What Exactly is the Immune System?
The body’s immune system is an extremely complex network of cells, tissues, and organs. By working together, these help your body fight infections and diseases.
When germs, like a virus or bacteria, invade your body, they tend to multiply and attack your cells; this is what we call an infection. The immune system protects you by fighting off the germs.
Parts of the Immune System
The immune system is made up of several different pieces:
- Your skin
Which helps prevent germs from entering your body
- Mucous membranes
This is the moist, inner linings of your surrounding your organs and body cavities. Mucous membranes make mucus and other substances that trap and fight germs.
- White blood cells
These cells are always fighting germs
- Your lymph system
Such as your thymus, spleen, tonsils, lymph nodes, lymph vessels, and bone marrow. These all create, store, and carry your white blood cells.
How Does the Immune System Work?
Your immune system defends your body against anything that it deems harmful or foreign. These harmful substances are referred to as antigens. They could be germs like bacteria and viruses, or they may be toxins of some sort – or even chemicals. They may also be damaged cells from something as simple as sunburn, or as serious as cancer.
Once the immune system recognizes any type of antigen, it begins the attack. This is action is called an immune response. A big part of the response is to make some antibodies. Antibodies are the proteins that work to attack, weaken, and destroy antigens. Your body also makes other cells to fight off the antigen.
The immune system is amazing – it remembers the enemy antigen, and if it sees it again, it recognizes it. Then it will send out the correct antibodies to fight, so most of the time, you won’t get the same illness again. This protection is called immunity.
Ways to Strengthen Your Immune System
- Get Enough Sleep
Did you know that getting adequate sleep and your immunities are closely tied? In fact, poor quality sleep is shown to be linked to a higher susceptibility to illness. Adults should get at least 7 hours of sleep per night.
- Engage in Regular Moderate Exercise
By getting even moderate exercise, you can reduce your body’s inflammation and promote healthy turnover of immune cells. Walking, biking, and swimming, are a few options.
- Eat Whole Plant Foods
Whole plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds are rich in nutrients and antioxidants that help your body fight off harmful pathogens. Antioxidants in these foods help to decrease inflammation. Chronic inflammation is known to be linked to numerous health problems, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and certain types cancers. Also, fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients and vitamin C, which can reduce the life of the common cold!
- Eat Healthy Fats
Healthy fats such as olive oil and Salmon (omega-3s) may boost your body’s immune response to pathogens by naturally decreasing inflammation. These fats are extremely anti-inflammatory. Since chronic inflammation is known to suppress the immune system, these types of fats can naturally combat a variety of illnesses.
- Take a Probiotic
Intestinal health and immunity are interconnected. By ingesting fermented foods and / or taking daily probiotics, you can increase your immune system by helping it identify and target harmful pathogens.
- Eat Limited Sugar
Sugar contributes to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, and all of these can suppress your immune system. By lowering your intake of sugar, you can decrease your body’s overall inflammation and also lower your risk of getting one of these conditions.
- Manage Your Stress Levels
Chronic stress levels are known to lead to frequent illness and infections, and it suppresses your immune response. By lowering your stress levels through exercise, meditation, yoga, etc., you can help manage your immune system.
Learn More About Getting Healthy & Staying Healthy