Getting to know your immune system
The Immune System, what is it, where is it, how does it work and how can I help support it?
What is an immune system?
Your immune system is complex and there are lots of different parts to it. Simply put, there are, along with your red blood cells, white blood cells too. There are many different white blood cells which do different jobs and like a good army they work together to expel the foe, such as a flu virus or bacteria in your food that has entered your system. An example of one of these white blood cells is called a Neutrophil. These are good to know because they are the most common and have the best job – it searches for the bacteria, swallows it up and kills it.
Where is my immune system found?
It isn’t activated in just one part of your body, it is alive and working 24 hours a day, protecting you all the time, and is located in many parts of your body, for example, in your tear ducts, on the surface of your skin, in your mouth and in your gut. Your gut has 70% of your immune system in it. The reason for that is that there is no better place than the darkest depths of your gut for your immune cells to learn what is good bacteria and what is bad. If your gut isn’t feeling well, is inflamed, overloaded (hello IBS type symptoms), your immune system will not be able to thrive and won’t be able to do its job well, which leads to a host of health issues ranging from, not being able to shift a cold to eczema and arthritis. So if your gut isn’t feeling great, chances are your immune system won’t be firing on all cylinders either.
So how do I support my immune system?
Regardless of how well you’re feeling, your gut will always need some extra love and support. If you know you’re gut isn’t feeling right, you need to firstly, get out all those things that directly hurt the gut – sugar, alcohol and caffeine (I know, I’m sorry!). Then put in all the things that make the gut happy – gentle fibre, broths, and probiotics. Specific vitamins and minerals that are essential to a good functioning immune system are; zinc, vitamin d, vitamin c and magnesium. Also if you’re feeling stressed or going through a difficult time, your immune system is sensitive to this, so if you can try and reduce your stress levels, either through easy exercise like walking or allowing your body to have real relaxation time, this will help support your immune system greatly.