Science reveals why we get colder as we get older

Here’s a simple way to warm up your body from the inside out 

Throughout human history, frigid temperatures have typically been a far greater threat to life and health than extreme heat. So, it’s just good common sense to come inside from the cold. This is particularly true as we age.  

It’s been observed that as people get older, tolerance to cold decreases. That’s why we see more cardigan sweaters, more top buttons buttoned, and more older people in Arizona and Florida.   

We also become more susceptible to inflammation and metabolic problems as we age. And now, researchers recently found a link between these health issues and susceptibility to the cold… 

Turns out, it all has to do with the immune system. 

Immune cells are present throughout the body, so it makes sense they have multiple regulatory functions and carry signals and messages to various points. Many studies show this is how the immune system helps fight inflammation, metabolic problems, and many chronic diseases.  

But there are also immune cells in fat tissue, and that, specifically, piqued the researchers’ interest. 

Typically, immune cells are concentrated in tissues that are exposed to pathogens and viruses, such as the skin and the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts. So why are they also in fat tissue? To find out, the researchers sequenced genes from mice.1 

They discovered that there are immune cells within the mice’s fat tissue that are designed to help protect them from the cold. In younger mice, these cells help the body burn fat to generate heat. But the older mice lacked those cells. Consequently, they had less ability than younger mice to protect their bodies from the cold. 

Another reason “anti-aging” techniques don’t work 

The researchers then wanted to see if they could correct the problem by stimulating the production of new immune cells in the fat tissue of aging mice. But this actually made the mice more susceptible to dying from the cold. 

And that’s also a MAJOR warning to the “anti-aging” group that attempts to “reverse” the aging process—instead of sticking with the science on healthy aging. “Anti-aging” approaches may not only be futile, but even dangerous.  

The researchers did find one way to help protect the older mice from the cold, however. When they transplanted the immune cells in fat tissue from younger to older mice, the ability of the older mice to withstand cold improved. 

This demonstrates that keeping your immune system healthy is not only key to helping prevent infections, inflammation, and other health issues…but also to protecting you from the cold weather—especially as you get older.   

In other words, now we know your immune cells protect you from a cold and the cold. 

So, to stay warm this winter—inside and out—keep your immune system healthy with the following tips: 

  • Eat a balanced, sensible Mediterranean-style diet, with plenty of whole, unprocessed foods and immunity-boosting fruits and vegetables. 
  • Supplement daily with nutrients that build your immune system. I recommend daily intakes of 250 mcg (10,000 IU) of vitamin D3, 400 mg of magnesium, 100 mcg of selenium, and a vitamin B complex that contains at least 55 mg of B6. 
  • Aim for at least seven hours of sleep each night. Research shows a direct link between sleep deprivation and poor immune response. 
  • Get moderate exercise (about 150 minutes weekly), which has been shown to help improve immunity. 


1“IL-33 causes thermogenic failure in aging by expanding dysfunctional adipose ILC2.” Cell Metab. 2021 Nov 2;33(11):2277-2287.e5.