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84 Burnett St Bundaberg

How Does The Immune System Work? A Simple Guide

The human immune system is incredibly complex – and amazing at its job! But you might be wondering how it works to protect you against injury and illness.

Let’s have a look at the two branches of the immune system, and how they work together to protect your body.

Innate immunity

The innate immune response is a quick-responding system that is general in nature. Whenever there is a potential threat within the body, they are first on the scene to try and disarm the invaders.

There are three major forms of defence within innate immunity – physical and chemical barriers, white blood cells that try to eat or kill the invaders, and inflammatory proteins such as cytokines. These respond in the same way, no matter what the invading germ is. For that reason, innate immunity is often referred to as the ‘non-specific’ immune system.

Innate immunity is quite basic, and it is what we are born with. However, it does become stronger and more effective by the time we reach adulthood.

Acquired immunity

The second branch is acquired immunity, also known as adaptive immunity. With this immune system, the cells will locate foreign germs and try to learn everything it can about the germs. That way, in future, it can produce a faster and more targeted protection against that germ. The ultimate goal is to prevent the germ from ever taking hold and infecting the body again!

And in case you didn’t guess it from that description, this is the part of the immune system that is involved with vaccinations. When you receive a vaccination, the goal is to teach your acquired immune system about that particular germ – without you having to fall sick from it.

This part of the immune system is slower to develop. We are born with very little adaptive immunity, and it takes years for it to fully develop. This is why kids fall sick so frequently!

What affects the immune system?

There are countless factors that can influence your immune system. Some to consider include:

  • What you eat
  • The state of your gut health
  • Your physical activity level
  • Key nutrients such as vitamin D, zinc and vitamin C
  • Your sleep quality and quantity
  • Physical, emotional and mental stress
  • Environmental factors such as pollution and tobacco smoke
  • What you were exposed to as a foetus and infant (including birth method and how you were fed as an infant)
  • Exposure to germs, particularly during your childhood
  • Genetics
  • Any underlying health conditions

As you can see, there is a lot going on when it comes to your immune system! That’s why sometimes it can be difficult for you alone to pinpoint why your immune system isn’t functioning optimally.

Can you boost your immune system?

‘Boosting your immunity’ is something that a lot of health experts argue about. Some claim that boosting immunity leads to autoimmune conditions – but it’s not that simple. As we’ve seen, there are different branches of immunity, and they have their own functions to undertake.

Usually, when we talk about ‘boosting’ immunity, what we are really saying is: ‘let’s support your innate immunity to fight off any threats and encourage the acquired immunity to form long-term protection’.

There are steps you can take to support your immune function – including through nutrition, diet, lifestyle and in some cases, herbs and supplements.

If you are looking for a plan to optimize your immunity and reduce your risk of getting sick, the team at Burnett House are here to help you.

Our acupuncturist Jamie combines acupuncture with other tools such as dry needling and remedial massage to relieve symptoms such stress that could be contributing to reduced immunity.

Our naturopath Trish can look at diet and lifestyle factors that can help to support immunity. She can also assess whether you would benefit from immune-supportive herbs and supplements.

To book an appointment with Jamie or Trish at our Bundaberg clinic, book an appointment online here or call us on (07) 41522372

© 2019 by Burnett House
84 Burnett St
Bundaberg South QLD 4670
ABN: 88 973 250 774
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