Revealing – Know How Much Of Your Immune System Is In Your Gut?
Now, more than any other time, it’s important to know about the ‘natural’ immune system. Would it surprise you to learn how much of your immune system is in your gut?
On the back of Covid-19, the infection with coronavirus, everyone’s thinking and talking about the immune system. What exactly is it and which parts of your body make up your natural defence network?
And why is it so important? To help clear this up, here are some facts about your immune system.
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About the Immune System
Your immune system is your body’s natural defence system. It’s present from the time you are born in a very immature state but develops very quickly as you grow. Here are a few more facts about your immune system:
- When it is working ok – you don’t notice it. But any abnormality in the system puts you at risk of infections and other health problems.
- Boosting your natural immune system doesn’t usually happen overnight.
- A good body defence system needs more than healthy food alone.
- Things that impair the immune system –
◾Lack of sleep
◾Excess Sugar consumption
◾Pollution in the environment
◾Medication. All these elements can contribute to disabling the natural immune system from working as it should.
Elements of the Immune System
Your immune system is not one organ in the body but a complex system of special organs, cells and chemicals.
White blood cells, antibodies, the complement system, the lymphatic system – the lymphatic system is made up of the thymus, spleen and lymph nodes; and the bone marrow.
Looking at these elements in a little detail:
- White blood cells make up a part of your bloodstream and they fight disease-causing germs.
- The body makes antibodies to help fight germs or toxic substances.
- The complement system is made of proteins that help the antibodies fight disease-causing germs and elements/toxic substances etc.
- The spleen and thymus are organs that make special cells that fight infection.
- The spleen is usually located in the upper part of the left side of the abdomen and is also a critical part of the immune system.
- In the spleen, antibodies and infection-fighting cells are formed, while old or dead red blood cells are removed from the blood circulation.
- The thymus is a little known organ that makes up part of the immune system.
- It is located within the chest, behind the breast bone and present from birth.
- As we grow older, the thymus shrinks but before it does, it has already contributed immensely to developing T cells (also known as T-lymphocytes or Thymus cells), which are types of white blood cells instrumental to the immune system.
- The lymphatic system deals with the lymph glands, the tubes that connect them, fluid that removes diseased or toxic cells and white cells.
- In addition to lymph nodes/glands, the thymus and spleen also make up the lymphatic system.
- And the bone marrow is the spongy bit of tissue inside the bones which creates blood cells – making them a major element of the immune system.
- Other parts of the body also play a part in the body’s defence network including your skin, lungs and digestive tract.
If you can imagine anything that disrupts these elements, that will affect the complex system of your body’s defence.
Natural Defence in Your Stomach and Bowels?
It sounds strange but a good portion of your immune system lives in your digestive tract.
Technically this begins in your mouth, with a length of tissue that includes your food pipe or gullet, then your stomach, bowels (small and large) and your anus. In addition, there are other organs such as the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and appendix which make up the digestive tract.
In some way, all these organs have something to do with processing and digesting food that passes through your body.
But they are also a rich source of cells that make up your natural defence, too. Contrary to expectations that the immune system is limited to your blood – the digestive tract plays a huge role.
First, some cells in the lining of the gut are responsible for making and producing large amounts of antibodies and other chemicals which stimulate other parts of the body’s defence network.
Next, there are several cells in the gut whose different roles contribute to the way the system works.
Some are like scavengers, fighting against toxic or foreign cells and neutralising them before helping to rid them from the body.
Other cells behave like detectives, identifying abnormal cells so the scavenger cells can destroy them.
Some cells provide a physical barrier to separate some types of bugs lying inside the intestine from the sterile tissue further within.
Do I need an Immune System Booster?
We are still learning a lot about Coronavirus and the 2019 global pandemic. One of the keys to overcoming the infection is maintaining a strong defence network.
Among the best ways to do that is to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, which contain antioxidants and other nutrients that may help your immune system stay strong.
Antioxidants can help clear the body of free radicals, which are molecules that can harm cells and can also contribute to the development of conditions like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. They also help reduce inflammation, which can also have a damaging effect on the body.
You can find antioxidants in a number of plant-based foods, such as red wine, dark chocolate, berries, and tomatoes. Learn how to balance their use here.
Effective Immune Boosters
You can maintain strong immunity with:
- a healthy diet (adding superfoods and herbs to your diet helps)
- get regular exercise to improve your general health and fitness and
- get enough sleep
- reducing alcohol and caffeine consumption
- a whole-body wellness programme
- massaging your lymph nodes
- sitting in a sauna or steam room
- using a facial steamer
- washing your hands regularly
And here’s something else you can do to boost your immune system and help protect against the virus.
What about Immune Supplements?
One of the best ways to do this is with an immune-boosting supplement.
Coronavirus is a virus that targets the immune system, so taking an immune-boosting supplement can help you to fight back against the virus and support your natural defences.
One of the ways we can help our body build this network is by regularly taking a good quality multi-vitamin.
A good multi-vitamin will provide you with all the nutrients your body needs to build a strong immune system. It’s also a great way to get your five a day.
You can take a multi-vitamin as a pill or add it to your food or beverage of choice.
Regardless of where they are, cells of your body’s defence system a critical role in protecting your body against viruses, bacteria and other foreign invaders.
They have special powers to recognise and destroy foreign matter that tries to get inside your body.
Even more, they remove dead or injured cells with their inbuilt repair system. Our recommendation? Reward your body – start by practising any of our suggestions to boost the immune system today.
Did you want to learn more about how to boost your immune system? Ask here.
Editing by AskAwayHealth Team
All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising Medical Practitioners on a wide range of health care conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality health care. The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified health care practitioner.
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