Our immune system is integral to our survival. Our bodies would be vulnerable to attack from parasites, viruses, bacteria, and more without it. In order to stay healthy as we make our way through a sea of pathogens daily, our immune system acts constantly.
The mechanisms at work inside our bodies are incredible. The vast network of cells and tissues, known as our immune system is constantly on the lookout for harmful invaders. Once our immune system has spotted a potential threat, it carries out a complex attack to keep the body healthy and free from harm.
How does it work to protect us?
The immune system has the ability to define self from non-self. By identifying proteins that are found on the surface of all cells, it learns at an early stage which is it’s own and which is not. When it detects a foreign cell that can potentially harm the body, known as antigen, our immune system will initiate an immune response.
Everyone’s immunity is different, but generally, it grows stronger during adulthood. An average adult has been exposed to more pathogens and developed more immunity. Immunity is why teens and adults tend to get sick less often than children. When an antigen appears for the first time, an antibody is produced. A copy of this antibody is stored after the initial exposure, ready to be deployed the next time the same antigen is encountered. When you are surrounded by children who are more prone to pathogens, it is your immune system, and more specifically your immunity that is keeping you from being sick.
There are three types of immunity in the human body, referred to as innate, adaptive, and passive. Firstly, innate immunity is a level of immunity we are all born with. This is the first line of defense against common pathogens — such as the skin and mucous membranes of the gut, nasal, and throat. The second type of immunity is adaptive a.k.a. acquired immunity. As we encounter diseases and different pathogens, antibodies stored in our immunological memory bank which remember how to deal with past enemies. The third type of immunity is passive immunity, borrowed from other sources, commonly known as antibodies in the form of pills and vaccines.
If our immune system fails, we become sick. So how can we support it?
There is much to learn about the complexity of the interconnectedness of the immune response and our lifestyles. We do know, however, to function well the whole system requires harmony and balance. A healthy immune system is connected to the well-being of our body holistically.
Although there is not one single method to “boost” our immune system, it is clear that maintaining a healthy diet, regular exercising, getting adequate sleep, and reducing stress will go a long way to make sure your immunity is well. While other methods may require constant daily efforts, a quick way to boost your immunity is by reducing stress in your life. Spa treatments have been studied and proven to help maintain a healthy level of stress which in consequence increases one’s wellbeing.