How Well Do You Know Your Defence System?   



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 antigens.
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 cells.

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 immune system.

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.
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Happy reading,
Evelyn


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