Strong immunity protects against infections, keeps skin elastic, gums, bones and nerves strong, and mood - vigorous. Immunity can be active, passive, innate, specific, humoral, cellular, acquired, but many people do not understand what the differences are.
What is the difference between the types of immunity and how it needs to be strengthened, says the doctor-immunologist Tatiana Sergeevna Borisova, an expert at the iHerb marketplace of vitamins and natural products for a healthy lifestyle.
What is immunity: congenital and acquired
There are two main "categories" of immunity - congenital and acquired. In animals and plants, the first is considered key; in humans, these species are approximately equal in importance.
Congenital or nonspecific immunity is the body's first line of defense. It protects the body with the help of various types of phagocytes, leukocytes, macrophages and mast cells, which are involved in the development of an allergic reaction. The innate immunity is triggered at the first penetration of a microbe or bacteria. But it doesn't get stronger or weaker: it is a kind of setting that works the same every time.
Acquired immunity, it is adaptive or specific, appeared later. It is activated after congenital, if the pathogen has overcome the first line of defense. The main mechanism of acquired immunity is the production of antibodies, which is provided by lymphocytes. This immunity acts more selectively and, due to the immune memory, can become stronger over time. At the first meeting with an antigen, some of the lymphocytes store information, and the next time the body recognizes it and reacts faster, preventing the disease from developing. This is how vaccination works.
Active immunity is developed after an illness or a vaccine. Passive - with mother's milk, and in adulthood after administration of serum with ready-made antibodies. The cellular immune response is due to phagocytes and lymphocytes, and the humoral response is due to antibodies.
Congenital and acquired immunity work in tandem, so one of them cannot be strengthened. It is not entirely correct to say “strengthen immunity”, it’s like saying “fix the car”. After all, it is not a machine that breaks down, but specific parts and mechanisms. It's the same with the body: you can strengthen the state of the organs of the immune system and the work of specific reactions.
Types of immunity: cellular and humoral
There is also cellular immunity, which is associated with the cells of the body. In his case, the body's immune response occurs without the participation of antibodies and the complement system. T-lymphocytes as part of this immunity produce receptors in the cell membranes that react to a foreign stimulus. Cellular immunity "specializes" in viruses, fungi, tumors of various etiologies, and various microorganisms that have entered the cell.
Many have also heard of humoral immunity. The main difference from the cellular one is in the location of the objects of influence. B-lymphocytes, which are formed in adults in the bone marrow, help humoral immunity. Foreign agents or T cells activate B lymphocytes when they meet bacteria and pathogenic agents in the blood or lymphatic system.
How to strengthen immunity
Maintain Vitamin Levels
Deficiency of any nutrient leads to various degrees of malfunction in the immune system. It especially depends on several vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin C - participates in the production of lymphocytes, stimulates the activity of macrophages, the production of antibodies and interferon, a protein that prevents the multiplication of the virus. It is a powerful antioxidant that provides overall cell protection against external irritants.
Vitamin D - stimulates the work of lymphocytes, monocytes, macrophages. These cells contain receptors for vitamin D. Stimulates the production of antimicrobial proteins on the mucous membranes in the upper respiratory tract, protecting the body from infection by airborne droplets.
Vitamin A - helps to form local immunity, on the skin and mucous membranes, which are considered the first and main barrier to infection.
Zinc, selenium, copper and iron are key micronutrients for the normal functioning of the immune system. Zinc inhibits airway inflammation and stimulates lymphocyte activity. Selenium accelerates the proliferation of lymphocytes and prevents the formation of tumors. Copper is essential for the production and distribution of neutrophils in tissues, as well as for the absorption of iron. Iron stimulates the activity of neutrophils and macrophages, is involved in the maturation of lymphocytes. It is important to control the level of iron in the body. If you take iron supplements during the period of infection, the condition of the body will worsen.
To find out exactly what substances are missing in your body, it is recommended to take tests for the level of essential vitamins and trace elements, and select vitamin complexes together with a doctor.
Add more fiber to your diet
In our country, we can buy most fruits and vegetables out of season, but this is not very healthy. In winter, fruits and vegetables, before they reach the shelves, lie in the warehouse for a long time or travel in containers, are grown on soils with stimulants. As a result, they contain less than 50% of nutrients. We get an excess of sugar and fructose, for which the body is not ready in winter. It also produces an excess of leptins, which are found in fresh vegetables. The body is able to neutralize this excess for about three months, but not the whole year. Therefore, it is important to add to the diet seasonal foods typical for the climate where you were born, preserves, pickled and pickled vegetables: leptins in their composition are processed by bacteria.
Cut back on sugary foods. Sugar is a breeding ground for the growth of pathogenic bacteria and fungi. Sugar also supports the inflammatory process through the work of insulin. Chronic candidiasis often looks like recurrent thrush, dandruff, allergies, runny nose, fatigue, head fog, colitis, pancreatitis, and other inflammatory processes. Way out: limit the use of sweets. Especially during the cold season.
Go in for sports
Blood and lymph stagnate if a person sits a lot and leads a sedentary lifestyle. Stagnation disrupts the circulation of lymph and blood: immune cells are slower to get to the point where the pathogen has penetrated. Toxins, bacteria and viruses remain in the body if the lymphatic system stops circulating and clearing out. This can provoke intoxication syndrome, in more severe cases - Herxheimer's reaction (among the symptoms - fever, chills, decreased pressure, tachycardia, nausea, headache, muscle pain).
Regular exercise ensures normal circulation and ventilation of the lungs. Workouts should not be high-intensity; a half-hour walk at an average pace and a morning warm-up are considered. Light sweat is considered a sign of sufficient physical activity.
Monitor your sleep quality
Sleep is not only necessary for the full recovery of the body and the normal functioning of the nervous system. While we are sleeping, lymphocytes process information about harmful cells and substances and, at the next meeting, recognize them faster. In a dream, immune memory is formed, without which everything that the immune system has learned during the day will pass by.
These are the main factors for the normal functioning of the immune system. For the body to be resistant to infections and external stimuli, it is not enough to deal with only sleep. All factors must be taken into account at once, and the lifestyle will be healthy.
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