How Well Do You Know Your Defence System?
Every minute of every day, we are
in contact with multiple organisms that pose a
threat to our health. So why is It we are not
constantly battling an infection? It is all thanks
to our immune system, which works tirelessly to keep
out and fight harmful invaders. Think of it as a
personal defence system if you will. How well do you
know your defence system?
The skin - a physical barrier
The skin is more than an external layer; it is a
barrier that provides natural immunity to the body.
The skin is actually our most important defence as
organisms cannot penetrate it unless there is a
break in the layer, eg, a cut or scratch. Several
layers of dead epithelial cell, coupled with water
proof effected by natural oils, fat and keratin,
help form a barricade between the body’s tissues and
the harmful organisms around us.
Immune cells - the internal army
Leukocytes or white blood cells, are in charge of
the body's internal defence. Lymphocytes and
phagocytes are two types of leukocytes.
Lymphocytes are small blood cells that play a major
role in fighting infections. Lymphocytes are further
divided into two types – T cells and B cells. Both
these cells work differently.
When there is a foreign substance (antigen) present
in the body, the B cells will manufacture antibodies
that attach themselves to the antigens. The
antibodies help the T cells identify and destroy the
The T cells also send signals to other immune cells
to help the in the destruction of antigens.
Phagocytes are a group of cells that locate and
‘eat’ foreign substances. There are three types of
Phagocytes-granulocytes, macrophages and dendritic
Keeping your immune system healthy
Like any other system in your body, the immune
system, if not in tip-top condition, will fail to
function at its best. This will make you susceptible
to all types of infections.
Have you been consuming a balanced diet? Nutrition
is important for the health of our immune systems.
Studies have shown that even a small deficiency in
certain nutrients can affect our immune responses.
In a study published in the American Journal of
Clinical Nutrition. It was found that micronutrients
like zinc, selenium, iron, copper, vitamins A, C, E,
and B-6, and folic acid play an important role in
immune responses. The same study also concluded that
obesity can reduce immunity. If you haven’t been
getting adequate sleep, you may want to take note of
this. According to the Harvard Women’s health Watch,
a lack of sleep can have detrimental effects on the
Thus, it is easy to see that a diet that is high in
fat and low in nutrients, combined with a lack of
physical activity and adequate rest contributes to
an unhealthy immune system.