Flu season, along with the ubiquity of runny noses and sore throats, has arrived. While seniors can protect themselves from the flu by getting a flu vaccine, it is important that they eat nutritiously and boost their immune system. Here are superfoods that help protect the elderly from the flu.
Exposure to the flu virus can lead to a host of undesirable symptoms. Congestion, fever, body aches, chills, fatigue, headaches, and chest discomfort accompany the flu. Seniors over age 65, however, can develop complications when these flu symptoms are not immediately treated.
Serious complications of the flu include pneumonia and bronchitis. Pneumonia in older adults causes confusion, vomiting, and a lower-than-normal body temperature. When pneumonia is left untreated, bacteria enter the bloodstream, and organ failure can result. Fluids can also accumulate in the lungs.
Additional complications of the flu include inflammation of the brain, heart, or muscles. In individuals who suffer from asthma or heart disease, the flu virus can aggravate these conditions. The majority of seasonal flu-related deaths (approximately 85 percent) occur in seniors who are 65 and over.
Considering the severity of flu symptoms, seniors are urged to first, receive a flu vaccine, and second, enhance their immune system. Eating foods filled with enriching vitamins and minerals strengthens the immune systems of older adults. Boosting the immune systems helps the body fight off viruses.
A well-functioning immune system is critical to avoid getting sick with the flu. Vitamin C helps support the immune system. The body readily absorbs this nutrient from foods that contain an abundance of it. Seniors should consume Vitamin C daily, as the body does not store it.
Especially during flu season, seniors are encouraged to eat oranges, tangerines, or grapefruits. These fruits are loaded with Vitamin C. Other foods rich with this nutrient include strawberries and tomatoes. Seniors are advised to snack on fruits containing Vitamin C on a daily basis.
2. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens contain Vitamins C and E, which are nutrients that enhance the immune system. Spinach and kale are two of the many types of leafy greens. Seniors might enjoy the spinach or kale in a smoothie mixed with fruit or in a salad drizzled with lemon and olive oil.
One serving of broccoli is loaded with nutrients, including Vitamins C and E, fiber and calcium. These immune-enhancing nutrients are most potent when the broccoli is eaten raw or cooked as little as possible. Seniors may enjoy broccoli in soup, as long as caregivers check the sodium content.
Vitamin D regulates the immune system, and salmon contains 600 IU of this nutrient. People aged 70 and older are advised to have 800 IU of Vitamin D daily. Additionally, salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids, which strengthens the immune system. Grill the salmon or toss it over a salad.
Rich in Vitamin E, nuts are essential for supporting the growth of T-cells in the immune system. Walnuts, more than any other type of nut, are an excellent source of omega-6 fatty acids and other fatty acids, like alpha linolenic acid. Toss nuts over yogurt or savor them raw.
6. Sweet Potatoes
Since the aging body produces fewer immune cells, it is important for seniors to load up on foods that increase them. Sweet potatoes are packed with beta carotene, which helps the body produce Vitamin A. Roast sweet potatoes with oil rather than cooking them with butter or brown sugar.
The body’s white blood cells fend off the flu virus. Beans, like chickpeas, kidney beans and black beans, contain high amounts of zinc, which produces white blood cells. Improve immune system function by consuming half a cup of beans, such as with rice, chili or salads, three times a week.
Yogurt contains live bacteria, which interact with the microbes in the intestine. The probiotics in yogurt have the ability to reduce the body’s inflammatory response. Choose yogurt that contains live and active cultures, which can only be found in a grocer’s refrigerated section. Serve yogurt daily.
9. Green Tea
Green tea is infused with important antioxidants. The amino acid in green tea helps older people fight the flu. The abundance of antioxidants contained in a daily cup of green tea will support the immune system’s efforts to ward off seasonal influenza.
A strong immune system is key to fending off the flu. Caregivers are encouraged to serve seniors nutrient-dense foods, like those above. In addition to eating right and getting the flu vaccine, seniors should stay physically active. Regular exercise strengthens the immune system and helps fight viruses.
When families juggle multiple households (their own and their senior loved ones’), extra support becomes critical to seniors’ health and well-being. Enlisting in-home care from Assisting Hands Home Care ensures that the senior in your life eats nutritiously every day.
Professional caregivers from our home care agency prepare balanced meals that meet the senior’s dietary restrictions. We also shop for groceries, so that care recipients have access to fresh foods that enhance the immune system. If the senior needs help eating, our caregivers provide assistance.
Home care does not stop with meal preparation and grocery shopping. Assisting Hands Home Care professionals also support seniors with the activities of daily living. We provide help with personal hygiene tasks, offer transportation, give medication reminders, and perform light housekeeping.
When families require in-home support intermittently, our respite care option is invaluable. Respite care is short-term care, such as for a few hours or days. By hiring respite care, family caregivers take a break from caregiving, while knowing their loved one’s well-being is in good hands.
Respite care from Assisting Hands Home Care is ideal when families go on vacation or travel for the winter holidays. Our home care services are available to seniors living in the surrounding areas of Palm Beach, Florida. Call us to schedule an in-home consultation and start quality elder care.