What Is Your Immune System?
Your immune system is your body’s defense system. Whenever any kind of pathogen, such as a virus, bacteria, or such, enters your body, it is the immune system’s job to find, destroy, and remove the pathogen. In short, the immune system is designed to keep you free from disease.
How your Immune System Works
Your immune system is divided into two parts: the innate part and the adaptive part.
The innate part of your immune system is the part of your immune system that is always there and guarding against infection or disease. It is your first line of defense.
Parts of the innate immune system include neutrophils, macrophages, and dendritic cells. Natural Killer Cells, or NKC’s, are also part of your innate immune system. They are specially able at killing cells infected with a virus, as well as cancer cells.
Your innate immune system also includes parts like your skin mucous membranes, and other parts that protect your health by blocking or keeping out pathogens.
Your adaptive immune system is the part of your system that adapts to respond to threats to your health. The adaptive part of your immune system is the reason that you generally will not get the same common cold virus or chickenpox more than once.
Your adaptive immune system is made up of two primary components: antibodies and T-cells. Each of these types is designed to recognize specific types of virus-infected cells, bacteria, or other pathogens.
Note that this is a very generalized overview of how your immune system works. For a more precise explanation, see an encyclopedia or medical textbook.
Nutrition and your immune system
There are many nutrients that play a role in your immune function. Here are just a few of them:
Glyconutrients are an important part of the immune response. Glyconutrients are used to create glycoproteins, which cover the outsides of all cells in your body. These glycoproteins are used by immune system cells (among others) for recognizing pathogens.
Phytonutrients have been found by science to be very helpful in fighting disease. Scientists are not certain whether phytonutrients are actually used by your body, if they have a direct effect on disease, or both.
Colostrum taken as a supplement can help boost the immune system.
Deficiencies in vitamin C can cause poor immunity.
The human body is a very vulnerable organism, except for the very strong line of defense that the immune system has thrown around it. Without the natural defense system provided by the immune system, the bacteria, microbes, viruses, toxins, parasites, etc., would reduce the body to its chemical components in a few days.
That is what happens when the body dies and the immune system is no longer there. The human immune system works 24X7, though its work never comes to the limelight. The failure of the immune system is easily noticeable, though.
Although we inhale and eat thousands of germs everyday, the immune system prevents them from causing diseases. When a germ breaks through the immune system occasionally, we wind up with a disease. Once the immune system learns about these germs, it will fight them, and we get over the malady.
The major parts of the immune system are the thymus, spleen, lymph system, bone marrow, white blood cells, antibodies, complement system, and hormones.
The immune support system displays dual characteristics: self or non-self recognition, general or specific, and natural or adaptive, cell-mediated or humoral, active or passive, and primary or secondary. Some parts of the immune system act against specific antigens. These parts are called antigen-specific. Other parts of the immune system are systemic, working throughout the human body rather than restricting themselves to the initial infection site. Still others recognize antigens in order to an attack them more vigorously next time they pose a threat. These parts of the immune system are said to possess a memory.
We are all born with a genetically based natural defense system. The skin is the most important organ of our natural defense system. An injury is a gateway for germs to enter the body. This, or the presence of a foreign object within the body, causes the immune system to act, getting rid of the invaders, while the skin takes care of the wound. When this process does not take place, it results in an infection.
Another sign of the functioning of the immune system is when we get a rash or a bump on the skin after a mosquito bites.
The body would cease to be without the immune system. Just take a look at some of the few things that could go wrong with a sub-optimal immune system:
Self or non-self recognition in the immune system occurs when every cell displays a marker based on the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). If a cell does not display this marker, the immune system considers it as a non-self and attacks it.
A breakdown of this process results causes the immune system to attack the self-cells. Multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus, types of diabetes and arthritis are all autoimmune diseases caused by the immune system attacking the self-cells. Allergies are the result of the immune system overreacting to certain stimuli.
Diabetes occurs when the immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas and destroys them. Rheumatoid arthritis is also the result of the immune system causing trouble in the joints. The immune system also creates problems during organ transplants; it often refuses to accept the new organ.
Keeping the immune system in proper working order, especially with the increasing amounts of toxic pollutants in the environment, is becoming a tough task. Recent research is leading scientists to believe that certain carbohydrates represent the next frontier in the search for non-toxic compounds that support the immune system.
Eight of these essential sugars, called glyconutrients, have already been discovered. Only two of these are found in our daily diet though. These eight essential sugars supply the body with glycoforms that are needed for cell-to-cell communication. Four of the last eight Nobel Prizes in medicine have been awarded for research into Glycobiology. A steady supply of glyconutrients is necessary for keeping the immune system working well. It has been found that the body recovers and heals faster when glyconutrients are used when administering chemotherapy and radiation.
Trouble is, the same toxins in the environment that weaken our immune system also affect the body’s ability to synthesize these glyconutrients. Which is why we should ensure a steady supply of these glyconutrients through glyconutritionals or food supplements containing glyconutrients.
We are living in an increasingly polluted world. The body is increasingly finding it difficult to combat the ill-effects of these through its natural processes. It is up to us to use our intelligence to tap our advance medical knowledge for the body’s help.