We all know that our immune system protects our bodies from sickness and disease, but have you ever wondered exactly how it works. What can weaken the immune system? Or what it is made up of? In this article we will answer those questions and more.
What is the Immune System?
Let’s start off with the definition of the immune system. According to Merriam Webster dictionary, the immune system is the body’s system that defends itself from foreign substances, cells and tissues. It works by creating an immune response in many areas of the body, such as the lymphatic system, tissues and cells.
What is the Immune System made up of?
That is a complex question because many organs, tissues and internal fluids work together to defend itself from invasion of foreign or harmful microbes.
Skin is our bodies first line of defense against penetration from harmful bacteria microbes. The skin secretes substances that discourage accumulation of pathogens. However, when the skin is pierced that protection is compromised. Once the skin is penetrated a wound forms, which is an additional line of defense to bar passage of disease carrying microbes entry into the body.
Mucus Membrane Lining coats and covers most of our body’s cavities, canals and major systems such as the respiratory and the digestive systems. The various forms of the mucous membrane are designed to endure abrasions. It is well suited for secretions and absorption. The name mucus comes from the fact that it secretes mucus that acts as a lubricant and defense against foreign bacteria. The bacteria is trapped in the mucus membrane preventing entry into the body.
White Blood Cells
White blood cells, also called leukocytes, rush into action when it detects bacterial microbes, viruses or any foreign unwelcome cells. They surround and entrap invaders that flow through the bloodstream. White blood cells are manufactured in the bone’s marrow and account for only 1% of the body’s blood. The white cells are stored in the blood and lymph tissues and since they have a very short life span of a day or two the bone marrow is always busy in the reproduction of these cells. There are various types of white blood cells that have different jobs in the fight to defend your bloodstream for attack.
The air that we breathe can contain disease carrying entities. The respiratory system has to act fast to protect our bodies from developing disease. Sensor cells send out an alert which triggers secondary responses to the lymph cells. Natural killer cells and tissue-resident memory T cells trigger continuous responses that results in the expulsion of the foreign particles.
The urogenital tract flushes toxins by way of urine passing from the bladder. The vaginal epithelium contains an acid called lactobacillus acidophilus. This evolves into lactic acid, which prevents growth of microorganisms.
The parts of the complex immune system listed above are only a few of the body’s mechanisms of immune defense. However, poor diet habits, obesity, lack of exercise and other unhealthy habits can inhibit the body’s immune system to work at its optimal best. Sometimes, foods viewed as healthy eaten in large quantities can have hidden dangers. Lectins and polyphenols are proteins that are in legumes such as beans, peanuts, squash, etc. These proteins block the absorption of life saving nutrients. It is recommended to have a limited intake of foods containing these proteins. In short, our body has an outstanding multi-layered system of self-preservation. The immune system wards off viruses, disease and infections. We can boost our body’s ability to defend itself by establishing good habits such as regular exercise, moderate eating habits and being aware of proper nutrition.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kevin Devoto is an avid outdoor enthusiast and freelance writer. He enjoys writing about sustainability, eco friendly behaviors and local travel. He has traveled all over the world but has taken a particular interest in our great National Parks. He also loves to study health and the human body. He has a fascination for how to eat and stay healthy and nutritious.
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