Think of your immune system as your body’s military. It consists of a combination of cells, tissues, and organs, and it is your body’s main line of defense against disease-causing pathogens.
The immune system works by taking notice of disease-causing microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites attempting to invade your body. The system then sends its troops: white blood cells, to destroy the foreign invaders.
In the last few months, immune systems have become a topical issue due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Many people are trying to find ways to boost or strengthen their immune systems.
Let’s do a quick roundup of some of the critical things that you should know about immune systems.
Some People Have Little to no Immune System
There is a rare genetic condition where some children are born without an adaptive immune system. Known as Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) or bubble boy disease, this disease occurs in 1 out of every 100,000 births.
When both parents are genetically related, the rate leaps to 1 in every 5,000. Infections that children with healthy immune systems easily shrug off can be devastating to a child with SCID. That’s why children with this rare genetic condition often end up not living long.
Case-in-point David Vetter. He was born in 1971 with a severe case of SCID. He had to live in a sterile plastic bubble free of infections until he died at the age of 12. His story was made into a 1976 American movie titled The Boy in the Plastic Bubble.
Gut Microbes Plays a Crucial Role in Your Immune System
The average human is exposed to millions of pathogens each day. While some of these pathogens are from external sources, others already exist in the body.
Humans have more bacteria cells than human cells. And these bacteria are everywhere – from your skin to your gut. But not all microorganisms are harmful to the body.
Microbes in the gut play a vital role in ensuring a robust immune system. Nearly 70% of cells that help the immune system are in the gut.
According to research by the Memorial Sloan Kettering team, gut microbes facilitate the formation of essential immune system cells known as regulatory T-cells.
One core function of these cells is to control the immune system’s response and keep it in check. Additionally, microbes help to protect the lining of the gut.
According to Healthline, here are a few ways to improve your gut bacteria:
- Eat a diverse range of foods. Make sure you eat consistently from the five food groups.
- Eats lots of vegetables, fruits, and legumes.
- Avoid consuming too many artificial sweeteners.
- Use prebiotic supplements.
- Eat whole grains often.
Supplements Can Help Your Immune System
A healthy diet is a primary way of helping your immune system work well. However, there are vitamins, herbs, and minerals that can also turbocharge your immune system.
And there are tons of them. They include:
- Vitamin D
- Medicinal mushrooms
- Vitamin C
One of the most helpful supplements that have gained traction over the years is from the plant known as elderberry.
Its flowers and fruits are full of antioxidants and vitamins that strengthen the immune system. You can start boosting your immune system by trying out elderberry gummies.
Your Immune System Can Attack Itself
Now, the fact that your immune system can turn against itself is one of the scariest things. This condition is known as autoimmune disease(s).
Typically, when the immune system identifies foreign bodies, it releases antibodies to fight them off. In some cases, the immune system mistakes healthy tissues and organs for pathogens and attacks them. According to John Hopkins Medicine, nearly 24 million Americans suffer from autoimmune disease. Sadly, about 80% of these people are women.
Some of the most common autoimmune diseases are Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriasis, Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), Addison’s disease, Grave’s disease, and Sjögren’s syndrome.
While symptoms differ from one condition to another, some common symptoms include fever, loss of focus, headache, numbness, and tingling in the hands or feet, swelling, and redness.
If you notice that you are developing symptoms of any autoimmune disease, contact your doctor immediately. It is easier to manage such conditions when there is early reporting.
Laughter Helps Your Immune System
You’ve probably heard the saying: laughter is the best medicine. And now there’s research to back up that claim. According to a study from Loma Linda Medicine University, laughter and humor have significant benefits for your immune system.
Whether it’s a comedy show, a funny movie, or a joke shared between friends, humor is essential for your well-being. It helps to decrease stress hormones and increases infection-fighting antibodies.
And it has many other benefits. Laughter has a way of triggering endorphins or the body’s feel-good hormones. That’s why each time you laugh, you feel happy, and laughter shared with people are bonding moments.
Laughter is also good for your mental health. The more you laugh, the more you relax and recharge, and this helps you to improve your mood, easing anxiety and tension. All these have a good effect on your general health, making your immune system more active.
There is a Link between Allergies and Your Immune System
More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies annually. Also, allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic diseases in the US.
Allergies occur when your immune system responds wrongly to harmless things such as pollen, pet dander, or dust. The body misreads them as harmful and releases antibodies to fight them.
Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America gives the following recommendations to help manage the prevalence of allergies:
- Use area rugs, as opposed to carpeting.
- Keep clutter to a minimum, and dust and vacuum at least once a week.
- Keep the windows closed. Even while the temperature is warm, use an air conditioner.
- Change air condition filters regularly. Learn more about maintaining good indoor air quality.
- Keep bedroom doors closed if you have a pet.
- Use allergen-proof covers on pillows and mattresses and wash linens weekly.
- Use a dehumidifier.
- Limit the number of house plants. Remove mold from surfaces.
Your immune system is your body’s first line of defense against all kinds of disease-causing microorganisms. Knowledge about immune systems should not be a reserve of only doctors and medical professionals.
The more you know about the immune system, the better placed you are to keep it strong. In this article, we have examined some of the most significant facts about the immune system. If you know any more facts, share them with us below.