Your first line of defence

Your first line of defence

Your immune system is your body's most important weapon against infection - it’s what protects you from deadly infections.

The intricate biological defence mechanism that protects your body from harmful invaders - and there's a lot we can do to help our immune systems in return.

Your immune system is like an army with two divisions, innate and adaptive immunity. Each division has its own group of specialized cells that help fight off infection or disease in your body.

The innate immune system is the first line of defence, it's made up of cells like macrophages and neutrophils.

They patrol the bloodstream, on the lookout for anything that shouldn't be there.

They neutralize the threat by engulfing it like Pac Man spraying deadly chemicals or suicidally expelling their DNA and throwing around the invader. 

The adaptive immune system is like the Special Forces of our bodies overall immune system, and they have been trained to fight specific enemies.

B cells are the immune system's soldiers, making Y shaped proteins called antibodies that neutralize invaders, or prepare for attack from another part of the immune system. Then there is T-cell activity; these carry out coordinated attacks on infected cells. 

Killer T cells strike them down for good, as if they are trained soldiers.

To destroy the enemy, helper T cells call in their chemical messengers - cytokines - as back-up.

When we encounter a disease for the first time, it takes a while for our adaptive immune system to learn how to fight it. However, once they do there is no stopping them! It memorises its response and this memory enables a quick response for future infections from the same disease; a response that can even neutralize an infection before you even notice it's happened.

This is the reasoning behind vaccines, and the reason why you only get diseases like chickenpox once. 

Your immune system is so efficient that most of the time, you don't even notice it.

But as we age our defences become weaker and more susceptible to infection. Eventually, this decline happens to all of us, but lifestyle factors, such as smoking, inactivity and obesity, can accelerate immune potency.

Your gut bacteria is another key factor in your immune system. Poor gut health has been found to contribute towards premature aging and a healthy microbiome having opposite effects - evidenced to reduce immune age. 

By eating a very rich diet in fibre plant matter and fermented foods to help maintain a healthy community of gut bacteria, your body has this highly evolved intricate defence system that does an amazing job of fighting off disease even into old age, but only if you look after it. 

Exercise is also a major factor is maintaining a healthy immune system so if you’ve been less active than usual lately see this as a wakeup call.

It's never too early to start looking after your immune system - it’s a no brainer - a walk in the park is all that it takes!

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