How to strengthen the immune defense

THE IMMUNE SYSTEM

The immune system represents the best fortress against external threats - such as viruses, bacteria, parasites - but also against the internal ones - such as crazy cells (tumor cells) or malfunctioning cells. In order to fulfil its protective task, the immune system can count on different organs, tissues, cellular types and glycoprotein; all these elements compose a sort of “army” designated to activate and attack whatever is a potential threat for the organism.

If it wasn’t for the immune system, nobody would live long.

 

 

HOW IS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM ORGANISED?

Different organs contribute to the production of antibodies and other cells of the immune system, each one of them is specialized in the production of specific antibodies or it contributes to their defense function.

  1. The lymph nodes are particular glands, also called lymphatic glands, that have the role of producing lymphocytes (commonly called white blood cells), release them directly in the lymphatic vessels and from here to the bloodstream. Among these glands, the most important one is definitely the thymus, located in the centre of the chest.
  2. The spleen is located in the left side of the abdomen. This organ works as a meeting point for those organisms, carried by the lymphocytes, that need to be expelled from the body.
  3. Bone Marrow: most of the white blood cells are produced here. From this point they are then carried to the lymphatic glands to reach maturation. Among these glands, the Thymus (that’s where the name lymphocytes T comes from) carries out the most important action.
  4. Types of Lymphocytes: lymphocytes are divided into two macro-categories: B lymphocytes, formed inside the bone marrow of our bones, and T lymphocytes, formed in bone marrow but then moved inside the thymus. B cells produce antibodies that intercept pathogenic agents, carrying them. Instead, T lymphocytes have coordination and specific action roles. From one side they help with the production of B cells, from the other side they get rid of damaged or altered cells. They also neutralize infected cells that are potentially dangerous.

 

 

TYPES OF IMMUNE SYSTEM

There are two types of immune system: innate or a-specific immunity and specific or adaptive immunity.

Innate or a-specific immunity, also called natural immunity, consists of mechanisms that are there before the entrance of the unknown agent; these mechanisms are capable of a rapid response against the unknown agent that is recognised as a threat. It’s congenit and it includes barriers (skin, mucous membranes that are in contact with the outside such as mouth, nose and ears and secretions such as saliva or sweat) and cells and proteins that work as regulators and mediators of the infiammatory response.If the aggressive agent overcomes these barriers, the organism reacts producing cells and substances that are used to face and repair the damage.

Specific or adaptive immunity, also called acquired immunity, is instead developed after you’re born, during the first year of life, and it is boosted and “educated” in response to infections and encounters with unknown agents.

Since it is a response tailor made for the specific unknown agent, specific or adaptive immunity is way faster than the innate one, it can be strengthened with vaccines and has mechanisms made to keep track of the agents it meets and their specific response. It’s a type of defense focused on specific antigens, the substances that our organism classifies as extraneous. The response of specific or adaptive immunity is made possible thanks to lymphocytes T and B.

T lymphocytes (T cells) mature inside the thymus and then they circulate in the bloodstream and in the lymphatic system, recognising cells of our organism as “self” and not attacking them. T lymphocytes are activated when the receptors on their surface recognise antigens (unknown agents) that are specific for that receptor. There are different T lymphocytes: the two biggest populations are T-helper and T-cytotoxic. In order to recognise an antigen, T-helper cells need to have contact with other cells that present that antigen (dendritic cells, macrophages, B lymphocytes). Macrophages, the “garbage collectors'' of our organism, expose fragments of antigens on their surface after they ate and digested an unknown structure, in order to show them to T-helper cells; if T-helper lymphocytes recognise these structures, cytokines are activated. Cytokines help other T-lymphocytes to eliminate the extraneous cells that attacked the organism (cytotoxic activity).

B lymphocytes, or B-cells, mature inside bone marrow and move towards lymph nodes, small organs located in different points of the human body. B lymphocytes are activated with an antigen too. Stimulated by the antigen, B lymphocytes reproduce different times, forming several identical daughter cells, called clones. Part of these clones differentiate into plasma cells, which are the parents of specific antibodies that work against a particular invader. The rest of the clones have the job of memory cells to face potential future aggression (from the same antigen) quicker. A schield is the perfect metaphor of the immune system, that protects the human organism from the attacks of aggressive agents.

An efficient immune system is perfectly capable of protecting the organism from aggressions. Tumor cells present different features from the ones of healthy cells of the organism. Tumor cells present antigens and are potentially capable of activating a response from an efficient immune system. The ability of the organism of recognising and destroying tumor cells is reduced in case of immunosuppression.

Despite the reaction of our defense system, tumor cells can activate mechanisms through which they bypass the control of the immune system. After an initial phase in which the immune response is capable of removing a great part of tumor cells, later those survivor cancer cells mutate and become resistant to the immune system.This is a long process that can develop after many tears. Mutated cells deceive the immune system and, since they can act undisturbed, they spread around uncontrolled and provoke clinically appreciable tumors that can be diagnosed. 


WHAT WEAKENS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM

Today the main causes of the weakening of immune defenses are: stress, some pathologies (ex: a cold), the excessive use of antibiotics, several environmental factors (ex: cold, humidity, changing of seasons, excessive sun exposure), an incorrect diet, inadequate rest, sedentary lifestyle, physical fatigue and advancing age.

Let’s take a look at the causes:

  1. Stress: all the conditions that cause psycho-physical stress weaken the immune system, since they increase its workload. To make a comparison, it’s like stress strains the immune system by giving it several tasks and, as a consequence, the immune system becomes less efficient.
  2. Excessive use of antibiotics: we have particular bacteria living in our intestine, with which we have a symbiotic relationship: in exchange for the hospitality given by the intestine, these bacteria - that are collectively called bacterial flora - guarantee several services, such as: weakening the proliferation of potentially pathogenic organisms that are normally present in some districts of our body (ex: Candida Albicans) and modulate the intestinal immune system. Excessive use of antibiotics can deplete bacterial flora, which, at that point, is not capable of doing its work.

It follows that potentially pathogenic microorganisms such as Candida albicans can prevail and proliferate, so immune defenses of the intestine lose their effectiveness.

  1. Sedentary lifestyle and inadequate rest: scientific studies demonstrated that sedentary people and those who sleep a few hours get sick more easily than people who conduct an active life and those who sleep 7-8 hours per night. Hence, scientists concluded that there is a link between weakening of the immune system and factors such as sedentary lifestyle and insufficient night sleep.
  2. Inadequate diet: for instance, an inadequate protein intake compromises the production and functionality of those glycoprotein that are a fundamental part of the immune system.
  3. Advancing age: ageing makes the immune organs that produce white cells less effective. Unfortunately it’s a fate that it’s up to the human organism and any radical opposition it’s impossible.

 

HOW TO STRENGTHEN THE IMMUNE SYSTEM

According to the unanimous opinion of the medical-scientific community, the best way to reinforce immune defenses is adopting a healthy lifestyle. After all, it’s a fact that, with the adoption of a healthy lifestyle, any organ, apparate and system of the human body - immune system included- works better and more effectively.

The strengthening of the immune defenses, through a healthy lifestyle, is based on some cornerstones, that are:

  1. Appropriate diet. The habit of consuming fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and yogurt, together with the consumption of prebiotics and probiotics (milk enzymes) and the habit of restricting the consumption of foods that are full of saturated fats and eating vitamins, minerals and fibers, are the bases of a correct nutrition as well as useful to reinvigorate the immune system.
  2. Physical activity. Sport helps potentiate the immune system as long as it’s practiced in an intelligent, balanced way and without excess. For what concerns the benefits of sports on the immune system, interesting scientific studies demonstrated that regular exercise improves the function of neutrophils, a type of white cells.
  3. Keeping your weight normal. This aspect is strictly connected to a balanced nutrition and regular exercise
  4. Restrict alcoholic beverages. The abuse of alcohol harms your health and has a depressive effect on the immune system.
  5. Do not smoke. Anyone has heard about the countless damages of cigarette smoke; among these, there is the weakening of immune defenses.
  6. Sufficient sleep.During your night sleep, the human body elaborates protein introduced through diet and uses them to fight potential pathogens. Those who don’t sleep enough, can’t use proteins for the above mentioned purpose, therefore they are more vulnerable to infections.
  7. Maintain your blood pressure normal.
  8. Practice the norms of correct hygiene.

AND IF THIS IS NOT ENOUGH?

Don’t worry, if correcting your diet habits, sports ecc. is not enough to revive immune defenses, you can take advantage of other ways.

  1. Natural resources provide for real support to the immune system, for example the variegated group of medical plants given by our planet that has an immunostimulating action, particularly the Echinacea and Astragalo.
  2. Immune defenses benefit from vitamin C. There are great supplements of this vitamin and other elements that implement the immune response.
  3. Meditation or similar activities (yoga,Reiki ecc…); they let your mind breathe and clean it from the inside, so that the person and the organism are stronger against attacks from the external but also from emotional and psychological attacks, since the human body is not only a group of working cells but it responds to our mindset and to the state of inner wellness, in peace with the context we live in.
  4. Since ancient times, when there was any health issue, people used to move where air was cleaner and the contact with a gentle nature and mild weather supported the recovery. Thinking of living in places that support health rather than sickness, or at least using some time to stay or walk there, will be a great choice.
  5. Artificial caves (or room) made of salt, that create a marine weather and where you can relax for 30-45 minutes, better if in a bathing suit as you will expose more skin

The fundamental is simple: diffusing very small particles of sodium chlorure in the air and elements of marine salt or halite: “Inhaled salt is capable of making the small cilia of our airways work better: with their movements, cilia stop the entrance  of germs and polluting substances, purifying the respiratory tree and improving resistance toward viral and infectious diseases, reducing sensibility toward the action of allergenes, toxins and pollutant” explains Carlo Di Stanislao from the University of Aquila, dermatologist, allergist, immunologist and expert of non-conventional medicines.

  1. Garlic and brewer’s yeast, if consumed uncooked, will help.
  2. Assume a few grams of spices a day to fuel yourself with antioxidants that will reinforce the immune system
  3. Don’t forget that dark chocolate with at least 72% of cocoa stimulates T lymphocytes production, that works against infections. The recommended dose, even if you’re following a diet, is 20-30 grams a day: a cure all to feel stronger and in a good mood.
  4. Homeopathic remedies can be another possibility to reinforce the immune response.
  5. Last but not least, give up on those negative thoughts that make you feel bad: find lectures, videos and blogs that help you do so, and if necessary consider psychotherapy as a way to reach a better health

CONCLUSION

Try to live the healthiest life possible, according to what represents our wellness and don’t forget to keep your mind far away from what makes it sick.

Goodbye everybody!

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