Where is the immune system found?
The immune system is generally divided into two parts. The first part is the defenses you are born with. These form what are known as the innate system.
The second part of your immune system, known as immunity, develops as you grow. Your immunity gives you protection against specific pathogens. Not only can this system recognize particular pathogens, it also has a memory of this. This means that if you encounter a certain pathogen twice, your immune system recognizes it the second time around. This usually means your body responds quicker to fight off the infection.
The innate system is found in many different places around the body. First line of defense is your skin. Skin forms a waterproof barrier that prevents pathogens from entering the body. Your body cavities, such as your nose and mouth, are lined with mucous membranes. Mucous membranes produce sticky mucus which can trap bacteria and other pathogens. Other fluids produced by your body help to protect your internal layers from invasion by pathogens. Gastric juice produced by your stomach has high acidity which helps to kill off many of the bacteria in food. Saliva washes pathogens off your teeth and helps to reduce the amount of bacteria and other pathogens in your mouth.
If bacteria or other pathogens manage to get through these first-line defenses, they encounter a second line of defense. Most of these defenses are present in your blood, either as specialized white blood cells or as chemicals released by your cells and tissues.
The second part of your immune system, the part that gives you immunity, involves the activation of lymphocytes. This will be described later on. Lymphocytes are found in your blood and also in specialised lymph tissue such as lymph nodes, your spleen and your thymus.
Healthy ways to strengthen your immune system
Your first line of defense is to choose a healthy lifestyle. Following general good-health guidelines is the single best step you can take toward naturally keeping your immune system working properly. Every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when protected from environmental assaults and bolstered by healthy-living strategies such as these:
- Don’t smoke.
- Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables.
- Exercise regularly.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
- Get adequate sleep.
- Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
- Try to minimize stress.