One of these ways is right under our noses - literally, for users of certain sunscreens. It is not an exotic herbal remedy yet to be discovered, it is the mineral zinc. Zinc is required by the body for thousands of biological functions, but deficiency in the elderly is very common. This contributes to immunosenescence, meaning age-related immune decline, leading to an increase in infections and inflammation as the number of immune cells and their functioning falls.
|An expensive source of zinc. Source: Guido (CC: 2.0).|
Food sources of zinc include beef chuck roast, baked beans, chicken and cashews, containing 7, 2.9, 2.4 and 1.6mg per serving respectively. Elderly people are likely to need supplementation, up to a total of 80mg each day according to Life Extension. But would supplementation just be treating symptoms of another, greater cause? If left alone, people experience a decline in stomach acid production as they age, which is very important for zinc absorption (among other things). This leads to poor digestion in general, greater vulnerability to digestive tract infections and loss of appetite. Many older people are taking antacids for heartburn, which worsens the problem and is not the best way to treat reflux (many say the best way is to boost levels of stomach acid and enzymes - see a qualified naturopath). To manage poor stomach acid and enzyme production, treatment options include supplementation with betaine hydrochloride; digestive enzymes or bitter herbs like gentian.