How Your Awesome Immune System Powerfully Protects You

How Your Awesome Immune System Powerfully Protects You

| By RB Schiff Vitamins

Your immune system is an amazingly powerful thing. Helping to fight off infection and illness, it works endlessly to protect your health.

But how exactly does it do this? And what parts of the body form the immune system?

Let’s explore the awesome immune system and find out how it protects you.

What is the immune system and how does it work?

Your immune system is a miraculously intricate network of cells, tissues and organs that work together to identify, eliminate and neutralize attacks by “foreign” invaders[1].

There are three primary lines of immune defense:

  • Physical barriers such as your skin and mucous membranes[2]
  • Non-specific immune responses, in which your blood transports generic fighters throughout the body. This is also known as the innate immune system1
  • Specific immune responses, which occur when your body learns to recognize invaders and eliminate them if they return. This learned defense mechanism is also called the adaptive immune system1

Thanks to elaborate and dynamic communications among the immune, nervous and endocrine systems, your body “knows” which cells are yours and which are enemies.

Millions of cells pass information back and forth, gathering like a swarm of bees in response to an invasion. When immune defenders identify cells or organisms as “outsiders”, they begin to produce powerful chemicals. These substances alert cells to enlist other immune cells and direct the “troops” to trouble spots[3].

The white blood cells latch onto harmful cells to either absorb or destroy them, enabling you to recover from the ill effects3.

Where is the immune system located?

The immune system is everywhere in your body. The network of cells, tissues and organs are found throughout, with each playing a role in how your body fights illness and infection.

As the body’s natural defense system, the various parts of the immune system work together in a bid to fend off uninvited, harmful cells3. As well as the physical barriers, elements of the immune system are found in a range of cells and organs, with antibodies being transported around the body in the bloodstream.

What major organs are in the immune system?

So, we know that the immune system is active and present throughout the body. But which organs are responsible for providing that protection?

Let’s start with the skin. It’s your body’s largest organ, protecting your internal organs from harmful substances. When you get a cut, that line of defense is temporarily breached, paving the way for harmful bacteria to get in3.

Mucous membranes also help to form a protective layer from external threats. Germs and pathogens that are breathed in are usually caught by mucus and removed from the airways naturally, or through coughing or sneezing2.

Next are the lymphoid organs. They produce lymphocytes (B-cells and T-cells), the small white blood cells that are key players in immune function. They’re found throughout your body[4]:

  • Lymph nodes: Located in your neck, groin, underarms and abdomen, these small, bean-shaped glands produce and store infection-fighting cells as well as lymph, the clear fluid that carries cells where they’re needed and helps to remove bacteria[5]
  • Thymus: Found behind a child’s breastbone, this small organ produces T-cells (“T” for “thymus”). When activated, T-cells transform from harmless immune cells into killer cells that seek out and destroy invaders. From adolescence into adulthood, the thymus slowly becomes fat tissue2
  • Spleen: Located in the upper-left part of your abdomen, it filters the blood and stores red and white blood cells[6]
  • Bone marrow: This spongey tissue in the center of your bones produces immune cells including B-cells[7] (white blood cells) that produce antibodies to fight bacteria, viruses and harmful toxins[8]
  • Tonsils: Found at the back of the throat, the tonsils contain B-cells to fight infections, as well as T-cells to help battle viruses[9]

Working together, these organs help to fight infection and aid your recovery when your defenses are breached.

Did you know these immune system facts?

You already know that your immune system is an amazing thing. And here are some incredible facts you may not know, that prove that very point:

  • More than two thirds of your total immune system cells are found in your digestive tract. Gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) interacts with friendly bacteria to optimize immune function[10]
  • As well as protecting from the inside, the immune system also plays a vital role in wound healing [11]. The immune cells communicate with one another to allow the body to fix itself when you get a cut or wound[12]
  • The immune system can be “educated” to fight particular diseases, through vaccination. By exposing the body to a small amount of a pathogen, the body fights the infection and remembers it, making it able to overcome it in the future[13]

How to support your immune system

The more you do for your army of defenders, the more it can do for you! Although your immune system protects you, it can use a little help along the way.

Keeping healthy is important for supporting your awesome immune system.

Eating a good diet is vital, with plenty of fruit and vegetables helping to give your body the nutrients it needs to support the immune system. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for immune function[14], and a vitamin C supplement can help to ensure you get your proper inake. Adding a daily Airborne Plus Beta-Immune Booster to your routine can help to boost your natural defenses*.

Keeping active is also a good idea; exercise helps to keep you healthy and is believed to help support immune function[15]. Exercise can also help to relieve stress, which is linked to decreased immune function[16].

And perhaps just as important is a good rest. Studies have suggested that a lack of sleep can negatively impact your immune system[17][18]. So, ensure you follow a good routine and get the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.

Your immune system is certainly an awesome thing, but it still pays to look after yourself to give yourself the best chance of overcoming illness and infection.

*THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION. THESE PRODUCTS ARE NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, CURE OR PREVENT DISEASE

[1] NCBI (2016) How does the immune system work?

[2] NCBI (2013) What are the organs of the immune system?

[3] WebMD (2017) How Your Immune System Fights Infection

[4] NCBI (Undated) Lymphoid Organ

[5] Medline Plus (2016) Lymph System

[6] WebMD (2017) Picture of the Spleen

[7] Medical News Today (2017) All you need to know about bone marrow

[8] NCBI (Undated) Leukocytes (White Blood Cells)

[9] Healthline (2015) Palatine tonsil

[10] NCBI (2008) Allergy and the gastrointestinal system

[11] The American Journal of Surgery (2004) Understanding the role of immune regulation in wound healing

[12] NCBI (2014) Innate and Adaptive Immune Responses in Wound Epithelialization

[13] National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (2011) How Do Vaccines Work?

[14] NCBI (2017) Vitamin C and Immune Function.

[15] Harvard Medical School (2014) How to boost your immune system

[16] WebMD (2017) The Effects of Stress on Your Body

[17] NCBI (2012) Sleep and immune function

[18] NCBI (1996) Partial night sleep deprivation reduces natural killer and cellular immune responses in humans.