bottom, flip them over and cook the other side.

Serve with fresh fruits e.g. strawberries or banana slices or chopped nuts.

Nutritional Value per pancake (38 gms)

Energy-  86 kcal

Carbohydrates -30 gms

Protein - 4 gms

Fat - 3.6 gms

Fiber- 3 gms

 

Dahi Shorba (Serves 2)

 Loaded with probiotics,fiber and other essential nutrients ,a desi ,flavorsome ,comforting high protein soup cooked with  a medley of veggies!

Ingredients

1 and ½ cup curd/yogurt

½ cup low fat milk

2 tsp Gram Flour (Besan)

I small onion finely chopped

1 cup finely chopped vegetables of your choice (carrots,green beans ,bell peppers,pumpkin )

A paste of 1-2 Green Chillies (deseeded )and 1 inch ginger

1 tsp Cumin Seeds

1/4 tsp Sugar

Salt to taste

2 tsp oil or ghee

Method

In a bowl, whisk together besan,milk or water till no lumps remain.Adjust the consistency

Add the chilli -ginger paste ,sugar and salt to it

In a pan, heat ghee and add cumin seeds

When the seeds crackle ,add onions and saute for a minute.

Toss in the vegetables and sauté  for another two minutes.Add a pinch of turmeric powder and stir.

Finally pour in the curd mixture and cook ,stirring continuously.

Lower the flame and allow it to simmer for a few minutes till it thickens.

Serve hot garnished with coriander and ginger juliennes.

Nutritional Value per serving

Energy-  271 kcal

Carbohydrates - 25 gms

Protein - 13 gms

Fat - 13.8 gms

Fiber- 5.6 gms

 

 

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