What exactly is the immune system, how does it work, and how can we help it do its job more efficiently? Today we will discuss the answers to these questions and more.
To put it simply, the immune system is your body's defense against infections. This system protects you from germs and ultimately keeps you healthy.
Now, the way this system works is not so simple but today I will break it down for you. The immune system is a complex system of organs, cells, and proteins that all work together to protect your body from infections.
Here is how it works:
White blood cells, or leukocytes, play a key role in the immune system. Phagocytes are a type of white blood cell, that crush invading organisms. While, the lymphocytes, another type of white blood cell, help the body remember invaders and destroy them.
One type of phagocyte is the neutrophil, which fights bacteria. Doctors usually run a lab test for this if a patient comes in with a bacterial infection. The results help the doctor determine whether the infection was caused by high amounts of neutrophils in the body. There are other types of phagocytes and they all contribute to helping the body respond to invaders.
On another note, there are two kinds of lymphocytes, B lymphocytes, and T lymphocytes. Lymphocytes begin in the bone marrow and either stay there and mature into B cells, or they travel to the thymus gland and mature into T cells. The B cells search for invaders in the body and send defenses to destroy them. Whereas, the T cells are the defenses that are sent to destroy the invaders based on the B cell findings.
B cells are also triggered to produce antibodies or immunoglobulins. These are proteins that lock onto specific antigens or germs. These antibodies keep a record of this antigen and are then left in our system, in case we have to fight off that same germ again.
This is essentially how immunizations work and how they prevent some diseases from developing. An immunization introduces the body to an antigen or germ in a way that does not get someone sick. However, it does trigger the production of antibodies that will protect the person if exposed to that germ again.
While antibodies can recognize an antigen and lock onto it, they cannot destroy the germ by itself, it needs help. That is when the job of T cells comes in. They destroy the antigens that are tagged by the infected or altered antibodies. T cells also signal other cells, like phagocytes, to do their jobs.
All of these cells and parts of the immune system provide the body with protection from viruses, diseases, and infections, and this protection is called immunity.
Now, if you want to dive deeper into how your immune system functions and how to keep it strong year-round, I highly recommend checking out my self-paced online course, The Immunity Project. Click here to register!