According to a study by Penn State University, a healthy diet may help boost the body’s immune system to fight infections and illness at any age (Mechanisms of Aging and Development 2010). The study was partly fueled by the lack of research on nutrition in previous studies that suggested that the immune system declines with age.
The study compared the immune funtion of 75 older women, aged 60 to 80, with 35 younger women aged 20 to 40. All of the women passed a series of screening tests for infections, chronic conditions and nutrition. Following the screenings, the participants were examined for immune function through blood samples. Researches found that all of the women had similar numbers of immune cells, including T cells which help to repel pathogens; however, the older women had a lesser reponse than younger women. The researchers also reported that vitamin and mineral deficencies could contribute to a decline in immune function, but the decline may be curbed by a healthy diet.