The foreign invaders arrive. They look around, scoping out the rocky terrain, seeking places to hide without being detected. The environment seems perfect for these opportunistic invaders. Or so they thought. As they settle in and prepare to be there a while, spies were being deployed to investigate and report back to headquarters. Within a matter of hours, it was determined these invaders were in fact a threat and needed to be dealt with. The combatants were prepared and sent to the battlefield...
This is a great illustration of what happens with our immune system. What exactly is an immune system? I am glad you asked! It is a large complex network of organs, blood cells, chemicals, and antibodies (proteins) which work together to provide protection from pathogens, viruses, bacteria, and fungus. This network includes white blood cells, lymph nodes, spleen, tonsils, adenoids, thymus, bone marrow, skin, mucous membranes, stomach, and bowels. While not directly considered part of the immune system, your lungs, liver, kidneys, oral and nasal cavities, and our microbiome all play important roles in protecting your body. The immune system is the only system designed to PROTECT us.
Using the illustration above, the foreign invaders are the pathogens or "germs" we come in contact with every single day. They are in the air we breathe, the water and food we consume, the door knobs we touch. They are everywhere. Some are opportunistic and live off the host, like parasites. Some require certain conditions to survive. The spies are parts of the immune system that check out these pathogens and signals the immune system to jump into action. The immune system has two parts - innate and adaptive.
The innate immune system is the first line of defense against pathogens, responding rapidly and usually within 4 hours after the immune system is activated by an injury or presence of pathogens. This first line of defense includes the skin, nasopharynx, gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, eye lashes, cilia and other body hair, mucous, bile, gastric juices, saliva, tears, sweat, and inflammation. The main job of the innate immune system is to distinguish self from non-self, and to target non-self (foreign invaders). Within a few days of the innate immune system being activated, the fire department is called in to clean up and bring the body back into balance. This phase is called the adaptive immune system.
The adaptive immune system is what surveys and determines what specific area needs to be targeted, cleans up foreign matter, calms down the inflammation, and promotes restoration of balance in the body. In comparison, the adaptive immune system is calm and targeted versus the rapid, non-specific action of the innate immune system.
Having a healthy immune system allows for a healthy resolution of inflammation, which involves a balance between the innate and adaptive immune systems. There are some key foundations to address in order to achieve a balanced, healthy immune system. These important foundations include sleep, nutrition, hydration, movement, emotional, and spiritual wellness. It includes assessing your current nutrition, identifying gaps, and correcting those nutritional gaps. It involves decreasing toxins in your body and in your environment.
Creating healthy habits will lead to a healthy lifestyle, and a healthy immune system. This will affect every area of your life. It begins with a choice. Every decision you make is either a life or death decision. Choose life.
Not sure where to begin? Allow me to partner with you as you work on the foundations and build from there. Have questions? Call or fill out the contact form. I look forward to speaking with you!