The Immune System is a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body from infection. The human body provides an ideal environment for many microbes, such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites, and the immune system prevents and limits their entry and growth to maintain optimal health.
Cause of Immune Deficiencies and Human Diseases
The harmful free radicals associated with cell damage within the biochemistry are the species such as superoxide (a compound containing the highly reactive and extremely toxic oxygen radical O2−), hydrogen peroxide (a chemical compound with the formula H 2O 2), hypohalous acid (any oxyacid of a halogen of general formula HOX.), and hydroxyl radicals (hydroxyl radicals, •HO, are the neutral form of the hydroxide ion). Cells are continually subject to attack by numerous oxidative stress-inducing factors including: heat shock, heme (a deep red, iron-containing compound, C34H32FeN4O4, that constitutes the non-protein component of hemoglobin and certain other proteins.) accumulation, hypoxia (adequate oxygen supply), UV radiation, nitric oxide, cytokines (a number of substances, such as interferon, interleukin, and growth factors, that are secreted by certain cells of the immune system and have an effect on other cells), and heavy metals. The constant assault respirated on our DNA by reactive oxygen species can lead to many chronic and acute health challenges and diseases.
Other Causes of Immune Deficiency
- Poor Diet: Mineral and Vitamin Deficient Foods
- Too Many Sugars/Carbohydrates
- Weak Stomach Acids
- Pathogens including Bacteria, Candida, Fungus, Parasites
- Dehydration and Electrolyte Imbalance
- Toxins including: Poor Water Quality, Air Pollution, Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals
Immune System Imbalances
Many chronic and acute Immune System Imbalances can cause Conditions such as: Cancer, Heart Disease, Diabetes, Chronic Fatigue, Digestive Issues, Thyroid Issues, Arthritis, Herpes and Shingles Viruses, and many more problematic body conditions.
Immune Tolerance is the prevention of an immune response against a particular antigen (a toxin or other foreign substance that induces an immune response in the body, especially the production of antibodies). For instance, the immune system is generally tolerant of self-antigens, so it does not usually attack the body’s own cells, tissues, and organs.
When tolerance is lost, disorders like autoimmune disease or food allergy may occur.
When adaptive immune cells mature, there are several checkpoints in place to eliminate autoreactive cells. If a B cell produces antibodies that strongly recognize host cells, or if a T cell strongly recognizes self-antigen, they are deleted. Nevertheless, there are autoreactive immune cells present in healthy individuals. Autoreactive immune cells are kept in a non-reactive, or anergic state. Even though they recognize the body’s own cells, they do not have the ability to react and cannot cause host damage.
Regulatory immune cells circulate throughout the body to maintain tolerance. Besides limiting autoreactive cells, regulatory cells are important for turning an immune response off after the problem is resolved. They can act as drains, depleting areas of essential nutrients that surrounding immune cells need for activation or survival.
Some locations in the body are called immunologically privileged sites. These areas, like the eye and brain, do not typically elicit strong immune responses. Part of this is because of physical barriers, like the blood-brain barrier, that limit the degree to which immune cells may enter. These areas also may express higher levels of suppressive cytokines to prevent a robust immune response.
Immune and Lymphatic System Physiology
One of the primary functions of the lymphatic system is the movement of interstitial (tissue) fluid from the tissues to the circulatory system. Like the veins of the circulatory system, lymphatic capillaries and vessels move lymph with very little pressure to help with circulation. To help move lymph towards the lymphatic ducts, there is a series of many one-way check valves found throughout the lymphatic vessels. These check valves allow lymph to move toward the lymphatic ducts and close when lymph attempts to flow away from the ducts. In the limbs, skeletal muscle contraction squeezes the walls of lymphatic vessels to push lymph through the valves and towards the thorax. In the trunk, the diaphragm pushes down into the abdomen during inhalation. This increased abdominal pressure pushes lymph into the less pressurized thorax. The pressure gradient reverses during exhalation, but the check valves prevent lymph from being pushed backwards.
Transport of Fatty Acids
Another major function of the lymphatic system is the transportation of fatty acids from the digestive system. The digestive system breaks large macromolecules of carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids into smaller nutrients that can be absorbed through the villi of the intestinal wall. Most of these nutrients are absorbed directly into the bloodstream, but most fatty acids, the building blocks of fats, are absorbed through the lymphatic system.
In the villi of the small intestine are lymphatic capillaries called lacteals. Lacteals are able to absorb fatty acids from the intestinal epithelium and transport them along with lymph. The fatty acids turn the lymph into a white, milky substance called chyle. Chyle is transported through lymphatic vessels to the thoracic duct where it enters the bloodstream and travels to the liver to be metabolized.
Types of Immunity
The body employs many different types of immunity to protect itself from infection from a seemingly endless supply of pathogens (a bacterium, virus, or other microorganism that can cause disease). These defenses may be external and prevent pathogens from entering the body. Conversely, internal defenses fight pathogens that have already entered the body. Among the internal defenses, some are specific to only one pathogen or may be innate and defend against many pathogens. Some of these specific defenses can be acquired to preemptively prevent an infection before a pathogen enters the body.
The body has many innate ways to defend itself against a broad spectrum of pathogens. These defenses may be external or internal defenses. The internal defenses include fever, inflammation, natural killer cells, and phagocytes (a type of cell within the body capable of engulfing and absorbing bacteria and other small cells and particles).
The coverings and linings of the body constantly prevent infections before they begin by barring pathogens from entering the body. Epidermal cells are constantly growing, dying, and shedding to provide a renewed physical barrier to pathogens. Secretions like sebum (an oily secretion of the sebaceous glands), cerumen (earwax), mucus, tears, and saliva are used to trap, move, and sometimes even kill bacteria that settle on or in the body.
Stomach acid acts as a chemical barrier to kill microbes found on food entering the body. Urine and acidic vaginal secretions also help to kill and remove pathogens that attempt to enter the body. Finally, the flora of naturally occurring beneficial bacteria that live on and in our bodies provide a layer of protection from harmful microbes that would seek to colonize our bodies for themselves.
In response to an infection, the body may start a fever by raising its internal temperature out of its normal homeostatic range. Fevers help to speed up the body’s response system to an infection while at the same time slowing the reproduction of the pathogen.
The body may also start an inflammation in a region of the body to stop the spread of the infection. Inflammations are the result of a localized vasodilation (the dilatation of blood vessels, which decreases blood pressure) that allows extra blood to flow into the infected region. The extra blood flow speeds the arrival of leukocytes (a colorless cell that circulates in the blood and body fluids and is involved in counteracting foreign substances and disease) to fight the infection. The enlarged blood vessel allows fluid and cells to leak out of the blood vessel to cause swelling and the movement of leukocytes into the tissue to fight the infection.
Natural Killer Cells
Natural Killer (NK) Cells are special lymphocytes that are able to recognize and kill virus-infected cells and tumor cells. NK cells check the surface markers on the surface of the body’s cells, looking for cells that are lacking the correct number of markers due to disease. The NK cells then kill these cells before they can spread infection or cancer.
The term phagocyte means “eating cell” and refers to a group of cell types including neutrophils (white blood cell) and macrophages (a large phagocytic cell found in stationary form in the tissues or as a mobile white blood cell). A phagocyte engulfs pathogens with its cell membrane before using digestive enzymes to kill and dissolve the cell into its chemical parts. Phagocytes are able to recognize and consume many different types of cells, including dead or damaged body cells.
Cell-Mediated Specific Immunity
When a pathogen infects the body, it often encounters macrophages and dendritic cells (act as messengers between the innate and the adaptive immune systems) of the innate immune system. These cells can become antigen-presenting cells (APC’s) by consuming and processing pathogenic antigens. The APC’s travel into the lymphatic system carrying these antigens which induces an immune system response by the T and B cells.*
* B cells are lymphocytes that are found in lymphatic tissues of the body that produce antibodies to fight pathogens (instead of traveling through the body themselves).
Inactive T cells are found in lymphatic tissue awaiting infection by a pathogen. Certain T cells have antigen receptors that recognize the pathogen but do not reproduce until they are triggered by an APC. The activated T cell begins reproducing very quickly to form an army of active T cells that spread through the body and fight the pathogen. Cytotoxic (cell-killing) T cells directly attach to and kill pathogens and virus-infected cells using powerful toxins. Helper T cells assist in the immune response by stimulating the response of B cells and macrophages. After an infection has been fought off, memory T cells remain in the lymphatic tissue waiting for a new infection by cells presenting the same antigen. The response by memory T cells to the antigen is much faster than that of the inactive T cells that fought the first infection. The increase in T cell reaction speed leads to immunity—the reintroduction of the same pathogen is fought off so quickly that there are few or no symptoms. This immunity may last for years or even an entire lifetime.
Antibody-Mediated Specific Immunity
During an infection, the APC’s travel to the lymphatic system to stimulate T cells also stimulates B cells. B cells are lymphocytes that are found in lymphatic tissues of the body that produce antibodies to fight pathogens (instead of traveling through the body themselves). Once a B cell has been contacted by an APC, it processes the antigen to produce an MHC-antigen complex. Helper T cells present in the lymphatic system bind to the MHC-antigen complex to stimulate the B cell to become active. The active B cell begins to reproduce and produce 2 types of cells: plasma cells and memory B cells.
- Plasma cells. Plasma cells become antibody factories producing thousands of antibodies.
- Memory B cells. Memory B cells reside in the lymphatic system where they help to provide immunity by preparing for later infection by the same antigen-presenting pathogen.
Antibodies are proteins that are specific to and bind to a particular antigen on a cell or virus. Once antibodies have latched on to a cell or virus, they make it harder for their target to move, reproduce, and infect cells. Antibodies also make it easier and more appealing for phagocytes to consume the pathogen.
Under most circumstances, immunity is developed throughout a lifetime by the accumulation of memory T and B cells after an infection. There are a few ways that immunity can be acquired without exposure to a pathogen. Immunization is the process of introducing antigens from a virus or bacterium to the body so that memory T and B cells are produced to prevent an actual infection. Most immunizations involve the injection of bacteria or viruses that have been inactivated or weakened. Newborn infants can also acquire some temporary immunity from infection thanks to antibodies that are passed on from their mother. Some antibodies are able to cross the placenta from the mother’s blood and enter the infant’s bloodstream. Other antibodies are passed through breast milk to protect the infant. (Tim Taylor, Anatomy and Physiology Instructor)
The Immune and Endocrine Systems
The Immune System includes many organs within the human body including the Endocrine System. The Endocrine System is a group of specialized organs and body tissues whose primary functions are to produce, store and secrete hormones. The hormones produced by the Endocrine System have a great deal of influence over the body. Hormones are chemical messengers in the body; they transfer information and instructions from cell to cell. Hormones are responsible for and affect many bodily systems and processes including growth, tissue function, organ function, sensory perception, respiration, metabolism, and reproductive and sexual processes, among other vital processes. The primary glands that make up the human Endocrine System are the pituitary, parathyroid and adrenal glands.
Hormones from the endocrine organs are secreted directly into the bloodstream, where special proteins bind to them to keep the hormones intact as they travel throughout the body. The proteins also act as a reservoir, allowing only a small fraction of the hormone circulating in the blood to affect the target tissue. Specialized proteins in the target tissue, called receptors, bind with the hormones in the bloodstream, inducing chemical changes in response to the body’s needs.
Because the endocrine system plays a key role in many of the vital processes of the body, endocrinologists are often consulted by other specialists and physicians when evaluating or treating patients due to their vast knowledge of the hormonal system and its wide-ranging effects on the health of the patient
Individuals from all areas of life, every culture, all ages and every race can suffer from adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue occurs when the activity of the adrenal glands diminishes. The less function that is going on in the adrenal glands, the more organs and systems in the body are affected. Changes occur in carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, fluid and electrolyte balance, heart and cardiovascular system and sex drive.
The Lymphatic System is a network of tissues and organs that primarily consists of lymph vessels, lymph nodes and lymph (colorless fluid containing white blood cells. The tonsils, adenoids, spleen and thymus are all part of the lymphatic system. There are 600 to 700 lymph nodes in the human body that filter the lymph before it returns to the circulatory system
Too much or too little hormone can be harmful to the body, so hormone levels are regulated by a feedback mechanism. Feedback works like a household thermostat. When the heat inside a house falls, the thermostat responds by switching the furnace on, and when the temperature is too warm, the thermostat switches the furnace off.
Usually, the change that a hormone produces also serves to regulate that hormone’s secretion. For example, parathyroid hormone causes the body to increase the level of calcium in the blood. As calcium levels rise, the secretion of parathyroid hormone then decreases. This feedback mechanism allows for tight control over hormone levels, which are essential for ideal body function.
Other mechanisms may also influence feedback relationships. For example, if an individual becomes ill, the adrenal glands increase the secretions of certain hormones that help the body deal with the stress of illness. The adrenal glands work in connection with the pituitary gland and the brain to increase the body’s tolerance of these hormones in the blood, preventing the normal feedback mechanism from decreasing secretion levels until the illness is gone.
Key Antioxidants in the Body
Synergistic actions in scavenging free radicals are one of the keys to maintaining a healthy immune system. There has been growing evidence over the past three decades showing that malnutrition of protein, selenium, and zinc lowers the body’s defenses.
Potassium Deficiency and Its Importance (See Potassium Test)
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health, Potassium is a mineral that is needed for your body to work properly. It is a type of electrolyte. Your body needs potassium to:
- Build Proteins
- Break Down and Use Carbohydrates
- Build Muscle
- Maintain Normal Body Growth
- Control the Electrical Activity of the Heart
- Control the Acid-Base Balance
Electrolytes (See Electrolyte Product)
Electrolytes are substances that help conduct electricity in your body. Potassium is one of the most important electrolytes in the human body, with others including chloride, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and sodium. As an electrolyte, potassium is vital to the healthy functioning of all of your body’s cells, tissues and organs. It also helps to control the amount of water in your body and maintain a healthy blood pH level. As you lose electrolytes in your sweat, you should always obtain a source of these important minerals during or after a bout of intense physical activity.
Magnesium Deficiency (see Magnesium Test)
The National Institute of Health (NIH) presents the following fact sheet on Magnesium for Professionals – Reviewed November 4, 2013: Magnesium is a co-factor in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate diverse biochemical reactions in the body, including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation. Magnesium is required for energy production, oxidative phosphorylation (Phosphorylation turns many protein enzymes on and off, thereby altering their function and activity.), and glycolysis (the breakdown of glucose by enzymes, releasing energy and pyruvic acid). It contributes to the structural development of bone and is required for the synthesis of DNA, RNA, and the antioxidant glutathione. Magnesium also plays a role in the active transport of calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes, a process that is important to nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm. When the body is deficient of magnesium if effects the entire body and its functions.
Adrenal Fatigue (See Thyroid)
Individuals from all areas of life, every culture, all ages and every race can suffer from adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue occurs when the activity of the adrenal glands diminishes. The less function that is going on in the adrenal glands, the more organs and systems in the body are affected. Changes occur in carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, fluid and electrolyte balance, heart and cardiovascular system and sex drive. Listed below are some of the lifestyles that can attribute to adrenal fatigue:
How to Boost Your Immune System
Get Outdoors and Into the Sun. For twenty to thirty minutes daily, get direct and/or indirect sunlight. The best times are before 9:00am and after 3:00pm in the winter, or after 6:00pm in the summer. Allow the full-spectrum sunlight to enter your eyes by not wearing sunglasses during this time. The sun is most powerful immune system builder.
Consume Adequate Oxygen. Put yourself in or near oxygen-rich environments: oceans, forests, running streams, greenhouses-and learn to breathe deeply. Eat plenty of oxygen-rich green foods. If you are indoors for most of the day, purchase an oxygen–producing air purifier.
Drink Pure Water. The best water purification processes are distilled or molecule organized. Consume in ounces the amount equal to one – half your weight in pounds. Add safe, oxygen – enhancing products to your drinking water.
Eat More Of A Totally Vegan Diet that is comprised of 75 percent vegetables by volume. Sprouts and green vegetables are the most balanced and nourishing choices.
Drink Freshly-Made Beverages form sprouted green vegetables twice a day.
Use “Regular” Blue-Green Algae. Super blue-green algae or Hawaiian spirulina, along with chlorella, are high-concentrated foods that enhance immunity. (See Chorella product)
Reduce Consumption of Immune–Suppressing Ingredients. These include salt, refined sugars and flours, dairy products, vinegars, heated oils, food preservatives, additives, stabilizers, and food colorings.
Avoid Microwaved and Fried Food, which can suppress the immune system and lead to cancers and heart and circulatory disease.
Eliminate Alcohol and Drugs. Unless your prescriptions are absolutely essential to your survival, stop taking them. Alcohol and drugs do not mix, except to undermine our immune system.
Exercise Moderately. Engage in stretching, aerobics, and resistance exercises at least five times a week for thirty to sixty minutes a day.
Get Adequate Rest. Sleep and rest helps to recharge the immune system. As part of this strategy, rest the entire body once a week on a juice – and –water fast. This enables the immune system to do a weekly cleanup.
Maintaining a Positive Attitude is a key to having a belief system that supports immunity. Nature, color, sound, and laughter can positively affect the immune system.
Foods to Eat For a Strong Immune System
Locally Grown Organic Vegetables Appropriate for Your Nutritional Type
When it comes to fighting off pathogens, you simply can’t do any better than eating a variety of fresh, organic and preferably raw vegetables for the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes they contain. However, the amount and type of vegetables you should eat daily will depend on your nutritional type.
Kefir Products as well as other good fermented foods include natto, kimchee, miso, tempeh, pickles, sauerkraut, yogurt (watch out for sugar), and olives.
Raw Organic Eggs from Free-Range Chickens
Raw eggs are an inexpensive and amazing source of high-quality nutrients that many people are deficient in, especially high-quality protein and fat
Grass-Fed Beef or Organ Meats
This recommendation is only valid if you are a protein or mixed nutritional type as carb types really should not be eating beef. Grass-fed beef comes from cows that eat what they were meant to eat—grasses.
Blueberries and Raspberries rate very high in antioxidant capacity (ORAC of 6,520) compared to other fruits and vegetables. Wild blueberries in particular are potent immune boosters. They contain powerful phytochemicals, such as anthocyanin, which is the pigment that gives blueberries their color. And they are lower in sugar than many other fruits or grains.
Chlorella is a single-cell freshwater algae that acts as an efficient detoxification agent by binding to toxins, such as mercury, and carries them out of your system. It is the chlorophyll in chlorella that makes it so powerful. Chlorophyll helps you process more oxygen, cleanses your blood and promotes the growth and repair of your tissues.
Propolis is a bee resin and one of the most broad-spectrum antimicrobial compounds in the world, if not the broadest spectrum, according to master herbalist Donnie Yance. Propolis is also the richest of source caffeic acid and apigenin, two very important phenolic compounds that aid in immune response.
Green Tea and Matcha
- Green teas are rich in polyphenols, in the form of natural chemicals called catechins. The most powerful catechin in tea is epigallocatechin (EGCG), which was found in one study to be 25 to 100 times more potent than antioxidant vitamins C and E. And Matcha is more than 100 times as potent in EGCG as regular brewed green tea.
- Matcha is the most nutrient-rich green tea and comes in the form of a stone-ground powder, completely unfermented. The best Matcha comes from Japan and has up to seventeen times the antioxidants of wild blueberries, and seven times more than dark chocolate.
Tulsi Tea, coming from the holy basil herb, has been used for thousands of years in the Ayurvedic medicine of India. Not only is this tea loaded with antioxidants, but it has multiple positive health benefits, including supporting your immune health, memory, heart health and vision.
Herbs and Spices
Garlic, although not at the top of the ORAC chart (5,346), is incredibly beneficial to your immune system because it offers a triple-whammy: it’s antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal. You should be eating garlic every day. One of the best things about garlic is that bacteria, viruses, and yeast build up no resistance to it, unlike with synthetic antibiotics.
Immunity from common infections involves not only preventing pathogens from taking hold, but also moderating your immune response to invading pathogens. Complications arise when you experience an over-response to the infection, which is why H1N1 is taking its toll on healthy young adults. Their bodies are over responding — something called a “cytokine storm.” It’s basically a severe inflammatory response. One wonderful thing about plants (and herbs especially) is that they don’t all stimulate your immune system—some modulate it, or act as a buffer.
The Best Herbs and Spices For Building A Strong Immune System That Functions Correctly:
Honeysuckle and chrysanthemum: good antivirals
Artemisia: antimalarial (Antimalarial medications, also known as antimalarials, are designed to prevent or cure malaria.)
Andrographis, aka “King of Bitters”: antiviral, and helps modulate inflammatory response.
Licorice: buffers the inflammatory response by increasing steroid output by the adrenal glands; a good buffer if your immune system is over responding to the flu.
Turmeric: ORAC score of 159,277; general immune system booster due to its high antioxidant capacity, and an anticancer agent as well; turmeric is five to eight times stronger than vitamins C and E, and even strong enough to scavenge the hydroxyl radical, which is considered by some to be the most reactive of all oxidants
Black Pepper: Increases the bioavailability of just about all other foods — herbs and other things
Oregano: ORAC 13,970; active agent is rosmarinic acid, a strong antioxidant; one tablespoon of oregano has the antioxidant capacity of one medium apple
Cinnamon: ORAC 267,536; powerful antimicrobial agent—found to kill E. coli and many other bacteria; also has anti-inflammatory compounds
Cloves: THE BIG ORAC GRAND PRIZE WINNER AT 314,446, highest of all foods tested! Contains eugenol (a standardized chemical allergen); its mild anesthetic benefits are useful for toothaches and sore throats; good anti-inflammatory * Dr. Mercola
Friendly bacteria have a powerful, beneficial effect on your gut’s immune system, your first line of defense against pathogens, and aid in the production of antibodies. (See Prescript Assist)
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