How the immune system changes with age and why
We are gaining a better understanding of the effects of ageing on the immune system, with some surprising findings that it’s not all downhill after 65
31 January 2023
JUST as many parts of our body change as we get older, so does our immune system. But contrary to popular belief, emerging evidence suggests it isn’t all downhill.
Let’s start at the beginning. Because of their lack of previous encounters with pathogens, young children are vulnerable to all kinds of infections. Newborn babies have some protection thanks to antibodies that cross the placenta to reach the fetus during pregnancy and linger in their bodies for weeks to months. Some antibodies are also passed on through breast milk.
Vaccines are recommended for babies in the order in which protection from these antibodies wanes. For instance, a vaccine against whooping cough is given at 8 weeks of age, because so-called maternal antibodies to this infection fall quickly.
Once babies and children start mixing with other children at nurseries and schools, there is a surge in respiratory illnesses, stomach bugs and other infections they haven’t encountered before. We gradually encounter more and more pathogens, leading to immunity against them that can last a lifetime. Even infections that are too mild to notice can lead to immunity.
In adulthood, pregnancy leads to temporary changes in the immune system, with some immune cells becoming less active to make sure the fetus isn’t rejected. This can mean pregnancy leads to a higher risk of infections, …
Source link As we get older, our bodies change – and so does our immune system. The functions of the immune system are critical in keeping us healthy and preventing diseases, so it’s important to understand how it can change over the course of our lifetime.
When we are young, our immune systems are relatively active in responding to foreign substances and substances that cause disease. However, as we age, the effectiveness of our immune system begins to decline to a rather surprising degree – as much as 10-50 percent.
The decline in our immune system can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, our thymus, the gland responsible for producing the T-cells which fight infection, begins to shrink and become less active as we get older. In addition, our aging cells take the lead in producing pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemicals, which can interfere with our body’s ability to fight off illnesses. Furthermore, our bodies simply produce fewer antibodies and other immune system components, leaving us more vulnerable to infection.
In order to combat the decline of our immune systems, it is important to lead a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise leads to improved blood and oxygen circulations, as well as better T-cells production. In addition, a well-rounded diet plan, along with vitamins and minerals, is essential for providing your body with the essential ingredients for a strong immune system.
In conclusion, our immune systems decline when we age, leaving us vulnerable to disease and infection. By following a healthy lifestyle and diet, however, we can help our bodies maintain their optimal levels of immune function and keep illnesses away.