How Your Immune System Works
With all these controversies around the COVID 19 virus, I thought it was time to dust off “The Immune System Handbook: Your Owner’s Manual which I wrote a number of years ago. I think it is time for people to understand how their immune system works. This blog is an excerpt from the book.
“The immune system, in simple terms, is a group of biochemicals, cells, tissues and organs strategically located throughout the body. Constantly challenged, these cells work together, detecting any foreign substance in the body, defending and abolishing what does not belong.
At least a thousand times a day, clusters of bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, allergens and other assorted microorganisms try to invade the body. We eat bacteria; we pick up a fungus; we inhale a pollen. Not all of these microorganisms are hostile. Some of these microbes live in us and others live on us. Others directly benefit us. They grow, reproduce and feed on what we discard. But those that do pose a threat are usually destroyed, routinely, quietly and unknown to us.
The immune system is naive at first; it educates itself through each exposure to each new and unknown invader. Without this system we could not survive. When it malfunctions, we are vulnerable to a huge variety of diseases from allergy to arthritis to cancer.
If you have an excellent genetic composition, you will probably enjoy a good natural defense against infections and diseases. You may stay healthy in spite of yourself, even if you are a heavy smoker, heavy drinker or poor eater.
Most of us carry within our body’s organisms, which if left unchallenged, would destroy us. They often live near us in a kind of standoff relationship. They can overpower us if we are injured or weakened by stress, exhaustion or malnutrition. Then the delicate balance is upset. We become vulnerable to their attack and the many illnesses they unleash.
When the immune system functions normally, it can tell whether out of body invaders “belong” inside you or not. When a foreign invader enters the bloodstream, it has surface markers. These markers fit perfectly with certain immune system cells like a key fits in a lock. This lets the immune system, in effect, “fingerprint” the invader cell which in turn allows the immune system to distinguish “self” from “nonself”. “Nonself” can be viral, bacterial, fungal, parasitic, chemical or even a portion or product of one of these organisms.
Tissues or cells from another individual (except identical twins) also act as “nonself”. The immune system recognizes transplanted tissues as foreign and it rejects them. The body will even reject nourishing proteins unless they are first broken down by the digestive system into their primary, non-invader building blocks. As cells of the immune system patrol the body, they seek any particle that does not have the “self” marker.
The immune system can identify the precise nature of millions of intruders. Once it detects the intruders, it sets in motion a complex chain reaction designed to produce specific weapons to fight each of them. It is also designed to protect the body from further attack.
Have you ever wondered why some of us get sick and some of us don’t? Or why do some of us get better very quickly, while some of us are sick for longer periods of time? We are all exposed to the same viruses and bacteria, yet our immune systems handle the invasions differently. The answers to why our immune systems are different seem to lie at the cellular level of the body. Several factors contribute to immune functioning.
Firstly, we all have different genetic material that makes up our immune systems. Secondly, our cells must be cared for, nourished and maintained in a proper biochemical environment. Cells can be strengthened by natural food, good water and air, sleep, relaxation, breathing, exercise, good mental and emotional health, and a sense of purpose a spiritual connection. Cells are nourished by vitamins, minerals and trace elements, amino acids, carbohydrates and essential fatty acids.
Thirdly, our cells must be protected from today’s environmental pollution, dietary stresses and stressful lifestyle which frustrate and damage cellular function. These enemies of good health may make us more vulnerable, thereby allowing other undesirables to take over.
One of the most important results of our new knowledge about the immune system is this: illness or disease reflects immune system dysfunction. You have probably already anticipated the flip side of this coin: Health reflects an immune system which is working well.”
Feel free to contact me for more support ideas for your immune system.
Lead your day,