An introduction to the immune system
An immune system is the body’s defense. It supports your health all day, every day. Nearly all living things have immune systems, even bacteria and plants.
There are three main types of immune systems:
1. The barrier is your skin on the outside of your body and the surfaces of your organs inside.
When something new manages to get through your barrier system and enters your body, the rapid response team, aka the innate system, immediately tries to kill the invader, using its few pre-programmed tricks.
2. The innate is the fast response system; it has got all its rules figured out and ready to go.
If that fails and the invader gets through, the second defense ‘the adaptive system’ is activated. This one tries to outsmart the invader. It changes its response depending on what works.
It then takes a photo and puts it in a little file, so it can memorize all the stuff it has met before, ready to destroy them next time they try to come and visit.
3. The adaptive is the system that can change and learn how to react. You aren’t born with this, but you start to develop it from day one.
Vaccinations use the adaptive system to help our body remember illnesses and what to do when they meet them. Even though your immune system is working every second of every day, you might find it annoying when you have to keep blowing your nose or miss something fun because it sends you to your bed.
How does the immune system work?
The immune system does its best to keep you healthy. When it’s working well it can do a pretty good job at stopping things not belonging to your body. Here’s, in very simple terms, how it works:
If something that doesn’t belong to your body gets in and starts to gobble up the stuff your body needs, like energy. The immune system, using your bodies surveillance system, the white blood cells, launches an attack.
Some of the white blood cells, try to eat the intruder, while the others gather information on it. Once they get all the information, they call different blood cells, called the T-cells. The T-cells then rush to the invaders and crush them. Yay!
Meanwhile in a quiet corner, ‘the memory cells’ are using the information that has been collected, to make a special kind of protein called antibodies.
Antibodies are designed to fit the unique shape of the invader and destroy it. Hooray! They make enough antibodies to destroy all the invaders. The end. Cool isn’t it.
Now you know all about the immune system, read on to find out how we can support it.