The task of the immune system is to destroy any infectious microorganisms that invade the body and also to keep any infectious microorganisms, such as viruses, bacteria and fungi out of the body entirely. The immune system is composed of a complex network of organs and cells which protect the body from various infections.
Lymphoid organs, which are involved with the immune system and they affect the development, growth and also release of lymphocytes (specific white blood cell type). The lymphatic vessels and blood vessels are an essential part of the lymphoid organs, because their job is to transport the lymphocytes to and from various parts of the body. Each lymphoid organ itself has a role to play in the activation and production of lymphocytes.
The organs of the lymphoid are:
- Appendix – a tiny tube which is connected to the large intestine
- Adenoids – 2 glands which lay in the back of the nasal passage
- Bone marrow – fatty and soft tissue which is located in the bone cavities
- Blood vessels – veins, arteries and capillaries through which the blood can low
- Lymphatic vessels – a vast network of channels all over the body which carry lymphocytes to the bloodstream and lymphoid organs
- Lymph nodes – bean shaped small organs found all over the body
- Spleen – an organ with the size of a fist and is located in the abdominal cavity
- Peyer`s patches – tissue of the lymphoid located in the small intestine
- Tonsils – 2 oval masses found in the back of the throat
- Thymus – 2 lobes which join behind the breast bone and in front of the trachea
Lymphocytes: What are they?
Lymphocytes are a certain type of white blood cell which fight off infections and they are crucial to the immune system. They “patrol” the body in search for infectious microorganisms.
Different types of lymphocytes fight for infections in a different manner, although the job of protecting the body from various infections is the same. For example, T cells kill infectious microorganisms by destroying the body cells which are affected. The T cells also release chemicals (lymphokines) and these chemicals trigger a certain immune system response to fight against viruses or cancer! On the other hand, The B cells produce certain antibodies for certain infectious microorganisms.
Acquired and natural immunity!
The immune system is responsible for many different things. First of all, the immune system must give the body protection from various infections through natural barriers. The immune system also must adapt itself by “remembering” the infectious microorganisms from past exposures. The duration and degree of this kind of immunity depend on the amount and type of antigen and how it enters the body!
- Acquired immunity is developed through exposure to certain foreign microorganisms, such as foreign tissues or toxins. These are ‘remembered’ by the immune system of the body.
When a certain antigen gets into the body again, the immune system will know how to respond to his specific antigen, because it has ‘remembered’ it. For example, if a person gets chickenpox or is exposed to the vaccine of the chickenpox, the body will produce antibodies specific to the chickenpox. If the person happens to get chickenpox again, the body will release these specific antibodies to fight this disease.
- Natural immunity is created by the natural barriers of the body, such as the protective substances in the urinary tract, in the mouth, on the surface of eyes and the skin of course. Natural immunity is also developed in the form of antibodies that are passed on from mother to child!
What are disorders of the immune system?
If the immune system does not work properly, which often happens, it means that the body is more vulnerable to various diseases. Hypersensitivity and allergies to specific substances are considered disorders of the immune system. The immune system also has a crucial role to play in the process of transplanted tissue or organs. Some of the examples of the disorders of the immune system:
- Autoimmune diseases, like anemia, rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile diabetes
- Cancer if the immune system
- Immunodeficiency diseases like AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome)
- Immune complex diseases like malaria and viral hepatitis
Common disorders of the immune system!
The term cancer is used for various diseases in which the division of abnormal cells has gone out of control and these abnormal cells have invaded other tissues. These cancerous cells can spread to other parts of the body through the lymph and blood system.
There are more than 100 various types of cancers, so cancer is certainly not just one disease. The vast majority of cancers are named for the type of cell or organ in which they begin – cancer that begins in the lung for example is called lung cancer; cancer which begins in the colon is called colon cancer!
To successfully treat cancer requires you to have a strong immune system. Not only will a strong immune system help you fight the tumor but also recover from chemotherapy. There are many vitamins that strengthen your immune system and help you fight more successfully against cancer!
Vitamin A is one of these vitamins. It is a lycopene that has been found to fight against prostate cancer effectively. The body can get vitamin A from the conversion of beta-carotene, which contains carotenoids which also reduce the risk of lung cancer. Carotenoids and lycopene are also antioxidants which fight off germs and boost the immune system.
Vitamin C is also beneficial to the immune system. Vitamin C is used as an overall immune system booster but it can also help people with mouth, esophageal, breast and stomach cancers. Vitamin C aides the creation of collagen and repairs blood vessel walls!
Vitamin E, which is also an antioxidant, is a crucial component of aiding the immune system fight cancer. It fights against unstable molecules and neutralizes them, which helps the immune system fight against cancer better. It is especially helpful for prostate cancer!
The condition of the HIV infection is caused by the HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). HIV infection slowly destroys the immune system and this makes it harder and harder for the body to fight against various infections!
HIV or the human immunodeficiency virus can be spread in many different ways:
- Through blood – accidental needlesticks, through blood transfusions and needle sharing
- Through sexual contact – includes anal, oral and vaginal sex
- From mother to child – an HIV infected woman who is pregnant can transmit the HIV to her fetus through the shared blood circulation and also a nursing mother can pass it on with her breast milk!
The deficiency of vitamin A increases the severity of the infection of HIV. Declining levels of blood of vitamin A are associated with the increased progression of HIV to AIDS, according to research published in the “East African Medical Journal” in September 2001.
Common cold and flu
The flu and common cold are respiratory illnesses which affect countless people the year round. These illnesses are most common during the months of winter but they can occur at any time. The symptoms of flu and the common cold are a fever, aches and a sore throat. The most common ways of beating the flu and common cold is with higher vitamin and medication intakes, getting rest and hydrating the body as well!
Vitamin C can help to reduce the duration of the cold a little, according to a 2006 study published in the “European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.” But vitamin C plays a much bigger in preventing common cold and flu in the first place! Higher intakes of vitamin E and especially vitamin D during the summer months have also shown to help with flu and common colds!
The essential vitamin for the immune system
Vitamin A: Known as an anti-infective vitamin. It plays a crucial role in the normal functioning if the immune system! Vitamin A can be found in foods like cheddar cheese, eggs, sweet potatoes and carrots!
Vitamin C: It can mainly be found in citrus juices and citrus fruits. But vitamin C can also be found in foods such as broccoli, potatoes, Brussel sprouts, tomatoes and bell pepper.
Vitamin E: A very important antioxidant which can be found in whole grains, nuts and vegetable oils!
Vitamin D: Essential vitamin which helps to absorb the calcium, improve bone health and growth. Also promotes healthy function of the immune system, the intramuscular system and also helps to treat flu and common colds! Vitamin D can be found in eggs, mushrooms, tofu, soy milk, fish oil and fortified dairy products!