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Immune System 101
WELLNESS

Immune System 101

Your Immune system is a complex defence mechanism which protects your internal organs and body from foreign invaders and infections. It is highly organised and strategic in how it defends you. It comprises of a number of different cells, proteins, tissues and organs throughout the whole body. Just think of it as your personal police force (immune system) protecting your home (your body)!

Spleen

This organ is vital to your immune system. It helps to filter old red blood cells but more importantly synthesises white blood cells and T lymphocytes and is a place of storage for these cells. White blood cells are your body’s immune cells and T lymphocytes are immune cells that help your body fight infections.

Thymus gland

This small gland located near the top of your sternum, it is often a forgotten organ. It actually starts to shrink when you reach puberty and completely disappears by the age of 65years. However, the thymus gland is the location in which T lymphocyte cells develop and mature.

Lymphatic system and lymph nodes

This system is throughout the whole body, comprising of a tubular network and small collections of cluster tissue (lymph nodes) in which foreign bacteria or virus are sent to be destroyed. Your lymph nodes are located in your neck, armpits, groin and the largest collection is in your digestive system. When your body is fighting an infection your lymph nodes swell because the immune system is fighting the foreign invader and sending it to the nearest lymph nodes to isolate and destroy it.

Bone marrow

Bone marrow is the soft tissue within all bones. Bone marrow plays a major role in the immune system by producing all blood, platelets and white blood cells of the body.

White blood cells

These are the key defence cells of the immune system. There are many types of immune cells which come under this category. They travel throughout the body looking and scouring for foreign invaders, ready to pounce and attack.

Antibodies

These cells of the immune system help your body fight infections or toxins that foreign invaders produce. They flag these invaders or toxins and then call on other immune cells to come destroy and remove them.

Skin

The skin is the largest organ in the body. Whilst, we may obsess over how it looks, its main role is to protect us from the outside world via its water barrier properties. The skin protects the body from bacteria by excreting oil which has an antibacterial action.

Mucous membranes

Mucous membranes are located throughout your whole body. One of the many roles of our mucous membranes is to protect us via the secretions they produce.

Mouth, nose and eyes

Saliva, tears and mucous help to prevent the adherence of various pathogens and toxins and stops them from taking hold. Tears also have a mild antibacterial property, should an invader be brushed into your eyes.

Tonsils

Your tonsils are located at the back of your mouth and help to protect your throat, respiratory system and digestive tract. Your tonsils are part of your lymphatic system. When the tonsils are swollen or inflamed they are usually fighting an infection.

Digestive tract

Your digestive system is lined with mucous membranes and contains antibodies throughout it. Whilst your stomach is very acidic and can kill any microbes that enter it. Your large intestines contain a collection of microflora or friendly probiotic bacteria which prevent foreign microbes to establish a stake hold.

Lungs

These two large organs are susceptible to airborne invaders, however the lungs and airways contain fine hairs which trap invaders. The mucous membranes also produce mucous to trap and expel any foreign objects via the body by coughing.

Genitourinary System

The bladder and genital system is also lined with mucous membranes which produce a mucous that helps to prevent harmful substances from sticking to any of the tissues. The mucous also helps to expel any invaders.

As you can see, the immune system is a very complex system that keeps our whole body healthy and free of infection. There is no one magic pill or remedy that helps specifically with immune system health in the way that keeping your entire body healthy does. Maintaining your body’s overall health and wellbeing through lifestyle, diet and exercise can contribute to the healthy functioning of your immune system.
Michelle Matthews
Author

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