The immune system is your body’s natural defense system. It protects you from bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens that can harm your health, and works tirelessly to protect and repair your body from infection and injury.
The Immune System explained
A vast network of organs, white blood cells, proteins, and chemicals make up your immune system. The components of your body’s defense system cooperate to keep you safe against external invaders like bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungus that cause infections, illnesses, and diseases. The immune system is composed of two primary components.
- The innate immune system– You were had this at birth. If it discovers an intruder, it is the first to respond. It is composed of the skin, the cornea of the eye, and the mucous membrane lining the digestive, respiratory, and genitourinary systems. They defend against harmful microorganisms, parasites like worms, or cells such as cancer. It’s hereditary to have an innate immune system. From the minute your child is born, it is in effect. This system immediately takes action after identifying an intruder.
- The acquired immune system– This develops when your body is exposed to bacteria or compounds those microbes release. To defend your body from a particular intruder, the acquired immune system produces special proteins called antibodies with the assistance of the innate immune system. Upon the exposure of the body to the invader, B lymphocytes produce these antibodies.
Immune system is functioning normally when…
Your immune system can distinguish between your own cells and chemicals that are foreign to your body when it is functioning properly. It energizes, mobilizes, engages in combat with, and eradicates potentially harmful foreign invader microbes. After you’ve been exposed to germs, your immune system picks them up. Your body produces antibodies to defend you against certain particular germs.
Immune system is malfunctioning when…
An issue, such as an infection, develops when your immune system is unable to adequately fend off an invader. Additionally, sometimes, even in the absence of an intruder, your immune system will launch an attack or continue to do so even after the invader has been eliminated. Problems including autoimmune disorders and allergic responses are brought on by these activities.
What Makes Up the Immune System?
The immune system is made up of special organs, cells and chemicals that fight infection (microbes). The main parts of the immune system are: white blood cells, antibodies, the complement system, the lymphatic system, the spleen, the thymus, and the bone marrow. These are the parts of your immune system that actively fight infection. The immune system keeps a record of every germ (microbe) it has ever defeated so it can recognize and destroy the microbe quickly if it enters the body again.
Parts of the immune system
White blood cells
Your immune system’s core component are your white blood cells. White blood cells function as an army against dangerous bacteria and viruses, seeking out, attacking, and eliminating pathogens to keep you healthy.
Tonsils and adenoids
Tonsils and adenoids can catch foreign invaders like bacteria or viruses as soon as they enter your body because they are situated in your throat and nasal passage. They possess immune cells that create antibodies to defend you against foreign invaders that can cause lung and throat infections.
To prevent germs from spreading to other areas of your body and making you ill, these tiny glands filter and eradicate them. The lymphatic system in your body also includes them. Immune cells are present in lymph nodes, which scan your body for foreign invaders. The specialized lymphocytes white blood cells are then activated, replicated, and sent to combat that specific invader.
White blood cells that protect your body from external threats are kept in your spleen. It also filters your blood, eliminating red blood cells that are aging or damaged.
Your bones’ spongy center contains stem cells that grow into different types of white blood cells, immune cells, and plasma cells in addition to red blood cells and other types of white blood cells. Every day, the bone marrow in your body creates billions of new blood cells and releases them into your blood.
Stomach and bowel
Many germs are quickly killed by stomach acid after entering your body. Additionally, your intestines contain helpful (good) bacteria that eliminate dangerous bacteria.
First-line defenses include the skin, mucous membranes, and others
The first line of defense against preventing and eliminating infections from entering your body is your skin. Skin generates oils and secretes additional defense-enhancing immune cells. The digestive, urinary, reproductive, and respiratory tracts are lined with mucous membranes. Mucus is secreted by these membranes, lubricating and moistening surfaces. Cilia, which resemble hair-like structures, transport germs out of the airways by adhering to mucus in the respiratory system. Your nose’s tiny hairs act as a germ magnet. Sweat, tears, saliva, mucus membranes, and vaginal secretions all include enzymes that protect against and eliminate pathogens.
This little organ in your upper chest, just below your breastbone, aids in the maturation of a particular kind of white blood cell. This cell’s particular duty is to become familiar with an invader so that it can be rapidly attacked the next time it is met.
What Does the Immune System Do?
Your immune system recognizes the cells that make up your body, and will try to get rid of anything that is foreign or unfamiliar. It destroys germs (bacteria and viruses) and parasites, and works constantly to protect your body’s health. The body is bombarded daily by pollution, chemicals, bacteria, viruses, parasites, etc. The immune system is what protects your body from these harmful invaders and helps you stay healthy.
The importance of the Immune System
When the immune system of the body is compromised, bacteria, viruses, and poisons can attack people, resulting in a variety of diseases. Immune system dysfunction is thought to be the root cause of allergies and sensitivities to specific chemicals.
At this point, the body becomes more sensitive to substances when exposed since the compromised immune system will naturally fight against substances that are not particularly harmful, such pollen or animal hair. In patients undergoing transplant surgery to replace tissues or organs, the immune system also plays a significant part in the rejection process.
What to eat to strengthen your immune system?
- Dark chocolate- Theobromine, an antioxidant found in dark chocolate, may strengthen the immune system by shielding the body’s cells from free radicals.
- Red bell peppers- Compared to a Florida orange, red bell peppers have approximately three times as much vitamin C. Besides that, they contain a lot of beta carotene.
- Turmeric- The immune system may respond better after consuming turmeric. This is due to the characteristics of the curcumin component of turmeric.
- Broccoli- Boosted with vitamins and minerals, broccoli. Broccoli is one of the healthiest veggies you can eat, being rich in vitamins A, C, and E, fiber, and several antioxidants.
- Oily fish- Omega-3 fatty acids are abundant in oily fish such as salmon, tuna, pilchards, and others. A 2014 study found that regular consumption of omega-3 fatty acids may lower the chance of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
- Garlic- Its effectiveness in preventing infections was known by ancient civilizations. Also, there is some evidence that garlic helps lower blood pressure and that it may slow down artery hardening.
- Green tea- People can use green tea as an alternative to black tea or coffee as it only has a minor level of caffeine. The immune system may be strengthened by drinking it.
- Ginger- Ginger may help lessen inflammation, which can lessen inflammatory disorders and sore throats. Ginger might also alleviate nausea.
- Sunflower seeds- Salads or breakfast bowls might benefit from the delightful addition of sunflower seeds. They are a great source of the antioxidant vitamin E.
- Spinach- Being high in vitamin C, spinach is also a healthy addition to your diet. It also contains a ton of antioxidants and beta carotene, both of which may help our immune systems fight off infections.
- Almonds- Another fantastic source of vitamin E is almonds. They also include fiber, magnesium, and manganese.
- Yogurt- Search for yogurts like Greek yogurt that say “live and active cultures” on the label. These cultures might boost your immune system and aid in disease prevention.
What Weakens the Immune System?
While the immune system is the body’s innate defense system, it needs our support to work effectively. If we do not support our immune system with healthy dietary and lifestyle practices, it cannot do its job. Poor nutrition, lack of exercise, lack of rest, unhealthy organisms in the gut, harmful medications, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unhealthy environments, stress, depression, anxiety—all of these can lead to a weekend immune system, and thus make the body more susceptible to illness.
How Can We Keep the Immune System Strong & Healthy?
The foundational methods of keeping your immune system strong and healthy include:
Nutrition is key when it comes to keeping your body healthy. It is important to focus on eating whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, seeds, nuts, sprouts, grains, legumes, etc. Food in its natural state is so much healthier for our bodies than foods that have been extensively processed and filled with chemicals and preservatives. If possible, strive to eat organic, local and seasonal foods as they are the freshest and most nutritious food sources. Equally important, avoid foods that contain chemicals and pesticides that are toxic to your health. Be diligent about knowing what is in the food you are eating, and do your best not to feed your body toxins. If you put garbage in, you will get garbage out—it is as simple as that!
All of the body’s processes depend upon water to function. Most people do not drink nearly enough water to keep their body’s hydrated and in good health. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is:
- About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids for men
- About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women
These recommendations cover fluids from water, other beverages and food (about 20 percent of daily fluid intake usually comes from food). Do your best to stay hydrated if you wish to keep your immune system healthy. Certain food supplements like ArtemiC help in strengthening the immune system.
Studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold or flu. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover when you do get sick.
During sleep, the immune system releases proteins called cytokines. These proteins help promote sleep, and certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective proteins. Additionally, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods of sleep deprivation.
Exercise is essential to health, including immune system health. The practice of physical exercises acts as a modulator of the immune system. During and after physical exercise, pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines are released, blood and lymphocyte circulation increases, bacteria is flushed out of the lungs and airways, and there are also changes in antibodies and white blood cells, which are the body’s immune system cells that fight disease.
5. Lower Stress Levels
Research shows that stress lowers immune system function. People under stress have been observed to have fewer natural killer cells, which fight tumors and viral infections. They also appear to stop producing immunity-boosting gamma interferon and infection-fighting T-cells. Stress can have many negative effects on the body, and chronic ongoing stress especially can reduce immune system health. To keep the immune system strong, it is important to find ways to lower stress levels.
One of the greatest causes of illness is toxic build up in the body. Every day we are exposed to numerous toxins in our food, air, water, environment and in the products that we use. Over time, the accumulation of these toxins can cause serious damage to our health. It’s important to regularly detox the body from built up toxins to keep the body in good health.
Traditional wellness modalities have always promoted the importance of detoxification for health, and now herbal supplement companies like Zuma Nutrition make it easier than ever to detoxify the body naturally. It is important to detox in an intelligent way, doing so intentionally a few times a year, rather than over-detoxifying the body and neglecting nutrition. It is also very important that after a detox cleanse we focus on rebuilding our health with high quality nutrients from food and supplements. One particular area of detoxification that directly benefits the immune system is parasites. Consider doing a parasite detox cleanse every few months to help support immune system function and gut health.
As you can see, taking care of the immune system is pretty simple. It requires that we take care of our overall health with our daily dietary and lifestyle practices. Eating healthy, staying hydrated, sleeping well, exercising often, reducing stress, and regularly detoxing are all ways to keep the body and immune system strong. Unfortunately, so few people actually follow these basic self-care practices in the ways that are really needed for good health.
Reflect on your own dietary and lifestyle practices and see if there is room for improvement in any of these areas. Can you eat better? Are you drinking enough water? Do you get enough rest? Your health and well-being starts with you and the choices you make each day. Start focusing on those actions that improve your physical and mental well-being, and your immune system will naturally thrive to support you and keep you in good health.