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A balanced diet helps women to maintain their immune system as they age. That is what a research team from Pennsylvania State University, USA, said in a recent report in the scientific journal Mechanisms of Aging and Development.

Immune Boosting Foods

The study examined 75 women aged 60 to 80 with healthy eating habits and compared them to women aged 20 to 40. Contrary to popular belief, the older women’s immune systems were found to be nearly as good as those of the younger women. The women were screened for infections and chronic conditions that indicate reduced immunity and possible deficiencies in proteins, iron, vitamin B12, and folic acid. Deficiencies in these nutrients are often associated with a deterioration of the immune system. In addition, blood tests were taken to measure the immunity of women.

Similar amounts of ‘killer’ T cells and ‘natural killer’ cells were found in both age groups, two types of antibodies that are important in disease resistance. Slightly lower activity was noted in T cells, but most immune parameters were not reduced in the older women.

According to the researchers, this study indicates that a balanced diet can significantly contribute to the fact that natural resistance to bacteria, viruses and tumor cells does not deteriorate with age. The researchers point out that in the future, besides proteins, iron, vitamin B12, and folic acid, other nutritional components will also have to be investigated.