In a new series of investigations, researchers determined that cheese can be extremely beneficial to the immune system of elderly people. This subgroup of the general population is notoriously vulnerable to all manners of infections, from microbes, viruses and bacteria alike. The main cause for this susceptibility is the fact that their bodies' natural defensive response lingers, and performs poorly.
Researchers have now found that a diet rich in cheese can help in this regard, given that the food acts as a carrier for probiotic bacteria. These microorganisms can help restore the immune system to at least a part of its former glory, thus preventing dangerous diseases from settling in, AlphaGalileo reports. “The increase in the proportion of aged individuals in modern society makes finding innovative ways to thwart the deterioration of the immune system a priority. The intake of probiotic bacteria has been reported to enhance the immune response through other products and now we have discovered that cheese can be a carrier of the same bacteria,” explains University of Turku in Finland expert Dr Fandi Ibrahim, who is also the lead author of the new investigation.
“The aim of our study was to see if specific probiotic bacteria in cheese would have immune enhancing effects on healthy older individuals in a nursing home setting. We have demonstrated that the regular intake of probiotic cheese can help to boost the immune system and that including it in a regular diet may help to improve an elderly person’s immune response to external challenges,” he goes on to say. In addition to helping enhance the immune system's response to foreign contaminants, cheese is also apparently capable of preserving the cells for longer, thus boosting seniors' defensive capabilities indirectly too.
Details of the new work appear in the latest issue of the esteemed scientific publication FEMS Immunology & Medical Microbiology. The experts reveal that eating cheese products daily can revert or at least slow down immunosenescene, the series of processes that sees the immune system degenerating with old age. Some of the side-effects of this deterioration include the immune system becoming unable to kill tumor cells, and also expressing a reduced response to vaccinations and infections. The work was conducted on participants aged between 72 and 103, who were given Gouda cheese at breakfast for 4 weeks.