My wife is recovering from the flu. I know she is feeling better because she is bustling around the kitchen making her grandmother’s chicken soup, a highly guarded secret recipe. Then she suddenly turns to me and asks, “Where exactly is my immune system?”
Peering into the pot of bubbling goodness, I reply“My dear, our immune system actually starts in our nose.” I look at her, and she stares at me. I’m sure I heard her murmur, “You’re joking.”
Our immune system is anything but a joke – it is one of the most complex systems in our body and one that most people don’t understand because it is not located in one area. Instead, it comprises a number of parts within our body.
Now, where was I? Yes, the nose. The immune system starts in our nasal passage, where the mucous acts as a filter against germs. One of the reasons we are constantly told to keep our hands away from our face is because unwanted germs can enter the body directly via the nose.
In most cases, these so-called ‘germs’ are safe, and our body has evolved to protect itself against many foreign particles.
Our lymph nodes play an essential role in our immune system function. Despite research, we still do not know the exact number of lymph nodes in the body. What we do know is that they are distributed throughout the body and act as receptors.
Think of them as your body’s security system – if they sense an intruder, they will respond. In the case of our body, that intruder is likely to be a foreign bacteria or pathogen which will trigger an immune response.
So, by now you’ve probably realised that the reason we keep hearing about immunity, immune health, and how to support immunity is because the actual immune system is a complicated system.
It comprises of parts that exist throughout the whole body, which makes it unlike any other system. It is complex enough for all these parts to work together to keep us healthy against illness and disease.
Our thymus, bone marrow, and spleen are all part of our comprehensive immune system family. And to make things more complicated, no two people share the same characteristics; although, it does perform the same functions for all us – protecting us and keeping us healthy.
There is one part of our body that undoubtedly plays a starring role when it comes to immunity and keeping us healthy – our stomach or to be correct the gastrointestinal tract. Everything that goes through our gastrointestinal tract is monitored by millions of the good bacteria that live there.
These good bacteria can easily get overworked from the effects of our lifestyles: over-eating, under-eating, and overindulging. This can make the good bacteria sick, which means we get sick.
Now that we know what and where our immune system is, what can we do to make its functioning easier? How can the actions we take every day help our immune system to ensure it is not being over-worked or over-stressed?
In the same way we approach life – aim for balance. A balanced diet and a balanced lifestyle will go a long way toward supporting the health and proper functioning of our immune systems. Every step we take to good health helps protect our internal eco-system allowing it to cope when we get sick.
The benefit of having a healthy, balanced immune system usually means less time in bed and less severe symptoms for common illness like a cold or flu. The key to maintaining a healthy immune system is to keep it simple – do the things you know are good for your mind and body:
Remember the gastrointestinal system and our stomach play a huge role in our immune health and function.
To yourself. Stress and anxiety put all kinds of unwanted stress on the immune system and contribute to overall internal imbalance.
In most cases, your body will let you know what it needs because if you can’t hear it, you’ll definitely feel it.
My wife, who seems to have made a full recovery, is dishing me up a huge bowl of her chicken soup. She says I need it, she heard me sniffling…
What do you know about the immune system? How do you keep yours balanced? What have you done in recent months to boost your immune system? Please share with our community!
Tags Healthy Aging