Nutritional Immunology is founded on the idea that keeping your immune system healthy is the best defense against illness. Immune system function is key to a better life and supports mental and physical health on multiple levels. Your immune system supports mental health by providing your body with the energy and resources needed for your brain to function properly. Proper brain function includes producing the correct levels of chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, all of which affect mental acquity and mood.
Your immune system affects your physical well being by maintaining a system of organs to protect you. This system is made of the tonsils, lymph nodes, spleen, bone marrow, intestines, and thymus. By producing and controlling your immune responses, these organs help keep your body healthy and protect against infection and disease. The three major ways in which they do this are:
Your body’s best defense against invasive organisms is to physically block entry. When these organisms try to enter the body they must first attempt to cross physical barriers like mucus membranes and the skin. If the organism is successful, white blood cells, produced by cells in bone marrow, recognize the foreign body and produce antibodies to defend against it. There are five different types of white blood cells produced in bone marrow and they contribute to the more than one billion different antibodies your body can produce to protect you!
If your body is incapable of preventing an unwanted organism from entering its systems, Natural Killer cells are the next line of defense. These cells perform without needing to be “activated” by the presence of antibodies and work by binding to their targets and releasing chemical filled granules into them. These granules break down the attacking cell, effectively protecting the body. Besides actively seeking and destroying harmful organisms in your body, NK cells also perform other important biological tasks.
Macrophages are versatile cells that course through the body in search of invasive cells. These versatile cells reside in tissue and act as scavengers by ridding the body of depleted cells and invasive organisms. Not only do macrophages clear the body of dead cells, they also participate in immune response activation. By ingesting pathogens and presenting them to the immune system, macrophages stimulate the production of antibodies. This process helps relieve common ailments like chronic inflammation, as well as helping to increase muscle regeneration.