The immune system is made up of a complex network of different cells (white blood cells), proteins (antibodies) and organs.
Responsibilities of an immune system
A human body is always exposed to several, harmful foreign elements -- like various organisms and viruses. Bacteria, parasites, fungi are those living organisms that can induce diseases in the human body. Viruses are also foreign invaders that are responsible for many diseases, but they are not considered as living beings since they are not made up of living cells.
The immune system is responsible in fighting all these pathogens that enter the body and cause diseases. Apart from that, the immune system also neutralizes body cells that have malfunctioned due to different diseases.
How a healthy immune system helps in fighting diseases?
The immune system comprises two parts: the innate part and the adaptive part. Innate immune system comprises white blood cells that ensure general defense against pathogens. While the adaptive system works more specifically to target pathogens with the help of specialized proteins called antibodies. The adaptive immune system learns and adapts with time to fight against a range of viruses and parasites.
Whenever the natural barrier of the human body is breached, the first line of defense i.e. the innate immune system comes into play. The phagocyte family of white blood cells, consists of dendritic cells, macrophages , and granulocytes which are part of the innate immune system neutralizes those bacteria, germs and foreign invaders by ingesting and engulfing harmful foreign elements. These actions underline the working of the innate immune system.
If invading pathogens are more complex in nature or outnumber the phagocytes, then innate immune system signals more specialized cells to fight against them. These specialized cells are collectively known as lymphocytes and they are part of the adaptive immune system.
Lymphocytes consist of T and B cells which are also known as T and B lymphocytes. These are specialized cells that recognize pathogens by the proteins that are attached to their surfaces called antigens. T cells are responsible for various tasks; they kill infected cells, communicate with other components of the immune system through cytokines and also help B cells to produce antibodies. Antibodies are specialized proteins that bind to the antigens of pathogens to mark them as dangerous cells which then help the immune system to identify and destroy them.
When a healthy immune system is at work, we don’t even recognize that they are fighting all the time to protect the physical and mental wellbeing of the person. When an immune system doesn’t work efficiently, we encounter diseases more often and become more vulnerable to viral diseases. In the worst case scenario, the faulty immune system can result into autoimmune diseases.
DR. JESSE A. STOFF is an internationally renowned physician with extensive credentials in clinical immunology and holistic medicine. A graduate of
New York Medical College, he pursued extensive post-doctoral training including a fellow- ship at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital in . He has authored/co-authored countless articles and 8 books including co-authoring the bestseller "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: The Hidden Epidemic" and The Prostate Miracle. London, England
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