What Is the Human Immune System?
So often when discussing issues of health and nutrition, the immune system is commonly brought up. It is known that all sorts of foods and health supplements like spirulina are meant to support the human system and one's health; but how exactly does it work? This article will take a closer look to learn exactly what components make up the immune system, so that we can more easily promote health and wellness in our own bodies.
The immune system is made up of specialized cells and organs that work together to help fight viruses, bacteria, and other foreign toxins that may threaten the health of the body. These foreign invaders are collectively known as “antigens.” To fight off these bad elements, the body has four main organs to defend itself from their influence. The key organs of the immune system include bone marrow, the thymus, the spleen, and lymph nodes. While we most often think of the lymph nodes as the primary organs of defense, they are only one part of an intricate system.
How the Parts of the Immune System Function
The immune system’s function begins with the bone marrow. During hematopoiesis, a process occurs that transforms stem cells into immune-fighting cells. While some of these cells are fully formed when they emerge from the process, others emerge as precursors that can go on to mature elsewhere. Bone marrow creates these four types of immune-boosting cells: B cells, natural killer cells, granulocytes, and immature thymocytes, in addition to red blood cells and platelets.
The thymus gland is where the all-important T cells, or thymocytes, mature from their earlier form from the bone marrow. During the process, the thymus differentiates what thymocytes are beneficial, which ones will fight disease, and which ones are mal-formed and may create a harmful autoimmune response.
The spleen, together with the liver, is an organ that helps to filter the blood. The spleen relies on cells that are again derived from the bone marrow, in order to perform this function: B cells, T cells, natural killer cells, and red blood cells. Macrophages and dendritic cells are also hard at work in the spleen. Macrophages destroy invading bacteria, and also work to heal wounds. These magnificent immune-boosters can morph into various forms, to respond to the needs of their local environment. Dendritic cells are terrific catalysts for the immune system, as they present antigens to T-cells and others.
The lymph nodes are another organ whose main function is to filter out the lymph. They work much like the spleen, but are placed at various positions through the body. Two of the more commonly known positions for these organs are under the arms, and beneath the jawline (approximately beneath where one's wisdom teeth would be). They have the same arsenal of cells that the spleen does, but the key feature of the lymph node system resides in its comprehensive positioning throughout the body. If the net of lymph nodes can't catch an antigen in a body with a healthy immune system, then the spleen typically will.
Knowing how the immune system works vs. taking the steps to ensure proper functioning are two different things. People often forget that lifestyle largely determines how well immunity is working to protect the body. Getting the proper amount of sleep, limiting stress and enjoying a balanced diet with immune boosting foods and supplements like Hawaiian Spirulina does wonders for supporting the immune system.