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The Immune System: Our Powerhouse of Defense

Immune System Defense

The Immunity Database

Having a strong immune system will ward off all types of diseases and viruses. Conversely, having a compromised immune system can be devastating. Immune system abnormalities can lead to allergic diseases, auto immune disorders and immunodeficiencies. But what exactly is this system ad how can we get more bang for our immune system buck?

The immune system is a complex network of proteins and cells that act to defend the body against infection. The immune system works together as a type of database. It keeps a record of every germ or microbe that it has ever overcome in order to destroy it quickly if it reenters. This is the basic argument for vaccinations whose sole purpose is to trick the body into building immunity against an infectious disease without actually having the disease.

Double Whammy System

The immune system is made up of two systems that work together at the same time. The first is referred to as the “innate mean system” which provides a general defense against harmful germs and substances. This system deals with substances that enter the body either through the skin, lungs, or the digestive system. This would be like a rapid response system.

Conversely, the “adaptive immune system” is what responds to certain microbes of the body has previously come into contact with. This is known as acquired learning or specific immune response. Basically, it is a constantly adopting system to deal with changes over time and acts as our bodies’ learned database.

Immune System Components

The core part of the immune system is located in the white blood cells and antibodies. Additional support comes from the compliment system, the lymphatic system, the spleen, the thymus, and bone marrow. Each aspect of the system works together as a massive army of immune strength.

White Blood Cells

The white blood cells act as the body’s memory cells. These white blood cells find, recognize, and destroy recurring dangerous microbes such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi. The cells are made in the bone marrow and are part of the lymphatic system. White blood cells are imperative for increasing immunity. They keep a check on the history of what we have overcome and quickly identify any damaging microbes from their learned knowledge. This quickly processed information is vital as Immunity from one virus is not immunity against all other strains. Cancer patients opting for chemotherapy treatment should know that their white blood cells are depleted as a result of the treatment.

Antibodies

Antibodies also assist in fighting microbes by attacking the microbe’s surface. Antibodies recognize the chemicals (antigens or proteins) that are produced by microbes and the antibodies then focus on these antigens to destroy them.

The compliment system

This system is made up of various proteins which serve as a support network to the antibodies.

The lymphatic system

This acts as a balancing system within the body which is connected through a series of tubes. It manages the fluid levels in the body, helps to absorb fats from the intestine and helps to ward off cancer cells and bacteria. The lymph nodes, or glands, trap microbes which is then carried away through lymph “tubes”. The tubes, or lymph vessels, are filled  with lymph (a colorless fluid) which contains the infection fighting white blood cells.

Bone marrow

This is a spongey tissue that’s located inside of the bones which produces red blood cells. The red blood cells carry oxygen to our bodies and help our blood to clot.

Thymus

The thymus acts as a filter and helps to review the blood content. It basically provides a type of certificate of analysis for your body. It also helps to produce the white blood cells.

Spleen

The spleen also acts as a filter as it helps to remove microbes and damaged red blood cells.

The body also has numerous defenses to help ward off damaging microbes. These include fever to burn out the bacteria, body fluids which contain anti-bacterial enzymes, the flushing of the urinary tract and bowel, mucous lining in the digestive tract containing antibodies, and phlegm in the  lungs which helps to trap foreign particles with small hairs to help allow coughing.

Improve Your Immunity

Keeping our immune system functioning at a high-level is important for our general health and well-being. There are many factors that go into our immune system and it really is quite complex. However, the first line of defense is always having a healthy lifestyle. Eating a healthy diet with healthy fats, fermented food and whole plant food will ensure a balanced and well working system. But there are simple lifestyle changes that we can immediately make to get improvement quickly and consistently.

Simple ways to increase immunity are:

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Do daily exercise.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Get adequate sleep.
  • Avoid large quantities of alcohol.
  • Minimize stress.

Supplement Your Defenses

Supplements can have a huge effect on strengthening our bodies and increasing our defensive internal mechanisms. Here are some great and simple ways to boost your health.

Chaga:

To boost immunity simple supplements can be taken. Chaga mushrooms have incredible antioxidant properties to help fight free radicals and inflammation. It has been shown to prevent or slow the growth of cancer [1] and has been found to lower bad cholesterol. [2]

Turkey Tail:

Additionally, turkey tail is a powerhouse for anti-cancer properties. It contains a compound called polysaccharide-K that stimulates immune system. It’s so effective that it’s an approved anti-cancer prescription drug in Japan. It has been shown to improve the survival rate of people with certain cancers[3], fight leukemia cells [4] and improved the system for people receiving chemotherapy [5].

Zinc:

Zinc has also been found to decrease durations of pneumonia and binding to the influenza virus and then inactivating it. Taking a zinc lozenge in the early stages of cold or flu may boost immune system. Research found that supplementing with zinc reduced the duration of cold by 33%. [6]  The recommended daily doses are 8 mg for women and 11 mg for men, taking for no longer than five days. Taking it for long periods can lead to copper deficiencies.

Selenium:

Selenium plays an important role in inflammation and immunity. This is a natural mineral found in soil and absorbed by plants which we absorb when we eat fruits and vegetables. But eating a high processed diet can reduce the amount of selenium that we naturally absorb. Supplementing 400 µg a day as advisable which would equal roughly 5 Brazil nuts a day. A simple way to get your Boost ON!.

Elderberry:

Elderberry is a beautiful dark berry and is a gift from nature for its benefits to upper respiratory health. In a randomized double-blind placebo controlled clinical trial, air travelers found that elderberry supplementation decreased cold episodes by 29% duration of illness by 51% and symptoms severity by 57%. [7]

Vitamin C:

Vitamin C has been studied over the years for the benefits to the immune system. But the review of the studies determines that there’s only a mild benefit compared to a placebo effect. It has shown to reduce the duration of colds by 8% in adults and 14% in children but did not prevent the cold from starting in the first place. [8]

Vitamin E:

Ironically, the lesser known vitamin E has a substantial benefit to reducing inflammation and can also boost Immunity. Studies showed that vitamin E supplementation in the elderly significantly lowered the incidence of upper respiratory infections. [9]

Summary

The immune system is an important aspect of everyone’s body. It is a complex system that includes a number of other systems and organs to help it all flow and go. By providing our bodies with the help that it needs, and with simple lifestyle changes and daily supplementation, you can help to improve your immunity and ward off those many miserable microbes!

Stay strong and immune ON!

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Endnotes.

[1]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2895696/

[2] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/220715919_Effect_of_the_Inonotus_Obliquus_Polysaccharides_on_Blood_Lipid_Metabolism_and_Oxidative_Stress_of_Rats_Fed_High-Fat_Diet_In_Vivo

[3] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S014067369490233X

[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12470440/

[5] https://www.hindawi.com/journals/isrn/2012/251632/

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5418896/

[7] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27023596/

[8] https://www.cochrane.org/CD000980/ARI_vitamin-c-for-preventing-and-treating-the-common-cold

[9] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15315997/

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