In simple terms, the main task of the Human immune system is to identify those things that belong in the body and those things that do not and are otherwise harmful, and then neutralize or destroy the foreign invaders.
The immune system is composed of two layers of defense, with the first being the innate immune system. This aspect of the immune system is non-specific and responds in a generic manner to all forms of pathogens such as viruses, bacterium, fungi and parasites. If a pathogen should successfully evade the innate immune system, the second layer of defense is the adaptive immune system which has evolved specific to vertebrates. Here the body identifies a pathogen mounts a defense and then remembers the specific invader thus developing long term immunity.
The most notable response by the immune system is the activation and utilization of white blood cells which are produced primarily by the Lymphatic system. This includes the spleen, thymus, bone marrow and lymphoid tissue which involves many organs including the digestive tract, tonsils and lymph nodes. These white blood cells are called lymphocytes of which there are three types: Natural killer cells used by the innate immune system, T cells, and B cells, both used by the adaptive immune system.
The innate immune system is active at birth and begins defending immediately. The adaptive immune system begins to grow and learn immediately after birth. Antibodies are produced by the immune system and aid white blood cells in identifying and destroying specific invaders. Every time that invader is encountered in the future the body knows exactly how to defend against it.
The overall fitness of one’s Immune System can be generally classified in three ways: Healthy, Suppressed, and Hyperactive. A person with a healthy immune system would only succumb to one or two colds or flu a year and they would typically be mild and short in duration. They would likely be free of major illness and certainly have no need for medications of any kind. A person with a low-functioning suppressed system would expect to experience multiple colds and flu with some of a severe nature, and one or more of the following: fatigue, recurrent or lingering infections, inflammation, slow wound healing, candida or yeast, allergies including food allergies and reaction to chemicals and mold, digestive problems, and severe conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. A hyperactive immune system (AKA auto-immune disorder) is one that overreacts and attacks the bodies’ own tissue as is the case with rheumatoid arthritis and certain allergies. In the case of allergies, it could be pet dander that is otherwise harmless to the body but nonetheless the immune system will attack the perceived invader and its’ own tissue in the process.
As amazing as the human immune system is, it can only function adequately if it is properly cared for. It’s simple math really. A body that receives healthy nutrients rich in enzymes, probiotics, fiber, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and protein can put all of this to good use and maintain a strong healthy body with an active and capable immune system. Conversely, food that is bleached, processed, loaded with chemicals, genetically modified, laden with hydrogenated fats, and generally void of nutrient value will burden the entire body and provide little for the immune system. No doubt environmental factors play a major role as well. Chemicals in the home, work place and on the food we eat, pollution in the air and water, and some of the not-so-healthy things we do to ourselves all take their toll.
The state of an individual’s immune system is perhaps the best barometer for judging overall health. Making adjustments and improvements to diet and lifestyle that ultimately improve the immune system will un-doubtedly improve one’s overall health and wellbeing.
Written by DMK of Seven Grains.