We are all surrounded by numerous viruses, microbes, bacteria and parasites that can come into our bodies and make us really ill. But we have developed a clever mechanism to protect us – our immune system. We get one part of the immune system as little babies from our mothers – this is our innate immune system; the other part is the immunity, which develops and learns to recognise different threats to our health as we grow.
The immune system consists of a lot of various components. One of them is the skin. It acts as a barrier and stops the microbes from entering the body. Other places that bacteria can easily attack us through are the eyes, nose and mouth. This is why they are covered in mucus, which entraps the foreign bodies. But when a virus or a germ invades the body, different parts of the immune system become activated. And each one has another task in the fight against all the antigens that can make us sick. Let’s take a closer look at them!!
The lymph system plays a very important role in finding and fighting infections. The lymph nodes, like the ones in the neck, swell up which is a clear indication of a problem somewhere in the body. The lymph system contains vessels, which resemble the blood vessels, that carry blood plasma. It cleanses the cells and in case some bacteria have found their way into the body, the lymph takes them away.
Spleen – filters the blood. It contains white blood cells that can kill bacteria but it can also can get rid of old or damaged red blood cells.
Thymus – it teaches the white blood cells to recognise the difference between an antigen and the body’s cells. It is crucial that the body does not attack healthy cells. If this happens, we speak of an autoimmune disease. The thymus is essential for babies, however, in an adult’s organism its role is not so significant.
Bone marrow – it produces new cells, both red and white, from stem cells. Stem cells have the ability to turn into an enormous range of white blood cells and they all have a different role when protecting our body.
White blood cells – significant part of the immune system. Another name for them is leukocytes. If a virus or bacteria invades the body, the immune system detects it and sends white blood cells in order to get rid of it. Some of them can eat or absorb the foreign cells, others create antibodies and destroy cells that have already been infected.
The immune system has also the skill to remember the disease it has already destroyed so it can be better prepared and in case you get the same disease again, it can eliminate it more quickly. This is actually how a vaccination works as well – a weakened antigen gets injected into the body, the white blood cells kill it and store the information about it so it can prevent you from getting this disease later.
So now you know how important the immune system is for us. But what can we do to make it work better? First, eat a lot of fruit and vegetables – they are full of vitamins!!! Second, exercise and spend as much time playing outside as possible. Then you should get enough sleep and last but not least, don’t forget to regularly wash your hands. Small easy steps that can improve your health immensely!!!
antibodies – a protein which is released by the body in order to fight an antigen as a response of the immunne system
blood plasma – a liquid component of the blood, yellow fluid that transports blood cells around the body