The immune system protects living beings from infectious agents in the environment that are able to breach the physical barriers of the body such as the skin, mucosal lining of the digestive tract, or the mucosal lining of the airways. It is composed mainly of white blood cells, the thymus, the spleen, the lymphatic system, and all the chemical messengers all working in cohesion to properly defend the body. There are a number of different types of white blood cells and immune cells that are activated in response to different types of infectious agents that come in contact with the body.
The way cells are activated is based upon a multitude of inflammatory chemical messengers or signals, meaning that the immune response in itself is inherently inflammatory in nature. The importance of this will become apparent later. The immune system has two distinct systems, the innate and adaptive immune systems, respectively providing immediate responses to microbes and long term protection from infectious agents that the body has previously been exposed to. They communicate and work in unison to continuously thwart the efforts of any microbes that may be trying to find a new home in the body.The innate immune system provides immediate and nonspecific responses to an infectious agent (bacteria, virus, cancer cell etc.) that may make its way into the body and will, in turn, activate the adaptive immune system which takes a bit longer to kick in.
Nonspecific responses mean that, regardless of what pathogen is presented to the immune system, it will launch a massive inflammatory chemical cascade activating white blood cells (T cells) and further immune-related chemical responses, bringing all the attention of the immune system to the area under assault. In this way, it provides a quick and effective measure at slowing down the infectious agent from entering the body regardless of how or what it is trying to do to the body. The adaptive immune system then takes over and eventually signals specialized cells in the immune system that recognize patterns and chemical markers of the infectious agents. This allows the immune system to specifically react and attack the infectious agent that is attacking the system. Over time the adaptive immune system builds itself up, even more, becoming extremely effective and specific in its ability to produce a response against the same microbes the next time they may get into the system.
This is how immunity is established naturally against things like chickenpox, the flu, and vaccinations. Sometimes the immune system can go a bit haywire and will start recognizing normal or healthy cells in the body as a threat. It can even begin to miss infectious agents that have hid inside cells leading to autoimmune disease and immunodeficiency. Thankfully, the development of hygiene and modernized medicine has prevented many people from being as susceptible to infectious diseases as they once were, yet it still takes a great deal of work and mindfulness to keep the immune system in a healthy, balanced state. This is why providing proper immune support as part of a daily routine is extremely important. Things, like eating a balanced diet rich in organic vegetables, drinking lots of water, getting adequate amounts of sunshine, lots of sleep, and some exercise, will do wonders for one’s immune system. Of course with the advance of medical care and access to alternative forms of treatment,
people now have a wide range of types of supplements and specialized products to choose from to help boost the immune system in addition to easy and valuable lifestyle changes.