The healthcare and wellness industries do a good job of making us know that our immune systems are important — and we’re grateful for that — but we’re often not educated on the science behind our bodies’ protective functions.
Most of us get that our immune systems serve to fight infections and illness, but we’ve probably never really been given the finer details of our body’s defenses. Essentially, this leaves us knowledgeable enough that we need to “boost” or “support” our immunity but not literate enough to make informed decisions on the best way to actually do that.
To counter that, we searched for answers to a few of our burning questions about the immune system.
Firstly, where does the immune system live in the body?
The immune system is a complex network that includes organs, cells, and microbes. Its significant players include the:
- Bone marrow
- Lymphatic system
- White blood cells
- Complement system
We’re not going to break down each of these elements’ individual functions, but we can tell you that the perfection of how these elements interact with each other is one of Nature’s most perfect symphonies.
What are its major functions?
The immune system helps us with our external environment by neutralizing any destructive substance we pick up in our outer world and fighting any disease-causing germs we encounter, such as bacteria, parasites, and viruses.
If there are internal changes that cause us harm from within our body — such as cancer cells — it also begins to do its best at fighting back.
Can you physically *feel* your immune system?
Yes and no. If your immune system is operating correctly, you will not notice its presence. However, if it’s compromised or you get ill from a particularly aggressive germ, you will feel your body’s defense systems activate in the form of fever, aches and pains and so on.
So fever is an immune system response?
Yes. As your body fights an infection, its temperature rises. This is for two reasons, firstly, the rise in temperature can kill some microbes, and secondly, a fever triggers the body’s repair process. Therefore, many cultures and holistic healers advocate letting the body go through a fever without “breaking” it via OTC medications. In a recent article, our founder, Nikki, recently shared a similar perspective about managing her kids’ and family’s fevers.
Does the body remember every virus?
It does. Yet, another way our bodies are innately intelligent. Essentially, the immune system activates as soon the body recognizes an antigen (something it doesn’t identify as its own). This triggers a ton of responses in the body. Then, once done fighting, the body stores the virus’ information so that the next time it comes in contact with it — it can begin fighting it faster.
What is an overactive, underactive, or auto-immunity response?
The body can have an overactive, underactive, or autoimmune response. In some cases, these conditions are common, and in other times, rare.
If the body has an overactive response to an antigen, it can result in allergies, eczema, or sinus issues. Conversely, if a person has an underactive immune system, they can be more vulnerable to infections. This is called immunodeficiency, and this can be inherited or a side effect of certain medications such as chemotherapy.
In terms of autoimmune conditions, the body creates an unusual response to regular components of the body. This could manifest as arthritis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, or autoimmune thyroid disease.
How can we support our immune system?
As we’ve just covered, the immune system is a powerful but delicate physiological response. If it’s overworked or in a state of auto-immunity, the body can tire from being constantly in fight mode, and if it’s underactive, it’s highly susceptible to illness.
So what can we do to keep it operating in a balanced state?
As with most health advice, the immune system is best served through a whole food diet (with a focus on healthy fats and less sugars), regular moderate exercise (note too much high-intensity exercise can actually be detrimental to the immune system), adequate sleep, minimizing stress and alcohol consumption.
There are many claims that certain supplements can boost immunity. Although some natural compounds have been scientifically proven to bolster the immune system, many have not. Here are the top clinically studied supplements that can strengthen general immunity:
Outside of choosing clinically proven botanicals, it’s important to choose tonics and supplements with high doses and high-quality ingredients. It was essential for us to deliver on both of these points as we formulated our Mindful Immunity™ super protection syrup, which contains many of these recommended supports. You can learn more here if you’re interested in using a supplement to support your body’s natural rhythms.