Contributed by – Healthians team
As the coronavirus outbreak reaches massive proportions globally and scientists across the globe study the virus and its impact to create a cure, a significant amount of attention is also being paid to the human body’s own defense mechanism in fighting the infection. As news of fatalities trickles in, questions are being raised as to why some people are succumbing to Covid-19, while others are just experiencing mild forms of the illness; a weak immune system seems to be the most plausible reason.
The immune system or our immunity is an essential requirement for a healthy and happy life. The immune system is a network of cells, molecules, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body. Every single element of this network plays a key role in making the system work and protect the body against fighting infections or diseases. Hence, it is extremely important to test your immune system and whether there is any way for you to improve it.
How does the immune system act as a shield against bacterial or viral infection?
The key to a healthy immune system is its ability to differentiate between its own cells and foreign cells so that it can mount a response when it encounters a foreign cell. Each element of the immune system plays a specific role in getting rid of an antigen. Bacteria, virus, fungus, toxin, foreign bodies are all antigens (antibody generators).
The immune system first recognizes these antigens and then releases antibodies, each of which fights against a specific antigen. There are different types of cells in the immune system that perform one task, some specifically target bacteria, while some work against virus, some function as messengers and some act as complementary systems in destroying antigens.
Immunity – How is it impacted?
Every human is born with some innate immunity which fights against the attack of pathogens from the moment we are born. As we go through life and encounter diseases and get vaccinated, we build up a stockpile of antibodies which fight against different pathogens. This is called acquired immunity.
Generally, the immune system grows stronger as we grow older. However, because of its complexity, there are multiple ways in which it can go wrong and develop disorders. Immune-related problems can be of three types – immunodeficiencies, hypersensitivity and autoimmune disorders. While the latter two are not in our control, immune deficiencies are usually caused by our own lifestyle and behaviour.
What causes immunodeficiency?
Age – As you grow older your immune response becomes weaker as lesser fighter cells get produced, the communication between cells becomes weaker.
Obesity – Obesity can be traced as the cause for many issues including a compromised immune system
Alcoholism – Alcohol intake impacts your liver and kidney function compromising your bodies to get rid of toxins and waste.
Most of the above-mentioned factors are related to our lifestyle and habits which can be tracked, changed and improved to ensure better immunity. The best way to do that is to first check how your immune system fares and get your immunity checkup done, to understand how every part of your immune response is functioning and once you have the data available you can try and improve it by eating nutritious food, indulging in regular exercise, abstaining from alcohol, reducing stress etc.