How does the human immune system work?
The immune system is your body's natural defense system against sickness and infection. Many areas in the body contribute to the immune system. They work together to fight off disease, infection, germs, and cancers.
Our bodies come in contact with pathogenic bacteria, viruses, and infectious diseases daily. Without our sophisticated immune system, a simple scratch could become lethal.
What are the parts of the immune system?
The immune system has a few different parts that work together. Immune cells, molecules, tissues, and organs all play a part.
White blood cells, or leukocytes, are the main defense in our immune system. They directly fight germs and other foreign cells that enter the body. Leukocytes prevent the body from getting sick and destroy the dangerous compounds. Leukocytes remember previous invaders and help the body fight them quicker.
Many cells, molecules, and organs play an important roll in helping the immune system.
- B cells:Invading cells that release antibodies. Turn to memory cells once they've encountered a foreign substance.
- CD4 Helper T cells: Signal cells that "call for help" when an invader enters the body.
- CD8 Killer T cells: Natural killer cells that destroy viruses everyday. Also know to directly target cancer cells.
- Dendritic cells: Digest cancerous cells.
- Macrophages: Eat and eliminate harmful bacteria.
- Regulatory T cell: Essentially the "managers" of the immune system. Balances the system and ensures it doesn't overreact. Autoimmune diseased body's lack these cells.
- Antibodies: Call-out harmful cells for destruction by killer cells.
- Cytokines: Messengers that help coordinate the correct immune system response.
TISSUE AND ORGANS:
- Appendix: Stores beneficial gut bacteria and a home to your microbiome.
- Bone Marrow: Forms stem cells that replenish other cells. These turn into red blood cells, B cells, or T cells. Also turn into platelets which form clots when bleeding.
- Lymphatic system: Network of tubes throughout the body. Manage fluid levels, deal with cancer cells, absorb fats, and react to bacteria.
- Lymph nodes: Part of the lymphatic system. These nodes filter out viruses, bacteria, and cancer cells. Once filtered they send them to white blood cells to get destroyed.
- Skin: This is your body's first line of defense as it protects your internal systems. The skin has its own cells that make up its own immune system.
- Spleen: Filters blood and is the home for platelets, white blood cells, and B cells.
- Thymus gland: Home of T cells and where they mature into the various fighting cells.
When the immune system recognizes foreign cells, white blood cells "catch" them. Once caught, they begin breaking them apart and digesting them. This is the most common fate of a virus or bacteria. At this initial stage you may not even realize you had a virus or germ.
Lymph nodes can also filter for germs and viruses as a line of defense before serious illness. These cells recognize the germ and replicate to better seek out the problem. When you experience swollen glands in your neck, this is your lymph nodes responding.
This is why doctors check your glands in the neck when sick. Other side effects to a working immune system are chills and fevers. Some bacteria cannot tolerate the change in temperature.
How does the immune system work
In more serious cases, antibodies and white blood cells get involved. If it is a repeat offender, your antibodies remember and are more trained to fight again. The antibodies send these repeat offenders to white blood cells before you know you are sick. This is what we know as immunity. Again this may happen without you knowing or without any symptoms.
How is the immune system connected to your gut health?
The human microbiome is the population of all the microbes in the human body. The microbiome consists of between 10 and 100 trillion individual cells. They far outnumber human cells and many congregate in the digestive system.
Over 70% of our immune system is in our digestive system (or gut). How we treat it can affect the bodies ability to fight off viruses and illness.
When your gut health is out of balance this has a negative influence on your immune function. Signs you may have a gut microbiome problem include;
- Skin disorders
- Leaky Gut
- Consistent indigestion
- Frequent digestive issues
- Frequent illness
One of the easiest ways to keep the your gut healthy and immune system strong is by taking a probiotic supplement.
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