When we age, our immune response capability becomes diminished, which in turn contributes to more infections and more cancer.
While life expectancy in developed countries has increased, so too has the incidence of age-related restrictions.
As some humans age healthily, the conclusion of many studies is that, compared with younger people, the elderly are more likely to contract infectious diseases and, even more importantly, more likely to die from them.
- Respiratory infections,
- Particularly pneumonia
are all a leading cause of death in people over 65 worldwide. No one knows for sure why this happens, but some scientists observe that this increased risk correlates with a decrease in T cells, possibly from the thymus atrophying with age and producing fewer T cells to fight off infection. ıfF this decrease in thymus function explains the drop in T cells or IF other changes play a role is not fully assumed.
The other ones are interested in whether the bone marrow becomes less efficient at producing the stem cells that present rise to the cells of the immune system.
A decrease in the immune response to infections has been demonstrated by older people’s response to vaccines. For example, studies of influenza vaccines have shown that for people over age 65, the vaccine is less effective compared to healthy children who are over age 2.
However, despite the reduction in efficacy, vaccinations for influenza and pneumonia have significantly lowered the rates of sickness and death in older people when compared with no vaccination.
There looks like to be a connection between nutrition and immunity in the older people. A form of malnutrition that is surprisingly common even in affluent countries is known as micronutrient malnutrition.
The micronutrient malnutrition, where a person is deficient in some essential vitamins and trace minerals that are obtained from or supplemented by diet, can happen in the aged. Older people tend to eat less and often have less variety in their diets.
One important issue is if dietary supplements may help older people maintain a healthier immune system. Older people should discuss this question with their health care providers.