The Powerful and Mysterious System Keeping a Close Watch On Your Health
In light of events around the world this past year, many people are reinvesting time and energy to figure out how their bodies might work best to fight off illness. One system in the body is winning all kinds of attention in the conversation: richly complex and highly capable, your Immune System is working on the front lines of the fight to keep you healthy.
But how exactly? And is there anything we can do to make it a more effective ally? First, let’s take a quick look at what the immune system is and how it works.
Two Is Better Than One
Like a flame-retardant suit covering the body of a race car driver, the immune system provides overall protection against illness and also aids in emotional well-being. But even though we talk about immunity as one system, it’s actually a combination of two systems known as Innate and Adaptive.
Innate: From the time you were little, your Innate Immune System was hard at work. In the best way possible, the Innate Immunity’s job is to dramatically overreact whenever it senses any kind of unwanted pathogen. Like a 150-pound guard dog for your body, it’s the first line of defense should an intruder be detected, and it reacts broadly and with little need for direction.
Your Innate Immune System comprises physical barriers (like skin, your nose, mucous – anything built to keep things OUT), chemical barriers (like pathogen killing stomach acid), secretory barriers (like enzymes and healthy pathogens), and biological barriers (like specific and non-specific white blood cells).
Adaptive: Slower to react, but much more specific, the Adaptive Immune System learns overtime what to respond to and how much force to apply. Less guard dog and more secret service agent, the Adaptive system interprets threats and reacts to them based on previous interactions as well as observation.
Some examples of the Adaptive Immune System are white blood cells (like Memory B and T cells – which remember pathogens for future reference) and antibodies (which seek out and bind to unhealthy pathogens to deactivate them).
Keeping Your Guard Up
Now that we have a better idea of what makes up an immune system, it’s time to consider how we might keep it strong and active. To really make an impact, we have to address a few facets of immune health:
-Lymphatic Health: Your lymph nodes are dispersed through the body and packed to the brim with white blood cells, which are released strategically as pathogens make their way through you. When you lead an inactive or sedentary lifestyle, the lymph nodes become stagnant, and unable to participate as responsively in the fight against illness. This one’s easy: the more you move, the better your body is at fighting off disease.
-Gut Health: Your gut is home to 70% of your immune cells. That’s a whopping majority of your disease-fighting power. Within the gut is a plethora of microbes, some good and some bad. When we ingest unhealthy food (soda, fast food, too many carbs, etc) we kill off the good microbes, hindering our immunity’s ability to defend ourselves. To increase the good microbes, and ward off the bad, we need to be ingesting vitamin and nutrient dense foods like vegetables, fruits, good fats and proteins, as well as intaking plenty of clean, pure water. The healthier the food that you pick is, the healthier you’ll stay.
-Inflammatory Health: While we regularly think of inflammation as a bad thing, we actually need it to survive. It rushes aid and healing to wounds or sources of illness. But when poor diet, smoking, excessive alcohol, or stress cause the inflammation to spike, our body responds with a systemic attack, destroying good and bad microbes, and knocking our immune system out of balance. A balanced microbiome is crucial to regulating inflammation and maintaining overall immune health.
-Sleep: Your body needs eight hours of sleep in order to allow time for the immune system to do its work effectively. Eight. Hours. There are no shortcuts to this one. Want your body at peak fighting capacity? Get those Zzz’s.
First On \ Last Off
Your body is masterfully capable of protecting you. With a combination of good food, exercise, good sleep patterns, proper management of stress, and the right supplemental aid, you leave your extraordinary immune system in the best shape to fight off illness and infection.
Wondering where your systems or nutrition might be falling short in keeping you protected and healthy? Check out the revolutionary Livewell Clinic, take our comprehensive 360° Health Panel, or shop our extensive list of specially designed products to keep your immune system, and overall health, working to its highest potential.