By Penda Barry / Nutritional Therapist
The term “immune” derives from Latin Immunis, meaning “exempt” which in the context of the immune system refers to foreign invading agents. The immune system is a complex fighting system that maintains the body’s integrity and function.
The purpose of the immune system is to keep infectious microorganisms, such as certain bacteria, viruses, and fungi, out of the body, and to destroy any infectious microorganisms that invade the body. A person with a weak immune system is likely to get infections more frequently than other people, and these illnesses might be more severe or harder to treat.
The immune system fights constantly to keep you healthy through a complex process that protects the body against disease. This protection is called immunity. It is the result of a coordinated effort of different organs, tissues, cells and molecules that make up a complex protection system or immune system. This system includes:
- The lymphatic system (the lymph nodes and vessels)
- The spleen, which filters the blood and helps the immune system by destroying bacteria and other foreign substances.
- Leukocytes (White blood cells).
The immune system is made up of two armies of cells: innate and acquired. Innate immune cells are the body's first line of defense because they are the fastest and most instinctual responders. The acquired cells (mostly T-cell and B-cells) are right behind, taking a little time to work out the best antidote (or antibodies) for the particular antigens (invaders) detected. When they are ready, they can effectively join in the battle with their more honed abilities.
The two basic types of Leukocytes are:
- Phagocytes = Eat up invading organisms
- Lymphocytes = Remember, recognition and help kill invaders
The most common type of phagocyte is a Neutrophil which primarily fights bacteria. During a bacterial infection the number of neutrophils can increase the two types of Lymphocytes are B Lymphocytes and T Lymphocytes. They have separate functions the B lymphocytes are like the “commander” of the army seeking targets coming up with strategies and sending out the T lymphocytes “soldiers” to destroy the invaders.
The lymphatic system is a system of vessels that drains and filters the fluid and returns it to the bloodstream. It has a major function in defending the body against infection and cancer.
The spleen is also an important organ in the immune system, producing the white blood cells that fight infection and synthesize antibodies.
How can you keep your immune system to his optimum level to make sure that your body responds to invader effectively? How can you Develop a Strong immune/Defense system?
In healthy people the immune system does a great job in preventing disease, However, some people have immune systems that don’t work as well as effectively to rid the body of the many pathogens and toxins that bombard us daily.
- Practice good hygiene. Washing your hands regularly can prevent infections.
- Eat a balanced diet. 70% of the immune system is in your gut, therefore our immune system needs nutritional support to function
- Get plenty of exercise. Staying active will help your body fight off infections, reduces inflammation and the release of stress-related hormones such as Cortisol.
- Get a good night’s sleep, your body can’t function correctly if you aren’t sleeping well.
- Chronic stress can lower your body’s natural immune response. This can delay healing and increase the frequency of infections
This is why, in order to be really healthy, we must focus on improving our digestion. It is not just about embarrassing gas and bloating, but the foundation of our health and wellbeing. Here are some of our top tips to help you optimise digestion and your microbiome:
Consider taking supplements and making dietary changes
Deficiencies in certain micro-nutrients alter immune responses and may compromised the body ability to defend itself. The following nutrients and dietary changes have been proven to help boost your immune system:
- Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Iron, Folic acid, Zinc
- Increase dietary Soluble fiber switches immune cells from pro-inflammatory to anti-inflammatory, which helps us to heal faster from infection.
- Resveratrol found in blueberries and red grapes, respectively, help raise the expression of cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide (CAMP) gene, which is involved in immune function. The CAMP gene plays a vital role in the innate immune system.
- Probiotics such as Micromax may help counteract the adverse effects antibiotics by keeping the immune system ready to respond to new infections.
- Curcumin found in curry and turmeric, may assist immune system with clearing the brain of beta-amyloid plaques seen in Alzheimer's disease.
- Rice Bran Arabinoxylan MGN-3 Significantly enhances macrophages phagocytic activity and strengthen weak immune system.
Making sure that our immune systems are in tip-top condition is vital for maintaining optimum health and reducing the risk of infections, and it can also reduce recovery time when we do become infected.
- Susan A lanham – New Ian A macdonald & Helen M Roche, 2011. Nutrition and metabolism 2nd ed. p321-338
- Ghoneum M. and A. Jewett, 2004. Enhancement of natural killer cell activity by modified arabinoxylan from rice bran (MGN-3)”, Int.J. Immunother, 14,89.
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29037071 Evidence-Based Review of BioBran/MGN-3 Arabinoxylan Compound as a Complementary Therapy for Conventional Cancer Treatment.
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5925142/ Regulation of Immune Function by Polyphenols
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28474815 Probiotic supplementation promotes a reduction in T-cell activation, an increase in Th17 frequencies, and a recovery of intestinal epithelium integrity and mitochondrial morphology in ART-treated HIV-1-positive patients.
- Espinoza, J. L., Trung, L. Q., Inaoka, P. T., Yamada, K., An, D. T., Mizuno, S., et al. (2017). The repeated administration of resveratrol has measurable effects on circulating T-cell subsets in humans.Oxid. Med. Cell. Longev. 2017:6781872. doi: 10.1155/2017/6781872 - https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system