Tips for Boosting Your Immunity

In the midst of our current global pandemic, many people across the world are taking extra precautions to stay healthy and protect their immune systems. While making sure to wash our hands frequently and sanitizing our homes can help protect us from the virus, there’s more we can do each day to strengthen our immune systems to help us stay healthy. Older adults over the age of 65 are more at risk of having compromised immune systems, which can make it difficult to fight off viruses and other illnesses.

Symptoms of a Weak Immune System

It’s not uncommon for older adults to suffer from a weak immune system without evening knowing it. In order to strengthen our immune systems, it’s important to assess your immunity and make the necessary changes to help strengthen it. Here are a few of the most common symptoms of a weak immune system:

Fatigue– When the immune system struggles to fight off infections and illnesses, your energy levels can also be affected. If you are consistently getting quality sleep and still feel fatigued everyday, your immune system might be working in overtime.

Sickness– Illness is a common human experience, but constantly feeling sick or having a cold is not normal. If you are constantly sick or have a cold that won’t go away, it could be a sign that your immune system is weak and unable to keep up with your body.

Digestive Problems– Frequent diarrhea, gas and constipation are all signs of a weakened immune system. A recent study found that nearly 70 percent of our immune system is found in our digestive tract. Healthy bacteria and microorganisms found in the gut help protect our bodies from infection. If we don’t have enough of these beneficial bacteria, we are more at risk of contracting viruses and chronic inflammation.

Frequent Infections– Immune deficiency is common in older adults and can result in ear infections, frequent bouts of pneumonia and bacterial sinus infections. If you experience these symptoms more than twice a year, you should contact your healthcare provider.

Slow Healing– When we get cuts or minor scrapes, our bodies develop scabs, or dead blood cells gathered together, to help stop blood forming. If your scabs take a long time to heal, it could be a sign of a weakened immune system.

Ways to Strengthen Immunity

Boosting your immune system can seem like an impossible task. However, there are so many different ways to strengthen your immune system without much change to your daily life. Here are a few simple ways you can build your immunity.

Nutrition
Adding fruits and vegetables into your diet is a simple way to boost your immunity. These nutrients can help reduce the recovery time of colds and help fight against infection and illness. Healthline magazine published a list of nutritious foods that can help build your immunity.

Immune-boosting Foods
Broccoli– This vegetable is packed with vitamins A, C and E and is rich in fiber. Its antioxidants help your body flush out toxins, keep your immune system strong and ensure its ability to fight off illnesses.

Citrus– Fruits like grapefruit, oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes and clementine’s are high in Vitamin C, which helps increase the production of white blood cells. White bloods cells are essential in fighting infection.

Ginger– This ingredient helps decrease inflammation, which can soothe sore throats and other illnesses. Ginger is also known to help decrease chronic pain.

Garlic– This popular spice helps lower blood pressure and helps boost immunity because of its powerful properties including allicin.

Yogurt– This food is full of probiotics that help stimulate your immune system and fight off diseases.

Protein
Our bodies require lean proteins to help support immune function. Foods like turkey, chicken, lean beef, tuna and salmon help our bodies function properly, boost brain function, build muscle and keep us full.

Whole Grains
These foods provide vitamins B and E, which keep our immune systems strong. Whole grains can be found in sunflower seeds, oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa and barley. When you buy breads and cereals, make sure to read the ingredients and check for whole grain.

Exercise
Consistent exercise can help strengthen our cardiovascular systems, boost our immune function and strengthen our muscles. In addition, a recent study found that those who exercised at least 5 days a week were half at risk of contracting a cold than those who were mostly sedentary.

Exercise does not have to be intense or dangerous to be effective. Simple exercises like swimming, bicycling and walking are proven to be effective in boosting our immune systems and strengthening muscles. These exercises are gentle on joints, which is great for those suffering from arthritis.

Hydration
Drinking water supports a majority of our body functions. It has a powerful effect on our ability to sleep, exercise, digest food and help support our energy levels. Generally speaking, adults need to drink half their weight in ounces per day. As always, check with your healthcare provider before changing your diet. Many older adults struggle with staying hydrated, however, there are many ways to ensure proper water intake. Coffee, tea, fruits, vegetables, smoothies and soups all contain water and will keep you hydrated. You might also consider consuming more fruits and vegetables with higher water content.

Supplements
It can be difficult to get the necessary nutrients from food alone. That’s why many people take supplements to bridge the gap. Check with your healthcare provider before adding these to your diet.
• Vitamin C- This vitamin is found in many fruits and vegetables and helps maintain connective tissue in our bodies including bones, blood vessels and skin.
• Vitamin D- While necessary for building and maintaining healthy bones, vitamin D can also protect us against cancer, diabetes and sclerosis.
• Zinc- A lack of zinc can make us more susceptible to disease and illnesses. Zinc helps control diabetes, stress levels and can improve metabolism.
• Elderberry- This vitamin can help alleviate allergies, protect against bacteria, help relieve colds and lower blood sugar.

Simple Recipes from Our Chefs

Our Chefs at Maplewood work hard every day to entice our residents not only to eat and stay healthy, but also to try new things. We purposely use open kitchens to trigger memories and ignite the senses. It also gives our residents a great way to interact with our culinary teams by asking questions or even just watching how meals are prepared.

Chef David Simmonds provided his Booster Smoothie recipe:

• 2 oz. pomegranate juice (antioxidant/superpower)
• 4 oz. Kefir Blueberry (probiotic supports immunity, healthy digestion histories artifact 2000 years)
• 4 oz. Açaí Organic (superfood omegas, antioxidants)
• 1 ml. CBD Oil (Omega 3- Fatty Acids) full spectrum

Instructions:
Combine Kefir, Pomegranate Juice, Açaí Juice and Hemp Oil. Stir! Enjoy!!

Chef Catie Eyklehoff provided her Roasted Garlic and Ginger Soup recipe:

• 4 scallions
• 1 large thumb fresh ginger
• 2 cloves of roasted garlic (place garlic in olive oil in oven covered with foil until golden).
• 7 cups of bone broth or vegetable broth for vegetarian
• 1 medium-heat chili pepper

Instructions:
1. Slice scallions, grate ginger, mince garlic and sauté in a tablespoon of olive oil from garlic for about 2 minutes.
2. Add your broth, bring the heat up and allow the mixture to simmer for about 5 minutes.
3. Add the finely chopped pepper and simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Eat as is, like a warm broth, or add in your favorite protein and/or grain to make a full meal.

Chef Giovanni Maffei provided his Mango Pudding recipe:

• 1/2 cup (125ml) boiled hot water
• 1 packet (1 tbsp) unflavored gelatin
• 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
• 1 tsp ground turmeric
• 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
• pinch of salt
• 1 cup (250ml) coconut milk, evaporated milk, half and half (10%)
• 1 cup (250ml) mango puree
• *for the garnish some diced mango and sliced coconut
Instructions:
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the gelatin and boiled hot water until no lumps remain.
2. Whisk in the sugar and salt until dissolved.
3. Stir in the coconut milk or cream, then mango puree until mixture is smooth.
4. Pour into 4 ramekins or small bowls. Cover and chill for a minimum of 2 hours before serving.

Enjoy a Healthy Lifestyle at Maplewood Senior Living

Our Maplewood Senior Living Communities know how important it is to stay healthy, especially during this pandemic. That’s why we’re doing our part to make sure residents are doing what they can to keep their immune systems strong and active. To learn about our offerings or to schedule a virtual tour, contact us here.

The Importance of Gut Health for Seniors

Seniors should learn more about the importance of gut health as they age.

It’s obvious that maintaining our gut health is important because it helps us absorb nutrients into our bodies, which we need in order to live. But, what isn’t as obvious is the importance of gut health when it comes to other aspects of our well-being. In fact, science suggests that our gut health is inherently linked to our brain health. At any age, it’s not uncommon to experience digestive issues like stomach aches or indigestion. But, as we get older these and other issues such as constipation, diarrhea, and gas can become common occurrences.

Just as our bodies change with age, so does our gut. Our gut microbiome, which is made up of trillions of bacteria that play an important part in nutrient absorption and digestion, becomes less diverse the older we get. This can lead to weak digestion and reduced nutrient absorption, ultimately causing abdominal discomfort, gas, and bloating. When we experience these gut problems, it’s also a signal that something else in our bodies might need to be addressed.

Importance of Gut Health: Signs of an Unhealthy Gut

There are many reasons that your gut might be unhealthy. Food, medicine, and stress can all affect the way our guts work. According to Healthline magazine, there are a lot of ways to tell if your gut might be imbalanced. Here are the top warning signs people with an unhealthy gut experience:

Upset stomach
The most obvious sign of an unhealthy gut or imbalanced microbiome is experiencing stomach disturbances. These can look like bloating and gas or constipation and diarrhea. On the other hand, a balanced gut won’t have problems with digesting and will feel normal.

High sugar diet
If your diet is mostly comprised of highly processed foods that are high in fat and sugar, you run the risk of decreasing the good bacteria in your gut. The problem with sugar is that the more you eat, the more you crave, which can cause you to damage your gut even more. In addition, sugar, especially refined sugar, which we find in processed foods, can cause inflammation resulting in discomfort and even lead to some diseases.

Unintentional weight changes
If you’re experiencing unwanted or unintentional weight loss or gain, it might be because your gut bacteria are imbalanced. An unhealthy gut is unable to absorb the nutrients and fat we need for energy. This can cause weight gain through overeating when our bodies don’t absorb nutrients, or weight loss because of bacterial overgrowth.

Sleep disturbances
Serotonin, which is produced in the gut, is a hormone that affects our sleep. When we have an unhealthy gut, it can result in an imbalance of serotonin, which can lead to insomnia and fatigue.

Skin irritation
Our gut has such a large effect on our body’s health that not understanding the importance of gut health can lead to skin conditions. Diseases like eczema and other skin conditions can be caused by gut inflammation due to an imbalanced diet or food allergies.

Autoimmune conditions
An unhealthy gut has the capacity to increase inflammation all over the body. When this happens long enough, it is thought to alter the way our immune system is supposed to work. This can cause autoimmune disease, which means our bodies attack the immune system instead of harmful bacteria.

Food intolerances
Most people have slight food intolerances, even if they are unaware of them. This means that our bodies have difficulty digesting different foods. If we don’t have the right kinds of bacteria in our gut to process these foods, it can often lead to bloating, gas, diarrhea, pain, and nausea.

Importance of Gut Health: Tips for Improving Yours

When we think about important parts of our bodies, we might immediately think of the brain, heart, and lungs. But the truth is that our guts are just as valuable. In fact, some researchers refer to the gut as “the second brain” because of its deep impact on the rest of the body. Here are a few ways to make sure you’re doing what you can to keep your gut healthy and working properly.

Diversify your diet
Our guts are comprised of hundreds of different types of bacteria. In order to keep these helpful bacteria in our guts, it’s important to eat a variety of foods full of different nutrients. We can do this by trying different vegetables, eating food that is grown locally and focus on foods that are in season.

Concentrate on fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens
Our guts need a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, most of which can be found in fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens. Not only can we get the nutrients we need, but these foods also decrease the risk of disease-causing bacteria in our gut.

Eat whole grains
Our guts need help growing good bacteria in order to prevent our risk of disease and illness. Whole grain foods like brown rice, quinoa, and oats help promote the growth of good bacteria while also increasing feelings of fullness and reducing inflammation.

Add more probiotics to your diet
Probiotic foods help aid digestion and reduce inflammation while also generating various vitamins. Some foods high in probiotics include yogurt, cheese, kefir, and fermented foods like kimchi or sauerkraut.

The Importance of Gut Health: The Impact on Dementia and Depression

Our guts play a large role in our health and wellbeing, but recent research suggests its impact on our health might be much larger than we thought initially. In fact, a recent study conducted through the Center for Comprehensive Care and Research on Memory Disorders suggests that those who have been diagnosed with dementia have a vastly different population of bacteria in their gut when compared to those who have never been diagnosed.

In addition, some studies suggest that the foods we eat can have a tremendous impact on our mental health. Some researchers suggest that an increased intake of high sugar and fatty foods can cause depressive symptoms, while eating a well-balanced diet staves off depressive symptoms.

Exploring a Healthier Lifestyle at Maplewood Senior Living

Maplewood Senior Living takes gut health, and overall health, seriously. That’s why one of our priorities is to offer foods high in nutrients and minerals in order to keep our residents happy and healthy. Every day offers residents a new chance to pursue a healthier lifestyle. If you’d like to hear more about our culinary offerings or to tour our facilities, please contact us here.