BACKGROUND: The ins and outs of immune boosting

immune boosters

BACKGROUND: The ins and outs of immune boosting

The immune system is like rush hour in the centre of town. There are so many parts moving in so many directions and at so many speeds that it looks like chaos. But somehow, it still works. And everyone still gets where they need to go.

 

A BIT OF BACKGROUND: KNOW YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM

To cut a long system short, here are the basic parts that make up the whole:

  1. Cells
  2. Antibodies
  3. Cytokines
  4. The gut

 

1. CELLS

What? These are the cars in the traffic. And each model has its own specs and speed.

What else? Some are removal vans for refuse. Some are traffic patrol cars that keep the flow on the road. Others are tow trucks. You get the picture.  

Where? The immune cells, or white blood cells, are produced in the bone marrow and speed around on the bloodstream highway.

Like what?

THE CELL

WHAT’S SPECIAL ABOUT IT?

GRANULOCYTES

 

Neutrophil

  • Targets bacteria and fungi

Eosinophil

  • Goes for bigger parasites
  • Affects the allergic response

Basophil

  • Releases inflammatory histamine

LYMPHOCYTES

 

B-cell

  • Releases antibodies
  • Activates T-cells

T-cell

  • CD4+ T-cells coordinate and activate other immune cells
  • CD8+ T-cells swallow and dispose of infected and damaged cells
  • Suppressor T-cells stop the system from launching overactive, autoimmune attacks

Natural Killer cell

  • Swallows and disposes of infected and damaged cells

Macrophage

  • Swallows and disposes of infected and damaged cells
  • Stimulates other immune cells to do their thing

Plasma cell

  • Produces antibodies

 

2. ANTIBODIES

What? Call them immunoglobulins if you feel like it (or Igs if you don’t). They’re basically signpost proteins that the immune system uses to find and fight invaders.

How? Plasma cell releases antibody. Antibody recognises and attaches to a foreign microorganism or damaged cell. Then killer and clean-up cells come in to swallow and ship out the offending element. In a nutshell.

Like what?

Antibodies come in different classes. And each class has a claim to fame.

THE ANTIBODY

WHAT’S SPECIAL ABOUT IT?

IgM

  • The largest antibody, which makes up 10% of those found in the blood
  • Very important in fighting infections in their early stages

IgG

  • Comes in four different types
  • Does most of the fighting against infecting organisms

IgA

  • Found in tears, breast milk, saliva and on the surface of mucosa like the gut, urogenital and respiratory tracts
  • Helps stop infective organisms from colonising these areas

IgD

  • Activates white cells to produce natural antibiotic substances

IgE

  • Helps fight worm infections
  • Binds with allergens and triggers cells to release histamine in allergic reactions

 

3. CYTOKINES

What? They’re cell-signalling proteins. The traffic lights, or traffic officers that conduct and communicate with immune system travellers.

What else? Different cytokines are produced by different immune cells. Some tell other cells where to go, others trigger an immune response.

So what? Mostly they have either pro- or anti-inflammatory effects, meaning they play a role in controlling the immune system’s rise and fall.

Like what?

There are families of cytokines with various fancy functions. Suffice to say that each clan sends different signals to different targets. Some family names to drop...

  • Interferons
  • Tumour Necrosis Factors
  • Interleukins
  • Chemokines
  • Transforming Growth Factors
  • Haematopoietic colony-stimulating factors (CSFs)

 

4. THE GUT

What? It’s one of the body’s most important physical barriers. It’s also an honorary part of the immune system.

Why? A complex mix of immune cells and healthy bacteria allows do-gooder nutrients in, but keeps the criminal element out. 

Like what?

Immune bits and pieces of the gut include the following...

  • Gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT). It’s the biggest piece of lymphoid tissue in the body. In fact, the number of immune cells in the gut is roughly equal to that found in the spleen – an immune system organ itself.
  • Immune cells. Plasma cells in the wall of the gut include suppressor, helper and cytotoxic T-cells. This means the gut is armed and able to put up a local immune fight.
  • Antibodies. Cells produce lots of IgA antibodies at the mucosal surface of the gut where they help fight infection. Also, because IgAs are found on other mucosa (respiratory, urogenital), a gut-triggered immune response can affect the action on other surfaces to.  
  • Healthy bacteria. Good or so-called probiotic bacteria in the gut are immune mercenaries too. They help to...  

                   - Outgrow and out-compete infecting organisms

                    - Increase the number of IgA-secreting plasma cells in the area

                    - Increase number and activity of T-cells and Natural Killer cells.  

For details on how good gut bacteria get the bad guys, read about The Real Thing PRO-Probiotic. And get more of them on your side.