Friday, March 11, 2011

Importance of the Immune System

The immune system of the human body comprises of a number of mutually dependent cell types that cooperatively defend the body against bacteria, parasites, fungus and virus. It also stems the development of tumor cells. Many of these cell types have specific roles to play in the functioning of the immune system. The cells can destroy bacteria, parasites, tumor cells and viral-infected cells.

The immune system’s 'innate' part has many fixed approaches to identify and destroy various kinds of infection readily. This normally engages a particular set of immune cells recognizing microbes, following abnormalities in the stream of blood to the location of disease. It counteracts on the germs releasing different substances before engulfing them (phagocytosis). These are called white blood cells. This strategy is of use only in case of those germs that have not yet built up means of resistance or evading recognition. Certain viruses are known to conceal themselves and multiply inside body cells to avoid detection by the white blood cells.

In cases of diseases, symptoms like the inflammation and enlargement of the skin could be hinting at action of immunity. This is because they assist the immune system of the body by permitting immune constituents in the blood to run to the spot of infection with greater efficiency and ease. But the swelling can itself affect adversely unless it is cautiously restricted. Since the immune system requires a lot of resources of the body to work properly, even a few lapses in the nutrient count of the body can affect the whole system. When these vital nutrients are in short supply, the body prioritizes the brain and other specific organs, and is not inclined to support the immune system. This happens during severe malnutrition and can harm the body to a great extent if a balanced and healthy diet is not implemented in the lifestyle.

Vitamin C, Vitamin E, selenium and glutathione have anti-oxidant capacities. They are capable of developing increased immune functionality, especially in older people. But too much intake of anti-oxidants can cause oxidative stress and damage or even destroy cells. So do not go beyond the upper limits of the usual nutritional intakes to avoid any adversities. Vitamin C, for example, is abundantly available in citrus fruits which are a great source of anti-oxidants in your healthy and balanced diet. Vitamin D is related to the growth of strong bones in the body and facts suggest that it could also function in the avoidance or cure of some infections, thereby aiding the immune system. It is formed naturally when UV light acts on the skin.

Tension and anxiety can also influence the immune system of your body in a detrimental way. Dejected people have restricted immunity to diseases, as the nervous system can openly come into conflict with the immune cells of the body. Hence mental stress of any kind should be avoided to let the immune system function properly. Also, though not yet clinically proved, the plant Echinacea is known to enhance immune function.

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