Immune System 101
Your immune system is your number one defense against all pathogens (disease causing agents). Is that a bold statement or the truth? Both. Why the idea that a natural defense system which is inherent and free, can be a novel idea, only tells you that our society has been so programmed to rely on drugs, vaccinations and other outside influences far too readily.
Our bodies, and components of, have had billions of years of evolution to perfect the many processes it automatically and constantly plays out. Your immune system is just one component of this perfect design.
The immune system comprises of anything which works to protect you from disease (dis-ease). From the outside, it starts at the skin. Your skin has trillions of cells which act as a barrier for pathogens. Some of these cells are part of you, skin cells, hair, etc. Some are also bacteria, viruses and fungi that for the most part live symbiotically on your skin to kill or deter other ‘germs’. Pathogens may also come into your body through orifices or openings such as your ears, eyes, nose, mouth, anus and vagina. These openings will have another layer of defense, aside from the microbiota, such as mucosa (tissues which produce mucus to trap and destroy pathogens) and cilia (cells with hairs to trap potential pathogens). If you ingested something that can make you sick, there is mucosa, stomach acid and physical barriers which prevent the pathogen from getting into the blood stream. If you have a cut or wounds, your body also instinctively produces clotting factors to quickly seal up potential infection sites. These are all the first line of defense which is part of the immune system.
Once a pathogen proliferates and potentially causes dis-ease in the body, two types of immune response kicks in. One is called cell-mediated response. This is the stimulation of T cells, primarily T cytotoxic or killer cells. Cytotoxic T cells are like burly bouncers that come in and beat up infected cells to a pulp. Other immune T cells, like the bouncer’s assistance’s will try to keep the peace or clean up the mess by carrying away the beaten up infected cells. The other type of immune response is the antibody response. This is when cytokines (chemical messengers), like secret agents go around looking for riff-raff and misfits. Once they identify any cell which could cause disease or disruption to the peace, they mark them. B cells then stimulate plasma cells to produce (manufacture) antibodies. These cytokines are important for T cell, cell mediated immunity as well, as antibody immunity. Antibody immunity is when the antibodies attach to specific receptor sites of the antigen (pathogen), sort of like a bandage, keeping the cells from causing too much damage. These antibodies also act as markers. Once T cells recognize the marker, they can attack these cells.
So as you can see, the immune system is very sophisticated and works in multiple ways alone and in combination to keep our bodies balanced and healthy. The best thing you can do is to support this natural intelligence by providing your body with moderate exercise, clean fresh air, nutritious foods and herbs, laughter and happiness. It’s all related, interconnected and essential to real sustainable health.