What is your Immune System?
Your immune system is your defense system that consists of many biological structures and processes to protect against disease. It is like a small police force constantly patrolling each organ and tissue in the body. Your immune system works together with your lymphatic system for production of lymphocytes and the circulatory system for transportation.
The thymus gland is situated in the neck above the heart. It produces hormones, T cells (your fighting immune cells) and contains glandular tissues. Over time the thymus becomes weak and it struggles to produce the T cells you need to defeat viruses, bacteria, and other intruders. Often it needs additional targeted nutritional support to do its job effectively.
The lymphatic system is a crucial part of the immune system. It comprises of ducts, nodes, and organs and transports a watery fluid called lymph. Lymph distributes immune cells and other substances in the body. The lymphatic system performs several functions, it removes the interstitial fluid from tissues, absorbs and transports fatty acids and performs transportation of white blood cells to and from between lymph nodes into the bones. If your lymphatic system becomes clogged or sluggish bad things happen! The key is to keep it draining and moving.
Bone marrow is the soft, spongy tissue found in the center of some bones in the body, including hip and thigh bones. It produces immature stem cells called B cells. Redbone marrow and yellow bone marrow are the two types of bone marrow. Bone marrow is responsible for the generation of healthy blood cells. Often we forget this role of our bones, mistakenly thinking of our bones solely as a skeleton that holds us up! Not true. Our bones are a critical component of our immune and circulatory systems and we must nourish them optimally if we want a healthy immune system.
Peyers patches (small intestine)
In the ileum of the small intestine are small masses of lymphatic tissue known as ‘peyers patches’. They are an important part of immune system. They monitor bacteria and prevent the growth of pathogens in intestines. These mighty little guys devour and kill ‘bad guys’, rendering them harmless to our body.
Nutrition and Immune System Health
A healthy immune system is unachievable without a good nutrition – it needs nutrients to work properly. All the organs in the immune system need to be healthy in order to defend against diseases, therefore, consuming the right food and obtaining balanced nutrition is the key to a healthy immune system. Building immune cells can be aided by eating foods containing Vitamin E and C, probiotics, beta-glucan, soluble fibers and catechins. They help maintain balance in your gut and they help your immune system defend against pathogens. Catechins that improve immune system can be found in fava beans while mushrooms and seafood can provide beta-glucans and selenium respectively. For optimal dietary intake we are a fan of the Blood Type Diet – something we will discuss in an upcoming blog.
While eating the right foods is critical, eating the right foods alone is not enough to achieve optimal immune health. It’s virtually impossible to get all the nutrients you need from food alone today. We live in a toxic world that places additional nutritional burdens on our bodies, additionally we eat foods that are nutritionally poor. Given this it is key to supplement your diet with high quality nutritionals.
Sugar - A Danger to Your Immune System
Sugar contains glucose and fructose. While glucose is metabolized nearly all organs, fructose is metabolized by the liver only. The consumption of sugar in excess causes glucose to be metabolized, but the fructose is partly metabolized in the liver and the rest converts into fats. Some of this fat is transported to different organs and some of it is deposited in the liver. This deposition gradually turns dangerous and causes Fatty Liver Disease. Given that all of your blood is filtered through your liver every 5 minutes optimal liver health is essential to good health.
Additionally, when sugar is present your immune system slows down! And worse, it can take hours for the body to come back into balance – up to 72 hours for those with compromised sugar handling capacities. That little sugary treat has lasting negative effects beyond weight gain.
Perfect Immune Health - A Holistic Approach.
While most of us think a good diet and balanced nutrition will create a healthy immune system, there is much more going on here. For e.g. researches have shown that increased laughter results in the production of cells that are essential in combatting diseases. Moreover, individuals who experience prolonged stress are more prone to diseases. Your immune system is a complex system that thrives when it is nourished holistically; body, mind, and spirit.