Our Immune System
The immune system consists of a network of collaborating cells and organs. Their common goal is to identify and destroy anything that might attack and harm the body, and that does not belong within the body.
Text Carsten Vagn-Hansen
There might be harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi, synthetic or chemical substances. There might also be parts of food that haven’t been completely digested and have entered the blood vessels through a leaky intestine. The immune system strives to block these foreign obstacles so that they cannot reach cells and organs.
If that happens regardless, the immune system will try to isolate, incapacitate or destroy the attackers before they can spread and harm the body. If any abnormalities occur in regular cells, so that they, for example, become cancer cells, a normal immune system will find them and kill them.
Antigens and antibodies. In general, the immune system attacks antigens, which normally are proteins on the surface of something that might harm the body. Antigens exist on the surface of living microorganisms, such as virus, bacteria, fungi and parasites, but also chemical substances, pharmaceuticals, dandruff from animals, dust particles and parts of food. It is the immune system’s job to find them and incapacitate alien antigens, without attacking the body’s own cells. These are equipped with markers, which tell the immune system that they belong to the body and is a part of what it is trying to protect. Luckily the immune system changes during pregnancies so that it regards the foetus as a part of the body and not as an intruder.
Numerous important cells are a part of the immune system, including white blood cells. The bone marrow is essential for the immune system, as the immune cells are created from stem cells in the bone marrow. Some are formed in the thymus (a gland in the chest cavity), which is an important part of the immune system.
T-cells. There are several types of T-cells. The T-help-cells activates most other cells in the immune system. If they fail, the system breaks down; this is what happens with, for example, AIDS. The T-kill-cells attack and kill the body’s own cells when they have changed, for example, when they are infected with a virus. When they have completed their job, the T-damping-cells starts functioning to reduce the effect of the immune system so that it does not harm healthy cells and tissue. The number of T-kill-cells in the blood can double for a few hours. In that process, some proteins are released from the T-cells. These proteins are called cytokines, and they affect other cells’ functions. They are a form of messenger molecules between the cells in the immune system. Some enable and others prevent allergic reactions. They also contribute to inflammatory reactions – inflammations.
The cytokines can activate cell activity, promote cell growth and destroy target cells, for example, cancer cells or cells infected with a virus. Another type of immune cells is the B-lymphocytes, which are formed in the bone marrow. They are spread out in the body and exist in, for example, the lymph nodes, tonsils, spleen and intestinal mucosa, and they circulate the body with blood and lymph. They can react directly with the substances that are alien to the body when they do that they change into plasma cells. Plasma cells produce targeted free antibodies, which are proteins with the ability to bind antigens. When antibodies bind antigens, an antigen-antibody complex is formed. This complex has the ability to attract large macrophages and killing-cells. In some cases, the immune system can be sidetracked or overreact in ways that harm the body. This is the case with autoimmune diseases; the immune system attacks some of the body’s own tissue. Examples include child- and teenage diabetes and arthritis, but there are more than a hundred autoimmune diseases. Allergy is another example of an overreaction caused by the immune system.
A weak immune system. You can be born with or acquire immune defects. Complicated infections, removal of the spleen and exaggerated use of antibiotics are examples of the latter. Antibiotics can inhibit the immune system. This is because antibiotics inhibit and destroy not only the unwanted but also healthy bacteria. The body needs several benign bacteria to form a sufficient amount of antibodies, which in turn increases the resistance in general.
An unhealthy diet, white sugar, many forms of medicines and other chemical substances weaken the immune system. That also applies to tobacco smoke and other pollutants, as well as excessive consumption of alcohol. Stress and overexertion are also weakening the immune system. Rapid cooling of, for example, the feet can make the immune system fail and trigger a cold.
A healthy and varied diet is the most important when maintaining an effective immune system. In that way the body is supplied with all the vital vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and amino acids.
The best way to strengthening the immune system is to live healthy in the widest sense. A healthy and varied diet is the most important when maintaining an effective immune system. In that way, the body is supplied with all the vital vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and amino acids. Shortage of only one of the substances, for example, zinc, will cause problems with several hundred different enzyme processes. Iron deficiency among children and adolescents is frequently a cause of deterioration of the immune system. Vitamin C, preferably in natural form, in addition to A and E vitamins, the minerals zinc, copper and selenium are vital for the immune system, but separately.
The colourants, bioflavonoids, in fruits and vegetables, are powerful, natural antioxidants. Herbs generally contain strong antioxidants. Natural yoghurt is beneficial for the immune system because of the high content of lactic acid bacteria.
Our anger is closely linked to the immune system. The immune system is also connected to the brain and the rest of our body through signal and messenger molecules. Mind and body techniques such as meditation, yoga, relaxation, Qi Gong and similar can strengthen the immune system by balancing the mind and body.
There are several supplements with a strengthening effect on the immune system. Among Eqology’s products you can, for example, find Eqology Essential, a complex of 12 vitamins.
- Eat healthy, including at least 600 grams of organic fruits and vegetables daily.
- Avoid white sugar, margarine and non-organic dairy products.
- Avoid tobacco smoke.
- Keep your feet warm.
- Make sure you sleep well.
- Exercise daily, preferably outside.
- Ensure you get enough daylight and fresh air.
- Finish all warm showers with a cold one (or start to winter bathing).
- Use strengthening supplements such as Eqology Essential.
- Focus on the good and happy in your life.
If you are ill
- Eat vitamin C, at least 1-2 grams 3 times daily.
- Drink juice from black / dark berries (elderberries, Aronia, blueberries, acai berries, etc.)
- Eat chicken soup and garlic.
- Avoid infecting others. Be careful with hand washing and coughing into the elbow.
Carsten Cagn-Hansen is from Denmark and has been practising as a doctor for 18 years, and besides, he is a lecturer and tutor in Practicing Doctors Centralized Postgraduate Education. He was the president of the International Society for General Practise. He has also received several awards, including The International Nature Medicine Honorary Price. He is the author of numerous books within health and fitness. To top it off, he has been a radio doctor in Denmark’s radio and a TV doctor on DR TV.