In addition to a good diet and physical exercise, the delay shown by centenarians in the so-called immunosenescence is key to having a long and healthy life expectancy.
In recent times, experts began to raise awareness among their patients and the public about the fact that 80% of the immune system is housed in the intestine, and hence the importance of a healthy diet in strengthening overall health.
To begin with, it could be said that the intestine between the small and the large reaches a length of approximately eight meters, and even if it is all rolled up, it reaches the size of the width of a tennis court.
If you could see it with a magnifying glass, you would see that it looks like a cotton towel, and those little cotton hairs in the intestine are called microvilli. That’s where the microbiota lives.
The intestinal microbiota, formerly known as intestinal flora, is made up of hundreds of millions of microorganisms and bacteria found in the intestinal tract.
In order for the intestine to function properly, the microbiota must be in balance, the microorganisms of the good side must be abundant and diverse.
But unfortunately in everyday life there are many habits that break that balance: poor diet, abuse of antibiotics and antiseptic products, and stress, among others.
“The immune system is made up of cells, organs and proteins that circulate in the blood and function as a network in which they interrelate.
The normal thing is a constant balance and that balance is threatened by different situations, ranging from stress to elements of the environment.
The system is set up to counteract that and always come back to balance.” says specialist in immunology and rheumatology Pablo Mannucci
According to Mannucci, who is the coordinator of the Immunology area at the German Hospital in Buenos Aires, “for this balance to be maintained and the immune system to remain active, there are fundamental elements.”
1- “First you have to be well nourished and have an adequate diet,” he said in reference to “fundamentally avoiding being overweight.”
One of the most important vitamins for the health of the immune system is D.
2- Avoid tobacco, since “it has been shown that it alters the functioning of immune cells.”
3- Do physical activity. Exercise helps the body produce anti-inflammatory immune cells and circulate them through the bloodstream.
4- Control alcohol intake
5- Comply with the mandatory vaccination scheme and be aware of vaccines that are necessary in certain situations (for example, yellow fever in case of travel to certain areas or anti-pneumococcal in asthmatics).
Likewise, there is increasing evidence of how good quality sleep favors the production of immune cells.
It is that contrary to what happens with most of the processes of the organism when it is in the deep sleep stage, which go at a slower rate, with the immune system the opposite occurs, they accelerate.
What happens to immunity over the years
As people age, a large number of changes occur in the body. One of them is related to a poorer functioning of the immune system, since it becomes more susceptible to infections and diseases.
In addition, there is evidence of a general decline in adaptive immune function, with important implications for health and life expectancy.
The efficacy of the immune system relies on its ability to generate an enormous variety of different antibody sequences, with a wide range of antigenic specificities, which progressively adjust the composition of this antibody population in response to antigen challenge.
As people age, the immune system naturally begins to undergo drastic degradation, a condition called immunosenescence.
With advancing age, a person’s immune profile weakens and includes too many worn-out white blood cells circulating and too few fresh “naive” white blood cells ready to take on new invaders.