What is the Immune System?
It’s a complex network of tissues and organs that spread throughout the entire body. It has a series of “sensors” within it, which detect intruding pathogens; such as bacteria or a virus. Then, these sensors signal other parts of the system to kill the pathogens and thus, eliminate the infections.
It saves our lives every day!
The most powerful weapons in our immune systems are white blood cells. 2 main types:
- Lymphocytes – which create antigens for specific pathogens and kill them or escort them out of our bodies.
- Phagocytes – which eat harmful bacteria. (I always think of “Pac-Men!)
White Blood Cells (WBC) not only attack foreign pathogens, but recognise these interlopers, the next time they meet them and respond more quickly. They remember them.
Most of these immune cells are produced in our bone marrow, but also in the spleen, lymph nodes and thymus. They are stored in some of these tissues and other areas of the body. Immune cells communicate with each other in the spleen and lymph nodes.
Every tissue in your body has immune cells stationed in it or circulating through it.
Human sociability may have more to do with our immune system’s exposure to a greater number of bacteria and other pathogens.
Believe it or not, as much as fever and inflammation are unpleasant to experience, they are good signs that our immune systems are doing their jobs. Fever releases WBC, increase metabolism and stops certain organisms from multiplying. Inflammation occurs when damaged cells release ‘histamine’ which cause the cells’ walls to dilate. This creates redness, heat, pain and swelling. As a result, the body limits the effects of the irritant.
In each microlitre of blood, there are 5,000 to 10,000 WBC.
So, How to Look After your Personal Army?
Well, include lots of fruit and vegetables, in your diet, in particular, citrus fruits, bell peppers, broccoli, garlic, ginger, spinach, yoghurt with live and active cultures, like Greek yoghurt, turmeric, kiwis and sunflower seeds.
Easy said and done, I know, but try to find ways to reduce your stress levels because it has a significant effect on your immune system. Stress hormones, though normally help us cope with stressful times, can in the long run, increase anxiety, depression, digestive issues, heart disease, sleep disorders and weight gain
If you’re not getting more than five hours of sleep a night, your immune system can become depressed; this could lead to you catching colds, flu and infections etc. Feel free to check out my insomnia post for ideas to help you sleep.
It is said that laughter is the best medicine. It helps the immune system because of the releases of dopamine and other feel good chemicals in the brain, all of which can help to decrease stress.
Wash your hands regularly. Amazingly, it’s taken a global pandemic for humans, including me, to finally wash our hands properly!
“Always look on the bright side of life!” There’s even research that suggests that being optimistic can actually make our immune systems work better.
Numerous studies have shown that people who are in happy and healthy relationships live longer and have fewer health problems.
Drink alcohol in moderation.
Finally, don’t smoke.
Sources: mentalfloss.com, healthline.com, livescience.com, everydayhealth.com, theactivetimes.com, health-harvard.edu