The immune system is a group of cells, tissues, and organs that act as a defence mechanism for our body. These group of cells, tissues and organs protect the body from the foreign invaders. The foreign invaders are viruses, bacteria, fungi which can lead to disease in the body. At this point the immune system has to function well in order to destroy these pathogens. The three primary lines of defence mechanisms for our bodies are as follows:
- Physical and Chemical Barriers like the skin, hair, mucous membrane, lysozyme, gastric juice and saliva are the first line defense.
- Non-specific Resistance includes phagocytes cells that ingest and destroy the microbes. Inflammation and fever are the signs of the immune system to act, which is the second line of defense mechanism
- Specific Resistance is the system in which the system relies on the antigens which are the substances present in foreign invaders. Antigen meaning antibody generating substances those act as a stimulus for the immune system to act.
But first lets understand the immune system better
The thymus and the bone marrow are the primary lymphatic tissues involved in production of lymphocytes. The secondary lymphatic tissues are spleen, tonsils, lymph vessels, lymph nodes, adenoids, skin, and liver. The lymphatic system comprises of a network of conduits called lymphatic vessels which consists of a thin fluid called lymph. The function of the lymphatic system is to transport white blood cells called as lymphocytes and macrophages, to and from the lymph nodes into the bones. The spleen is involved in filtering the blood as it synthesises antibodies and removes the bacteria from the blood. The tonsils being the first line of defence against pathogens and bacteria that are inhaled through the nose. The Langerhans cells in the skin are the protective barrier to prevent foreign invaders into the skin.
Leucocytes are immune system cells which are present as five types:
- Mast cells
- Natural killer cells
Each of them identify the pathogens in the body and eliminates pathogens at different points in the body. Neutrophils and macrophages are the different types of phagocytes that travel throughout the body in search of pathogens.
How to increase power of the immune system?
The immune system can be strengthened by the following ways:
- Lifestyle changes: Regular exercising improves blood circulation and activates immune cells due to which immunity increases, limiting alcohol and tobacco consumption, maintaining a normal blood pressure, blood sugar levels, sleeping adequately, eating healthy, and being hygienic.
- Being always positive: Positive thinking reduces stress levels which eventually protect you from heart diseases, diabetes and even cancer. According to the department of psychoneuroimmunology studies there is a strong relation between thoughts and the immune system. Positive thoughts release natural chemicals called endorphins which contain powerful cancer fighting chemicals. The power of positive thoughts, on the other hand, are a natural alternative to cancer drugs–and could “make a million dollars’ worth of Interleukin-2,” according to Deepak Chopra, M.D.
- Immune cells in the digestive tract are the highest: There are strong claims that around 70% of your immunity lies in the digestive tract and hence many ancient as well modern medical professionals/therapies believe that almost all illnesses begin in the digestive system. The food we eat directly affects the digestive enzymes, good bacteria and bile stimulated during food consumption and absorption, therefore we constantly need to nourish digestion and be mindful of what we eat. According to a study, deficiencies of zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E alter immune responses thereby reducing immunity. To know more about immunity boosting foods, click here.
- Avoid artificial boosting supplements and medical techniques: There are many products for sale that boosts immunity but boosting immunity is not an easy process because there are a number of different immune cells which performs different functions, and hence even scientists don’t know the right concoctions. Many athletes undergo blood doping to boost their blood cells which can increase their risk of strokes.
- Micronutrient malnutrition: Micronutrient malnutrition is a deficiency of some vitamins and minerals in elderly due to which immunity reduces. Worldwide, the death due to respiratory infections, influenza and pneumonia are highest in elderly than the young. This is due to reduced appetite and less variety in the foods they consume.
The other measures include, washing your hands and legs regularly, keeping yourself warm and wearing a mask when exposed to polluted air. By this we get to know that the remedy to protect yourself from all diseases is to strengthen your immunity. Nothing is more powerful than the immune system. Remember, our body is made to heal and it’s doing everything in its power to make that happen effectively, immunity being the forefront of it all. No doctor, healer, medicine, technology can overpower this.
As the topic of immunity is so important and complex, one post will not cover this. There is a major correlation between inflammation and immunity which we have dedicated to our next post, so stay tuned!