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Your Immune System: The Security System of Your Body

Posted Nov 10 2012 11:28am

People often hear about the immune system and that it is essential to keep it healthy and in good working order. Everyone wants a good immune system. But what does it really do? How does it work and why, exactly, is it so important for it to be healthy?

What is the immune system?

The body’s immune system is its defense mechanism against infection, and it protects the body against attack from outside invaders like germs, viruses, and bacteria. Simply put, it’s your body’s security system!

This complex system is made up of cells, tissues, and organs that all work in combination to provide defense against things that may make us sick like colds, the flu, measles, and a host of other illnesses. A healthy immune system helps the body stay healthy.

Unfortunately, sometimes the immune system attacks the wrong things, and that’s where allergies and other immune disorders come from. If the immune system isn’t working well, other diseases can result–as well as a lower tolerance for illness.

How does it work?

When the immune system is working properly, it protects the body in three ways.

1. The immune system creates a barrier, the first line of defense against bacteria and viruses so they can’t get in the body.
2. If that bacteria or virus happens to invade the body, this system can detect its presence and eliminate it before it does damage.
3. The immune system can continue to work against the virus or bacteria if it does begin to reproduce (making you sick) and eliminate it (getting you better).

Can you build up your immune system?

Yes! Mostly people can strengthen their immune system, which will keep them healthier.

It takes time to build up your immune system; that’s why babies and kids get sicker than adults. They are strengthening their immune systems by exposing it to germs. The immune system will remember the germs and protect the body the next time it meets those same germs. Elderly people tend to have lower immune systems and are more vulnerable to illnesses. But what can you do to help keep yours strong?

1. Eat healthy! That means a diet with a good variety of fruits and veggies–and a lot of them. Whole grains and lean proteins are great, too. Forego the sodas, sugars, and processed foods.
2. Relax and get enough rest. Stress and exhaustion can tear down your immune system; everyone is more prone to illness when they are stressed or overtired.
3. Exercise! Exercise is just good for strengthening the whole body; the more often you exercise, the stronger your immune system will be. Moderate and consistent exercise is best.
4. Get dirty. Kids who are allowed to play in the dirt and who are exposed to germs seem to have better immune systems. Also, when you need to clean up, stay away from the anti-bacterial soaps. They teach your body to fight even the healthy things. Use good, old-fashioned soap.

Why is it so important?

The bottom line is your immune system keeps you healthy–that’s why it’s important. If it’s weak, it can’t find the bad stuff, and you are more prone to illness. This is the body’s best defense, its built-in security system. It’s your job to keep it in the best working order you can.

Heather Legg is an author who blogs on healthy habits, clean eating, and security systems .

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