by Stacey Parla
Think of the human body as a fortress, a carefully constructed stronghold that can withstand forces big and small. Just like fortresses, our bodies are complex and sturdy structures that protect us from the day-to-day rigors of the environment. And much like how fortresses have guardians at the gate, our bodies have a fierce line of defense as well: the immune system.
The immune system is one of the most intricate systems in our body, consisting of different organs, cells and proteins that work to fight off unwanted antigens and help keep us healthy. But as strong as our bodies are, the immune system is not completely impenetrable. However, it’s easy to be proactive and support our immune system. By giving the immune system what it needs to stay effective, we’ll be on our way to feeling our best.
Think of the human body as a fortress, a carefully constructed stronghold that can withstand forces big and small.
The immune system protects us using several lines of defense. On the frontlines are the mucous membranes and the skin, which physically prevents threatening substances from entering our body. If the foreign substance enters the body, the next line of defense is the innate immune response. This response provides defense against a wide range of unwanted compounds. Finally, if the innate response fails, the adaptive immune response is triggered. One of the ways in which white blood cells work (also called leukocytes) is by engulfing the unwanted compounds that can affect our immune system.
The leukocytes circulate through the body via lymphatic and blood vessels. Once germs are detected, it’s an extremely coordinated response: white blood cells are carried in the blood from the bone marrow to the lymphatic organs. Lymphocytes, which are one type of Leukocyte, then reproduce within the lymphatic organs and are sent in the blood to the site of the invasion. They produce antibodies, which lock onto the antigens to neutralize them.
A healthy lifestyle is the biggest key to a strong immune system. Start by not smoking, which introduces negative substances into your body and compromises your immune system. Eating well, exercising and getting plenty of sleep will also help keep your defenses up.
A healthy lifestyle is the biggest key to a strong immune system.
As we age, our immune system doesn’t respond as quickly. So it becomes even more important to make healthy lifestyle choices. It also doesn’t hurt to support immune health. From well-known vitamins to centuries-old traditional herbs, here are some of the most popular supplements associated with maintaining immune health.
Vitamin C is one of the leading vitamins for immune support.** It’s found in citrus fruits and vegetables such as bell peppers. This antioxidant vitamin is important for the functioning of white blood cells, which are vital components of the immune system.**
Not only does Zinc assist in the formation of DNA, the cell’s genetic material, it is also essential for cell division and growth.** It is also an antioxidant that supports immune system health.**
Native Americans have been using Echinacea, a purple cone flower, in their historical and traditional practices for generations.** Echinacea has been traditionally used for a variety of reasons, including for immune health, which dates back to the American Eclectics in the early part of the twentieth century.**
Echinacea is a great, holistic way to support immune system health.**
Probiotics are friendly bacteria that are found naturally in the digestive system. Did you know that a large percentage of the body’s immune system is located in the gastrointestinal tract? Probiotic supplements help supply the gut with beneficial bacteria to support healthy immune function.**