Postmenopausal women need to incorporate these 10 immune boosting practices if they want to live their healthiest, longest life.
These immune boosting tips come from Janice Johnston, MD, a family practitioner, and co-founder and medical director of Redirect Health.
“Maintaining a functional immune system can start with what type of diet you are upholding,” says Dr. Johnston.
“Your immune system will thank you for nourishing your body with necessary vitamins, proteins and other necessities. Good nutrition keeps your body running at the top of its capability.
“Specific foods such as whole grains, fruits – especially citrus fruits – and vegetables are great for boosting the immune system and helping with postmenopausal symptoms, while spicy or fatty foods are wise to avoid.”
When buying vegetables, opt for those in their freshest form: in the produce section rather than the frozen foods or (especially) canned foods section.
Add vegetables to your foods every chance you get, even if it’s an “unhealthy” food such as pizza or white rice.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
“Exercising and maintaining an average weight for your height and build helps to regulate your body’s immune response,” says Dr. Johnston.
“Exercise and supplementing the body with optimal nutrients can multiply cell count, ultimately leading to an improvement in the way your body fights off infection.”
Be leery of whom you listen to on TikTok and Instagram when it comes to the debate over obesity and health.
One of the most recurring messages from very overweight influencers is that an obese person is healthy just because their blood work and cholesterol are normal.
However, while those metrics are normal – for the time being – other adverse effects of obesity are already in progress that can’t be detected by blood work, such as damage to the knee joints and a significantly increased risk for obstructive sleep apnea and some cancers.
Normal blood sugars, lipids and pressure are just snapshots in time that are very much subject to change as a woman enters her 40s and especially once she becomes postmenopausal.
“Water is the secret ingredient to maintaining your health,” says Dr. Johnston.
“Water can help flush out toxins from the body, so the more you drink, you will be able to remove a large amount of toxin buildup.
“Drinking plenty of water throughout the day also assists in keeping the body well-hydrated and making sure the flow of toxins out of the body is on a continuous cycle.”
To help achieve a minimum daily quota of 48 ounces of water, add a slice of lemon, or, better yet, squeeze a few lemons in a glass and add a few packets of the natural sweetener Stevia.
Don’t Smoke, and Limit Alcohol
“Stressful activities and smoking or drinking alcohol can be taxing on the immune system,” says Dr. Johnston.
“Just like a muscle, the immune system can be worn out by how you take care of your body, and what the body is facing on a day-to-day basis.
“Additionally, your gut microbiome can be altered by alcohol and carcinogens such as cigarettes, ultimately damaging your immune cells.
“For overall health, drinking alcohol in large quantities or smoking are ill-advised.”
Quit smoking altogether – not even one cigarette a day. There is no established minimal number of cigarettes per day that has been established as safe.
As for drinking, women are advised to limit their consumption – regardless of type of liquor – to four ounces (half a cup) per day.
Dr. Johnston explains, “Regular exercise will boost immune functions because it causes changes in antibodies and white blood cells.
“Physical movement helps white blood cells circulate faster, allowing them to detect illness sooner than they may have previously.
“Exercise for postmenopausal woman works best when rotating between aerobic, balance and strength exercises.
“It is best to aim for two and a half hours of moderate aerobic exercise each week. Over-exercising or exercising too intensely can suppress immune functions.”
- Never skip a structured, systematic exercise session because you did more housework than usual that day.
- In fact, housework does NOT replace exercise.
- Don’t be tricked into believing that cleaning the house is a substitute for aerobic or strength workouts just because there’s a proliferation of calorie-burning lists for various household duties.
- Housework consists of uneven motions, non-neutral spinal alignment and often poor biomechanics, and is often done under mental stress.
- A time slot that’s reserved for exercise will help clear out mental stress and ensure symmetrical body movements and proper form.
Take Appropriate Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
“Vitamin C and vitamin D are notorious for boosting immunity,” says Dr. Johnston.
“These super supplements are important to take because it is easy to be deficient in both.
“Vitamin D can stall inflammation, thus boosting immunity. Vitamin C is necessary for clearing out old blood cells and replacing them with new, stronger ones.
“Taking supplements or eating foods with these vitamins are key to helping boost your immune system.”
Avoid supplements with artificial ingredients, even if they’re the cheapest. Taking supplements does not replace eating fresh produce.
Avoid People Who May Have Infections
Dr. Johnston cautions, “What may seem like a no-brainer is perhaps one of the most important practices in boosting immunity.
“Social distancing and mask wearing can help with fighting against airborne diseases.
“If contact must be made, washing hands immediately is advised. Carrying around hand sanitizer and avoiding touching eyes, mouth and nose will all help with steering clear of contagious illnesses.”
Postmenopausal women should make sure to get both a pneumonia and an influenza vaccine.
Though these vaccines don’t guarantee prevention of infection, they’ve been proven to lessen the severity should one become infected – which leads to the next immune boosting tip.
Keep Up-to-Date on Vaccinations
Dr. Johnston says, “It is highly advisable to stay up-to-date on vaccinations, including COVID-19 and influenza.
“A list of routine vaccines can be found on the CDC website. These vaccines are all recommended in order to be protected from infectious diseases.
“Routine vaccines vary by age and as immune functions change.”
Good Hand Washing and Appropriate Disinfection/Housecleaning
“Cleaning both the hands and the house can help people steer clear of infectious germs,” says Dr. Johnston.
“Following proper sanitation procedures in the home can reduce the buildup of harmful mold and bacteria that cause harm and irritation to the immune system.
“Proper cleaning can help with avoiding mold and anything that will cause discomfort and illness.”
Be sure to occasionally check inconspicuous places for mold such as the back wall underneath the kitchen sink.
Get Enough Sleep
Dr. Johnston explains, ”Getting a sufficient amount of sleep every night for your age provides essential immune system defense.
“Having a healthy sleep routine can regulate your immune response and aid your body in fighting off germs and ridding toxins more effectively.”
Getting only five hours of sleep a night is nothing to boast about. You may still be productive on your job, but there could be stealthy ways that sleep deprivation could be acting adversely upon your body – such as preventing your immune system from working optimally.
Redirect Health, the result of 20+ years of innovative work in healthcare, focuses on putting people first and their employers. By pushing back on the traditional healthcare system, Redirect Health has returned the focus to people and away from billing codes, unnecessary copays and expensive care.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained clients of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.
Top image: Shutterstock/Phovoir