Diet, Exercise, and Supplementation for Immune System

Risa Groux, CN
 | Published: 
September 21, 2020

Diet, Exercise, and Supplementation for the Immune System

As people age, their immune systems change and undergo a process of remodeling. Immune cell function is reduced, which can lead to a higher risk of infection, reactivation of viruses, and risk of cancer and autoimmune disease. These changes can be modified by exercise, muscle mass, and nutritional status. Chronic low-grade inflammation has also been shown to contribute to almost all chronic disease and has been linked to aging processes. After most people turn 40, the body’s cells have more difficulty producing antioxidants and absorb free radicals, making them more susceptible to damage and death.

In a review in Nutrients published a few months ago, researchers examined the effects of diet, exercise, and supplementation on aging and the immune system. Many studies have exemplified the protective effects of exercise on aging and the immune system. Exercise has shown to increase the function of natural killer cells. Also, studies on older adults who are highly active (such as runners and cyclists) have shown improved function of the adaptive immune system, including a reduction of inflammation and an increase in T-cells.

Consuming enough omega-3 fatty acids is also essential not only for overall health, but also for supporting the immune system. Studies on omega-3 fatty acid supplementation had dosing ranges of 2 to 3.3 grams per day over a duration of a 3 to 6-month period. Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids was shown to significantly reduce kynuerinine levels, which is elevated in chronic low-grade inflammation.

Research on the relationship between the gut microbiome, health status and aging has been accumulating over the past several years. There is evidence that age-related changes in the gut microbiome may be related to elevated inflammatory makers and other geriatric conditions secondary to decreased production of short chain fatty acids. In addition, the immune system tends to decline with age, which makes one more susceptible to infections as well as increasing the risk of chronic disease.

Past studies have also demonstrated how the changes in the gastrointestinal tract affect aging and how this impacts overall health. As people age, inflammation in the gut tends to increase. This leads to increased intestinal permeability with no physical differences seen in its structure. The research has also shown that there is a correlation with a decreased immune response to microbes with aging, which may contribute to an increased risk of infection.


Probiotics are beneficial to the immune system, as they may help to rebalance gut microbiota and modulate gut immune response, as they balance microbial populations, increase secretory IgA, increase natural killer cells, and minimize the risk of infections. Probiotics help encourage diversity of the microbiome,especially if the probiotic supplement is of mixed species. In ecological terms, it is more stable to have diverse populations in any ecosystem. The same is true for the gastrointestinal microbiome.

In sum, research suggests that nutritional supplements including both omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics can significantly reduce systemic inflammation in aging adults. Other nutrients to consider for aging, inflammation and immune support include resveratrol, quercetin, collagen, and vitamin D. All of the mentioned supplements are available in office, and RGN Collagen Protein, Omega Max, and D3 Ultra with K are also available online. 

Source: Weyh C, Kruger K, et al. Physical Activity and Diet Shape the Immune System during Aging. Nutrients 2020, 12(3), 622.

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