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BellaOnline's Allergies and Colds Editor

Benefits of age

Getting older may not be all that bad. You may have fewer colds and be less affected by allergies by the time you reach your 60s and 70s, according to researchers.

Allergies are caused by an overactive immune system. As people get older, their immune systems tend to be less active which results in fewer allergic reactions.

Older individuals produce less of the allergic antibody IgE which triggers reactions. Allergies begin to drop off through the 40s and 50s. By the 60s and 70s, responses are even less. This decline in allergic reactions does not apply to severe sensitivities, such as nut or peanut allergies.

At the same time, allergies are declining; you may be less susceptible to colds. This is because you developed lots of immunity throughout your lifetime each time you were exposed to a virus. The result is a huge reserve of antibodies that make you more likely to be immune to many of the cold viruses out there.

After the age of 50, the average individual has one to two colds per year. Those in their 20s may have two to three colds per year while children have more than any age group.

Unfortunately, there is a flip side to all this good news. Your heightened immune response to colds will not apply to everything. In reality, your immune system is less active making you a greater target for flu viruses which are constantly mutating and chronic inflammation.

How can you ramp up your immunity? Here is your to-do list.

•Overhaul your diet. Increase your fruit and vegetable intake to at least 2-3 cups per day but 4-5 is even better. These foods contain antioxidants which bolster the immune system by protecting your cells from free radicals. Stop the processed food and sugar gluttony. Avoid refined white sugar which actually impairs your immune system. Try agave nectar or stevia as a substitute but skip the artificial sweeteners.

•Get your z’s. Inadequate rest lowers your resistance to germs.

•Exercise more. It releases endorphins which improves your mood. Better yet, exercise outdoors. It gets you away from other people’s germs.

•Shed those excess pounds.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Sheree Welshimer. All rights reserved.
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