A change in attitude may influence the immune system, new research shows. Interestingly, the research conducted by a team of Australian researchers also found that developing a positive attitude strengthened immune system and improved life expectancy.
"Despite the fact that people often think of late life as a period of doom and gloom, older people are often more positive than younger people," lead researcher of the study Dr Elise Kalokerinos, said in a news release. "Our research suggests that this focus on the positive may help older people protect their declining health."
For the study, Dr Kalokerinos and colleagues from The University of Queensland in Australia, monitored 50 old people, aged between 65 and 90 for a period of two years.
Positive attitude in participants was determined through a photo recalling task. During the test, participants viewed a series of negative and positive photos and were later asked to recall them. Blood samples from the participants were used to analyse strength of their immune system.
Immune system of people who scored high in recollecting positive images were stronger than those who remembered negative images.
"Participants who recalled more positive than negative images had antibodies in their blood suggesting stronger immune systems than those of their counterparts, who did not show this positivity in memory," Dr Kalokerinos said.
"A person who focuses on positive information over negative information may be better able to cope with stressful situations, may take a more positive long-term outlook on life, and may maintain positive social interactions, thus reaping the immune benefits."
The study has been published in Psychology and Aging.
Immunity of a person declines with age. According to experts from the Harvard Medical School, ageing increases a person's risk of contracting several infectious diseases, and respiratory infections is one of the main causes of death among elderly people across the whole world. Though they couldn't underline the exact causes that led to this occurrence, they believed a drop in the production of T cells playing a huge role.
Following are some tips from Harvard Medical School that help improve immunity:
- Follow a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- Abstain from smoking
- Limit alcohol intake
- Sleep properly
- Try to get enough physical activity through regular exercise
- Shed excess fat and get into shape
- Keep blood pressure under control
- Remain clean through regular washing of hands and build a hygienic environment in the kitchen
Previous research has highlighted certain foods that help improve immunity. Red grapes and blueberries are some of them. Though addiction to alcohol can impair immunity, several studies have shown that consuming moderate levels of alcohol was good for building immunity.