Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
In your body, you have an army whose mission is to defend you against any external threat. That’s how you could describe the immune system. It’s a complex network of organs, cells, and proteins that constantly monitor and act in sync to stop harmful micro-organisms in the environment from entering and infecting you.
But the immune system doesn’t just keep you on your toes against the outside enemy. It also helps wounds heal, fights the body’s own “bad” cells (those that have mutated), and removes those that have died. The effectiveness of the immune system usually depends on two factors. On the one hand, the severity of the infection and, on the other hand, how well the immune system can react against any abnormality.
What are the parts of the immune system?
- The skin: it is the largest organ of our body. It acts as a physical barrier against the intrusion of external agents. For it to fulfill its function, we must keep it strong, flexible, and with a good self-regenerating capacity.
- Mucous membranes: are the moist inner linings of some organs and body cavities found, for example, in the respiratory and urinary systems and the genital tract. They produce mucus and other substances that help trap and kill invading germs.
- White blood cells: also called leukocytes. They are motile cells (they move through the bloodstream and penetrate tissues in order to detect and attack microorganisms and other invaders). There are several types: macrophages, neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils, lymphocytes (B and T, NK), and monocytes. Each has a different function in defending against infection and foreign bodies.
- Organs and tissues of the lymphatic system: these include, among others, the thymus, spleen, tonsils, and bone marrow. Their function is to produce, store and transport white blood cells.
How does the immune system work against infection?
Any substance that causes the body to produce an immune response is called an antigen. Antigens can be toxins, chemicals, bacteria, viruses, or other foreign bodies that the immune system recognizes as foreign.
The first time an ‘antigen’ enters the body, what is known as innate immunity is deployed. What exactly is this? Well, the defense system you have in your body at birth that will instantly protect you against any infection. This system is primarily made up of your skin and mucous membranes. Should a pathogen manage to break through this barrier, macrophages, or NK (Natural Killer) cells, which are cellular components of the innate response, would spring into action and devour the invader. It is also so-called ‘acquired immunity.’ This type of immunity requires a learning process, which begins when the body first comes into contact with an antigen. White blood cells (T-lymphocytes and B-cells) ‘memorize’ this foreign body and ‘learn’ to create specific antibodies to get rid of it. Antibodies have several functions: they prevent pathogens from entering or damaging cells by binding to them. But they are also capable of stimulating other kinds of responses. They attach themselves to the pathogen to attract the attention of macrophages, which will eliminate them. Because our body has learned to produce the antibodies for this antigen, they will now remain in our blood and offer more effective protection if we get the same infection again in the future.
Did you know that…?
Vaccines work because they stimulate acquired immunity. The mechanism consists of isolating a virus or bacterial antigen and then introducing it into our body. In this way, the immune system will store it in its memory, create antibodies against this antigen and identify it in case it wants to infect us. With vaccines, acquired immunity is trained without having to suffer the full consequences of infections.
The building blocks of a strong immune system
We are often unaware that there are factors that weaken our immune system. Stress, lack of sleep, or a poor diet are common examples. Now we are going to give you some useful tips that can help you strengthen your immune system:
- Follow a balanced diet: The interaction between nutrition and the immune system is very complex. A person’s overall nutritional status and dietary intake pattern can influence immune system function. At each stage of the immune response, specific micronutrients, including vitamins and minerals, play a key and often synergistic role. Lack of even one essential nutrient can have detrimental consequences for the immune system. For this reason, it is crucial to ensure proper nutrition by eating foods that provide us with all the necessary micronutrients. For example, wholegrain cereals have far more micronutrients (minerals, vitamins) and fiber (essential for good nutritional health) than unshelled cereals. Some research suggests that dietary supplementation with specific nutrients, such as vitamin D and zinc, may regulate immune function.
- Take care of your microbiota: the colon and intestine contain millions of bacteria that form the gut flora. The microbiota synthesizes thousands of molecules that are responsible for adjusting various physiological processes in the body. This would be the case, for example, for certain short-chain fatty acids that are able to adjust the production of antibodies. The gut microbiota is present from birth and remains stable for the first three years. After that, changes occur based on diet. That is why it is so important to follow a healthy and balanced diet. If you add extra probiotics – yogurts, kimchi, kombucha? – you can prevent unwanted alterations in the microbiota.
- Exercise regularly: over the years, sport has been shown to improve immune markers and reduce infections caused by viruses. Sport has also been proven to reduce stress. People who suffer from long periods of stress and anxiety have a very high level of cortisol in their bodies. This is negative because it reduces the responsiveness of the immune system. In addition, high stress can cause old infections that are dormant in the body to suddenly reactivate and cause diseases such as cold sores and shingles.
- Get a good night’s sleep: when we sleep, the immune system has the opportunity to regenerate and strengthen its vital functions to cope with toxins and harmful agents. It has been proven that poor and insufficient sleep can lead to chronic, low-grade systemic inflammation, resulting in inflammatory diseases.
- Take antioxidants: immune system cells are not immune to damage. Unfortunately, free radicals, which are formed in our bodies, play a major role in this, as they promote oxidative stress and cause inflammation. Therefore, it is important to keep free radicals under control and to do so, there is nothing better than eating fruit and vegetables (5 pieces a day!) in as wide a variety of colors as possible. Pigments are related to different types of oxidants.
We have created several food supplements that we would like to share with you here because they can support you in keeping your immune system strong:
- Vitamin C: is a water-soluble antioxidant that helps fight free radicals and protects the immune system. It is also essential for collagen synthesis in the skin (our first defense barrier) and keeping it in good condition. Our tablets contain 1000 mg of vitamin C and have a small indentation that makes it easy to cut them in half. This makes it easier to take both halves.
- Zinc: is essential to preserve natural tissue barriers, such as the respiratory epithelium, and also to ensure a balanced function of the body’s antioxidant systems. In addition, it supports both the normal macronutrient metabolism – carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids – as well as proper immune function and the healthy growth of hair, nails, and skin. Zenement Zinc contains 25 mg of zinc per tablet and comes in the form of zinc bisglycinate, which is the most bioavailable. The dosage is 1 tablet per day in the morning.
- Vitamin D3: is recognized for its great ability to regulate immune function. Vitamin D is involved in both innate and acquired immunity processes. This is why it is essential to maintain adequate doses in the body. Each softgel of our vitamin D has 4000 IU and extra virgin olive oil to maximize its absorption. We recommend taking one softgel in the morning.
- Pro-flora: as we have seen, the microbiota plays an essential role in the functioning of the immune system. Our proprietary formula has a unique combination of 19 strains and 30 CFU per dose. We recommend taking 2 capsules per day with one of your main meals.
Proactiflora, 19 Strains (30B CFU) + Inulin – 120 CapsulesProduct on sale
Vitamin D3 4000 IU with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) – 365 Softgels€14,83
Vitamin C 1000mg – 270 TabletsProduct on sale
Zinc 25mg (Bisglycinate) – 400 TabletsProduct on sale