Thymic involution is a primary driver of the age-related decline of our immune system. It makes us more likely to get sick, experience a severe infection, and pushes us towards autoimmune disease.
A strong immune system does a lot for your overall health. The thymus is a particularly important organ for doing all the above.
But it also happens to be an organ that starts it’s functional decline early. By the time you’re 40, 70% of the healthy tissue that makes up your thymus is replaced with fat.
Many factors play a role in our immune function. Our diet, sleep, stress management, and physical activity levels all play a role in building a strong immune system.
However, a major factor is completely out of our control. As we get older, immune function declines. And one of the major reasons why this happens is thymic involution.
It promotes both poor infection fighting and autoimmune disease. It is a key reason why our immune function declines as we age.
Preventing thymic involution
The thymus is a chicken wing-sized organ that sits in the middle of our chest. It plays a critical role in how our immune system functions by training immune cells to fight infection.
Stem cells that will make up our immune system begin life in our bone marrow. Once released from bone marrow, some of these cells go to our thymus where they are properly trained.
A quality control process picks out the good ones and makes them the assassins of or immune system: T-cells. It also identifies some bad actors that react with our own tissues and kills them off.
Therefore, a healthy thymus increases our infection fighting capacity and decreases our risk for autoimmune disease. As you likely know, this is not the forte of the aging immune system.
Consequently, if we can prevent decline of the thymus, we maintain stronger defenses for longer.
A newly published paper found that 2 years of calorie restriction reversed thymic involution in healthy humans. Our most recent video covers this paper and why it’s so important for immune function and overall health.
We also chat about some of the other causes of poor thymus function and how calorie restriction factors in to many of these. Finally, we show you how to calculate your daily calorie target to get these benefits.