Immune System know by this articleImmune System-The immune system which constitutes the body’s defence system consist of immunological cells distributed in two main Components: Mononuclear phagocytic system and lymphoid component.The immune system of the body responds to an antigen by two ways:
- Humoral or antibody-mediated immunity– which is mediated by antibodies produced by the plasma cells.
- Cell-mediated immunity –which is mediated directly by the sensitized lymphocytes.
Check the Strength of Your Immune SystemThe following signs, symptoms and lifestyle factors overleaf will indicate how strong your immune system is likely to be. The more times you answer yes, the more strain your immune system is likely to be under. Score 1 for each ‘yes’ answer. Health • Do you get more than three colds a year? YES / NO • Do you find it hard to shift an infection (cold or otherwise)? YES / NO • Are you prone to thrush or cystitis? YES / NO • Do you generally take antibiotics twice or more each year? YES / NO • Have you had a major personal loss in the past year? YES / NO • Is there any history of cancer in your family? YES / NO • Do you take any drugs or medicines? YES / NO • Do you have an inflammatory disease such as eczema, asthma or arthritis? YES / NO • Do you suffer from hay fever? YES / NO • Do you suffer from allergy problems? YES / NO Diet • Do you drink more than 1 unit of alcohol a day? YES / NO • Do you drink less than 1 litre of water a day (including that in drinks)? YES / NO • Do you eat more than 1 tablespoon of sugar a day? YES / NO • Do you rarely eat raw fruit and vegetables?YES / NO • Do you rarely take supplements? YES / NO • Do you eat a lot of refined, processed or convenience foods? YES / NO • Do you need something to get you going in the morning or at regular intervals during the day, like tea or coffee or cigarettes? YES / NO • Do you often feel drowsy or sleepy during the day, or after meals? YES / NO • Do you eat meat more than five times a week? YES / NO • Do you eat a lot of processed snack foods in between or instead of meals? YES / NO Lifestyle • Do you spend less than one hour exposed to natural light each day? YES / NO • Do you take very little exercise? YES / NO • Is your job sedentary? YES / NO • Do you smoke? YES / NO • Do you live or work in a smoky environment? YES / NO • Do you sleep badly or wake up with your mind racing? YES / NO • Are you unhappy with any major aspect of your life? YES / NO • Do you easily get upset, angry, anxious or irritable? YES / NO • Are you overweight? YES / NO • Do you often eat on the run or under stress? YES / NO If you score … 20 or more You need to make some considerable changes to your diet and lifestyle if you want to achieve a strong immune system that will keep you consistently healthy. This book will give you clear guidance. You may also wish to consider seeing a nutrition consultant who can speed up your transition to maximum immune power (see Useful Addresses, page 197). 10 or more You are average but who wants to be average? Look at your ‘yes’ answers and find ways of changing your diet and lifestyle to turn these into ‘no’ answers.This book will tell you how. Less than 10 You are doing well and are likely to have a reasonably strong immune system. To fine-tune your health, take note of your ‘yes’ answers and find ways of changing your diet and lifestyle to turn these into ‘no’ answers.
How to work immune SystemImmunity literally means ‘being exempt from getting something’. Your immune system is very complex and has to be finely tuned to be able to destroy anything which threatens your body.
The Role of Immune SystemKeeping a Balance When you are in good health, everything is in balance – everything is working in harmony with everything else, resulting in a healthy whole. When you are sick, the balance is lost and your immune system battles conscientiously to restore it. If it succeeds, you get well again. If it does not, other influences may take advantage of the upset system and join the battle, causing further imbalance. As long as your immune system stays in control, the battle will eventually be won and order will be restored. Fighting Infections Bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and worms freely inhabit our world. There is no way of avoiding them completely in normal life so the key is to have a balanced inner environment. Coming into contact with a disease-causing bacterium does not automatically mean that it will take over. We constantly live with the fungus that causes thrush, for example, or the bugs that cause pneumonia. But most of us have a balanced immune system that keeps them under control. However, taking a lot of antibiotics that kill our friendly bacteria allows the irritant fungus (not affected by the antibiotics) to grow into spaces where the friendly bugs would normally be,resulting in thrush. Likewise, if our immune system has been fighting a serious disease and the body’s defences are low, the pneumonia bugs can seize their opportunity and attack, causing pneumonia. Many diseases, including the common cold, are infections – we should try not to spread them, in particular to the very young, the sick and the elderly. It is a poor friend who has an infection yet goes to hospital to visit someone who has just had a baby or has undergone surgery. Keep your unfriendly bugs to yourself! Making Exceptions Our bodies cannot destroy everything foreign that enters them: food, for example, is essential for life even though it is ‘foreign’ or non-self. The gut’s immune system is therefore adapted so that we can take such material into it. For instance, we can usually eat an egg with no ill effects, but if it were injected straight into our bloodstream the immune system there would attack it immediately. In order for us to reproduce, ‘foreign’ sperm has to enter the female body. The sperm (which is non-self) therefore has to have in-built local immune suppressors to prevent the female’s immune system rejecting it. And, of course, a pregnant woman’s whole immune system has to adapt dramatically in order to allow a completely different body to live inside her for nine months. Many bacteria are unfriendly, but not all; some are necessary for our normal everyday existence and carry out important functions, so it is very important that our immune system does not attack these. When our friendly gut bugs are destroyed by antibiotics, we are left open to attack by fungi and other pathogens (harmful organisms). We need our friendly neighbourhood bugs in the gut, on the skin and in our mucous membranes to stop the foreigners settling in and changing the environment to their own advantage – and our disadvantage.
Passive ImmunityThis is when antibodies or anti-toxins are transferred from an immune person to a non-immune person. This happens naturally when immunity is passed from mother to child via the placenta or in colostrum (in breast milk). Artificially, passive immunity may be used to treat tetanus, snake bite or those with immune-deficient diseases. Neither natural nor artificial passive immunity lasts long: once the substance passed on to the non-immune person is used up, the beneficial effects are lost.
Active ImmunityThis is when the body’s own immune cells recognize a specific bug or substance and react to it. They can then remember and deal with the problem on subsequent occasions. Natural active immunity occurs during infection, and we gain artificial active immunity when we are immunised.
Nutritional SupportAs you will already have gathered, the functioning of the immune system is very dependent on specific nutrients. Our production of natural antibiotics and complement proteins, and the ability of our cells to carry out, engulf and digest invaders are all dependent on vitamin C, so increased consumption of this vitamin at the time of infection (rather than later when symptoms start to show) is crucial. Taking vitamin C at the time of infection immediately increases your level of protection; taken a day or so later, it will be far less effective. Our production of complement proteins is dependent on calcium and magnesium, while our interferon production depends on the mineral manganese. Calcium is also needed to produce a fever, which, as we have seen, in its mild form aids our immune soldiers. All three nutrients are commonly deficient in our modern-day, refined diet. So our immune system can be impaired by something as simple as vitamin C deficiency. The benefits of good nutrition for the immune system.
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