What is the immune system?

Many times we talk about improving our immunity or improving our immune system. But, what is the immune system? What is the immune system for and what is the immune system made up of?

Everyone of us are born with a sophisticated immune system. Our immune system work effectively to protect us against invaders such as bacteria and viruses. They are like our own army and every army is equipped with the same basic function. However, depending on the training and experiences that the soldiers have and the nourishment received by the soliders, the army can grow to be stronger or weaker. A weakened immune system lead to onset of diseases. Hence, it is vital that we protect our immune system.

A healthy immune system can effectively carry out the function of defense, cleanse and repair.

  1. Defense- protect our body against invaders
  2. Cleanse- expelling out the virus, bacteria, toxins and dead cells out of our body.For example the act of coughing is actually our body natural response to expel out invaders.
  3. Repair- restoring the damaged cells back to healthy state

Every minute every second our immune system is protecting us, otherwise even a speck of dust might kill us. It is such a sophisticated and amazing system that today scientists are still researching on it. No medication or any other thing is as powerful as our immune system in eradicating viruses.

Let’s take a look at what is the immune system made up of. Some people think that the immune system is an organ or one single part of the body. It is not. The immune system is actually made up of a few organs, many different cells all working seamlessly together to carry out the 3 functions as mentioned above.

There is actually two layer of defense. The first layer of defense is our skin. The act of perspiration, tears and secretion of sebum is actually our skin trying to trap and kill the invaders.

The second layer is our lymphatic system.

  • Lymph nodes-sometimes when we are sick, our lymph nodes will swell. It actually means that our immune system is busy fighting the infection. Lymph nodes are places where white blood cells gather to fight the infection. It also drains and filter the lymph fluid of foreign invaders.
  • Appendix-Often people think that the appendix plays an unimportant role. However, it is actual vital to the immune system. It helps in B cell maturation and the production of antibody. It also produces the molecules that drives the white blood cells to various parts of body and inform the white blood cells when there are invaders in the digestive tracts. It also protects and supports the gut flora while supressing any undesirable antibody responses.
  • Bone marrow- produces red blood cells and white blood cells
  • Tonsils & adenoids- this organs are often deem as unnecessary and serves no purpose and are often removed by people. However, they actually serve the function of protecting against invasion via the nose and the mouth.
  • Thymus-stimulates the production of disease fighting T cells and secretes immune-regulating hormones. Thymus will shrink as we age.
  • Spleen- serves the function of filter for our blood and informs the B cells to produce antibodies
  • Peyer’s patch-protect against foreign invaders in the intestines

White Blood Cells

In the immune system (army), the white blood cells are the soldiers. White blood cells are mainly made up of B cells, T cells, phagocytes and granulocytes. They all serves different purposes.

B cells produces specific antibodies that are tailored to various invaders. Some of the B cells will become memory cells and if the same invaders or virus attack again, the memory cells is able to identify and send the specific antibodies to fight it.

T cells or Helper T cells target any invaders. They activate the T killer cells also know as cytotoic cells and B cells to kill the invaders or cells that are infected.

Phagocytes and granulocytes engulf and eat the enemy cells.

This cute little diagram sums it up.

We have seen the importance of the immune system, hence it is critical that we keep our immune system in a healthy state. A malfunctioned immune system will bring about many diseases. The immune system protects us naturally without any harmful side effects which no drugs can achieve.

So how do we keep our immune system in the prime state? How do we boost our immunity naturally? We will talk about this in another post.



2 thoughts on “What is the immune system?

  1. This is quite a comprehensive description of the immune system. It is very descriptive and in simple terms. There are things I did not even know were part of the immune system. We have a tonsils problem in my family and I have always been reluctant to have them taken out, and I am glad i did not. Thanks for helping me support my decision. I now know where to refer anyone who asks me about the immune system.

    1. Glad that you find it easy to comprehend. I have a girl who has tonsils issue as well and I too am not keen to have the tonsils taken out. Do try getting off dairy. It helps with the tonsils issue for my child and try to sleep on the side instead of facing up. Will have a post on tonsils later on. Thanks!

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