Your immune system can play nasty tricks as you age

A HEALTHY immune system helps protect your body from foreign or harmful substances.

Some examples of potential threats include bacteria, viruses, toxins, cancer cells, and blood or tissues from another person.

Our immune systems make cells and antibodies that help destroy these harmful substances. However, as we age, our immune system changes and does not work as well as when we were younger.

This increases risk of getting sick and is why flu shots or other vaccines may not work as well or protect you for as long as expected.

Another effect of an ageing immune system is it may develop auto-immune diseases. These are diseases in which the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissues. Healing is also slowed in older persons because there are fewer immune cells in the body to bring about healing.

The immune system's ability to detect and correct cell defects also declines. This can result in an increase in the risk of cancer.

There are, however, things you can do to aid prevention and to decrease the risks related to aging and the immune system.

Having the flu and pneumonia vaccines and any other vaccines recommended by your health care provider will help, as will plenty of exercise as this helps boost your immune system.

Good nutrition and also keeps your immune system strong, as does not smoking.

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