10 incredible things to know about your immune system



By now we all know our immune system plays a vital role in keeping us healthy.

It acts like a biological guard that hunts down the microorganisms that can make you sick. It protects us from infection and diseases.

Since it plays such an important part, here are some incredible facts about your biological bodyguard:

1. Innate immunity offers immediate protection

Innate immunity is our immune system’s two defence mechanisms. Our skin and mucous membranes act as external and internal defence barriers that stop infectious agents from entering and spreading throughout the body.

2. ​Adaptive immunity remembers infectious agents

When a virus or a bacteria manages to pass the innate immunity, your second immunity, the second line of immunity, adaptive immunity steps up. After fighting an infection, your immune system remembers the encounter, enabling it to react more efficiently the next time you come in contact with that pathogen.

3. Babies benefit from their mother’s immune system temporarily

During the last trimester, mothers transmit some of their antibodies to their babies through the placenta, providing the newborn some immunity against infections from birth. However, this protection is temporary and diminishes after a few weeks. Premature babies do not benefit from such protection due to an interruption in the transfer of antibodies.

4. Breast milk contains antibodies

Breast milk has antibodies and protects the newborn from various diseases like diarrhoea and pneumonia, the top two causes of infant mortality worldwide. Breast milk also contains hormones and growth factors, which promote immune system development.

5. ​Immune system efficiency decreases with age

As you grow old, your immune system becomes less efficient in fighting the infections. It becomes more difficult for the immune system to eliminate cancerous cells, explaining why cancer rates are high among older people.

6. Our immune system is shaped by our environment

Genes play an important role in determining the efficiency of our immune system. But researchers have found that the environment plays a major role in shaping it.

That is why even twins have essentially different immune system. This is because as they grow old, they are exposed to a different environment. Most of them don’t live in the same place or work in the same public areas.

7. Stress can hamper the immune system

Stress can lead to insomnia. Chronic stress can damage your immune system and elevate the level of the stress hormone cortisol. It also increases your risk of colds.

8. Too many white blood cells can indicate a problem

Too many white blood cells (11,000 or more per microliter) in your body is not good news. Though certain medications can increase white blood cell production. Infections and some types of cancer can also have the same effect.

9. ​Fever and immune system relation

 In many cases, fever is the immune system’s response to an infection, such as a virus and bacteria. However, fever is not an actual defence mechanism but a sign that the immune system has been activated and is releasing blood cells.

10. ​Laughter is good for the immune system

Laughing has a positive effect on the immune system. When we laugh, the antibody production increases in the nose and respiratory passages. Laughing doesn’t immunise you against all infections but improves your resistance to certain cancers and diseases.

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