How the Immune System Works (+ 8 Ways to Give It a Boost!)
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A healthy immune system is built from the inside out! Most of us are trying to learn more about how to boost our immune system in order to ward off infection and illness. Without a strong immunity, we leave ourselves more susceptible to getting sick and diseases taking hold. Read on to discover how the immune system works, step by step, plus eight ways to improve your immune system naturally.
How the Immune System Works & 8 Steps to Make Quick Improvements
Your immune system is your “first line of defense” against bacteria, fungi, toxins, and even malignant cells that can lead to serious diseases in your body. In layman’s terms, here are just some of the things immune system cells can do:
- Some immune system cells shoot out particles that can open the cell membranes of pathogens like viruses and bacteria.
- Other cells work together to surround invaders and emit poisonous substances which kill the “bad guys” on contact.
- Others are like garbage collectors; their job is to “eat up” unfriendly substances in the body.
- Still, others are on “special assignment” to search out particular pathogens. Natural Killer Cells , designed to hunt out and destroy cancer cells, are examples of this.
With so many different immune defense activities happening throughout your body, there are plenty of ways to improve your immune system—but it helps to understand how all of these activities are connected.
Your Immune System Is Connected by Many Processes
Your immune system connects and interacts with just about every other system in your body, including the circulatory system, the digestive system, the lymphatic system, the detoxification pathways, and even your brain.
A little-known fact is that up to 80% of our immune system cells are in the upper GI, more specifically in the mucosal lining of the small intestinal tract . This is why gut health is so important for overall immune system health.
Also, new research, such as a January 2018 investigation conducted at the University of Texas’ MD Anderson Cancer Center , shows that more immune system functions occur in the brain than previously thought through glial cells of the neuroimmune system. These cells exist in the central nervous system and are designed to protect brain neurons from damage.
The immune system consists of billions of cells that perform hundreds of vital functions. Their daily routine is not unlike secret soldiers on the front lines of a battlefield – seeking out and destroying invaders without you ever knowing about it! This is essentially how the immune system works, step by step, many cells and functions working in tandem. So when one type of cell or one process is not working properly, you can see a decline in your immune function.
Autoimmunity: When Our Toxic World Catches Up to Us
With all this talk about what a great job the immune system does at destroying the “bad stuff,” one question you may ask is: What about people with autoimmune conditions? Doesn’t this mean that the immune system attacks things that it shouldn’t, like healthy cells?
In America and all over the world, we see an epidemic of autoimmune-related conditions. If you are reading this, there is a good chance that an autoimmune condition affects you or someone you know.
Here are three important (and surprising!) stats about autoimmunity:
- The American Autoimmune Related Disease Association estimates that approximately 50 million Americans  suffer from some form of autoimmune disease. This is about one in six Americans.
- Common autoimmune conditions include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, chronic Lyme disease, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and fibromyalgia. But there are many other conditions that are also autoimmune-related such as type 2 diabetes , autism , asthma , eczema, allergies , and some food intolerances .
- Some experts state that up to 90% of all people diagnosed with hypothyroidism suffer from an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis .
8 Ways to Improve Your Immune System
The rise in autoimmune conditions is just one example of how our bodies are responding to a world where the air, water, and food are more toxic than ever . Additionally, our lifestyles are more sedentary, stressful, and sterile than ever before.
The good news is that the general tips listed below can help you to rebalance and revitalize your immune system naturally:
#1: Clean up your diet to boost your immune system.
Eating a healthy, whole foods, green-centered diet is probably the best thing you can do for your immune system. This includes going 100% organic and non-GMO, as well as eating plenty of colorful vegetables and fruits.
Focusing on getting more healthy sources of omega-3 fats  as well as fewer simple carbs and sugars is a must according to most experts. Many individuals who have chronic conditions like autoimmunity benefit from going gluten-free and dairy-free as well.
#2: Balance your gut.
Restoring the right balance in your microbiome is key if you want to help your immune system. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University say that the gut is where “bacteria and the immune system meet .” Not only do most of your immune system cells reside in your digestive tract, but research over the last decade has also shown that we house more bacterial cells than human cells, most of them residing in the gut.
Supplementing with probiotics is important, but remember that these friendly bacteria are living things that need to eat. Prebiotics are the “food” of healthy gut bacteria.
Prebiotics to boost your immune system include:
- Raw garlic
- Raw dandelion greens
- Raw leeks
- Onions (raw and cooked)
- Jerusalem artichoke
- Green bananas
Apples are also considered by many to be prebiotic because they contain pectin, which increases levels of the long-chain amino acid butyrate. According to researchers at the University of Naples in Italy , butyrate helps to nourish healthy bacteria while decreasing harmful bacteria.
#3: Stay hydrated.
Staying hydrated is crucial for maintaining good immunity since water helps carry oxygen to the cells of your body and assists in flushing out waste products.
Perhaps most importantly, however, drinking enough water helps lymph fluid continue to flow. The lymph system is an integral part of the immune system. Lymph nodes throughout the body are where B and T lymphocytes (two types of white blood cells) are produced.
#4: Support your liver.
Your liver is your main pathway of detoxification as well as nutrient assimilation. Your immune system cannot be at its best when the liver is sluggish and slow. In addition to going organic with what you eat, removing sources of toxins in your household products and sundry items are good actions to take to lower your toxic load.
Consider cleansing herbs like milk thistle, which research shows can significantly help both your detoxification pathways and your immune system.
#5: Lower your stress to boost your immune system.
How stressed are you every day? Stress can absolutely affect your immune system. There are many vehicles for this connection, but perhaps the biggest has to do with hormonal reactions to chronic stress. When you are stressed, cortisol is released, inflammation is heightened, and key functions of the immune system, such as the production of immune system cells needed to fight infection, shut down.
In contrast, when you are calm, the body receives this as a signal to kick in “healing hormones” such as serotonin . The body cannot rest, digest, and heal when it is in stress mode. Period!
#6: Get regular exercise.
Exercise helps the immune system by causing changes in antibodies and white blood cells through increased circulation.
When circulation is increased, the body speeds up the rate at which immune system cells discover and destroy opportunistic pathogens.
Did you know that some immune-system conditions, like asthma, can be helped directly through exercise? A recent Iranian study published in the journal Trends in Life Science  found that aerobic exercise can help asthmatics by balancing insulin levels.
#7: Take care of your teeth and gums.
Getting adequate oral care directly relates to an improved immune system. A 2007 World Health Organization report addressed the major health problem of oral health:
“The strategy is that oral disease prevention and the promotion of oral health needs to be integrated with chronic disease prevention and general health promotion as the risks to health are linked .”
The connection between oral and immune system health is obvious: every harmful bacterial substance that can remain within the deep pockets of your gums will eventually spill out into the rest of your body.
Make sure to get regular check-ups, ideally with a holistic dentist who can check your mouth for cavitations . A qualified holistic dentist will also be able to advise you about bacteria-filled root canals and amalgam fillings that contain mercury.
#8: Get enough sleep.
According to the Mayo Clinic , lack of sleep can increase the likelihood of getting sick after viral exposure, and can also increase the risk of diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.
A 2012 study by the University of Tübingen in Germany  found that “sleep and the circadian system exert a strong regulatory influence on immune functions,” including the production of immune system cytokines, some of which are only created during sleep.
Most experts advise getting at least 8 hours of quality sleep (10 hours or more for children and teenagers). If you’re struggling with sleep quality, it might be time to learn more about your personal sleep chronotype—there are 4 chronotypes, and knowing yours will give you insights to help improve your sleep. There are a multitude of reasons why you might not be sleeping well, so investigate further and try different tips to see what improvements you can make.
How to Boost Your Immune System with Supplements
The lifestyle changes mentioned above are essential when it comes to kicking your immune system into high gear. Sometimes though, it’s still not enough. In addition to the above steps, you might also consider taking sources of key nutrients that have been shown to significantly aid the immune system.
Vitamins and minerals that directly help to support the immune system include:
- Vitamin D3 (in conjunction with vitamin K2)
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B12
Other plants that studies have shown contain high immune system potency include:
And finally, don’t rule out the power of the mind ! Visualize every one of your immune cells in balance and pulsating with vibrant energy. Then see all that good health flooding every part of your body and mind every day!
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 Functions of natural killer cells.
 Neuroimmune Interactions: From the Brain to the Immune System and Vice Versa.
 Autoimmune Disease Statistics
 Is Type 2 Diabetes an Autoimmune Disease?
 First large-scale study links autism and autoimmunity
 Asthma and autoimmunity: a complex but intriguing relation.
 NIH scientists find link between allergic and autoimmune diseases in mouse study
 Adverse reactions to food constituents: allergy, intolerance, and autoimmunity.
 Causes of Hypothyroidism: Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common cause
 Scientists categorize Earth as a ‘toxic planet’
 The impact of oral omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on acute vascular inflammation in a mouse model
 The Gut: Where Bacteria and Immune System Meet
 Potential beneficial effects of butyrate in intestinal and extraintestinal diseases
 The Effects of Serotonin in Immune Cells
 The Effect of Exercise on Glucose and Insulin Resistance in Asthma Patients
 Global policy for improvement of oral health in the 21st century – implications to oral health research of World Health Assembly 2007, World Health Organization
 Dental Cavitation Surgery
 Sleep and immune function
 Stress Reduction in the Secondary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease
GENERAL REFERENCE LIST (BELOW)
Diagram of the Human Immune System (Infographic)
What are the organs of the immune system?
Functions of natural killer cells
Neuroimmune Interactions: From the Brain to the Immune System and Vice Versa
NIH scientists find link between allergic and autoimmune diseases in mouse study
Adverse reactions to food constituents: allergy, intolerance, and autoimmunity
Immune Systems Increasingly On Attack
Is Type 2 Diabetes an Autoimmune Disease?
Asthma and autoimmunity: a complex but intriguing relation
First large-scale study links autism and autoimmunity
Epigenetics and Autoimmune Diseases
Causes of Hypothyroidism: Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common cause
Scientists categorize Earth as a 'toxic planet'
Immune Systems Increasingly on Attack
Mitochondria: dynamic organelles in disease, aging, and development
The impact of oral omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on acute vascular inflammation in a mouse model
The Gut: Where Bacteria and Immune System Meet
Potential beneficial effects of butyrate in intestinal and extraintestinal diseases
Environmental exposure to xenoestrogens and oestrogen related cancers: reproductive system, breast, lung, kidney, pancreas, and brain
The Effects of Serotonin in Immune Cells
The Effect of Exercise on Glucose and Insulin Resistance in Asthma Patients
Global policy for improvement of oral health in the 21st century – implications to oral health research of World Health Assembly 2007, World Health Organization
Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
Stress Reduction in the Secondary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease
The immune system is your body’s first and best line of defense against illness and toxins.
The immune system connects and interacts with just about every other system in the body.
80% of your immune system is in the GI tract, which is why gut health is so important to overall immune function.
8 ways to build your immune system:
- Clean up your diet
- Balance your gut
- Stay hydrated
- Support your liver
- Lower stress
- Get regular exercise
- Take care of your teeth and gums
- Get enough sleep
Vitamins and minerals that directly help to support the immune system include:
- vitamin D3 (in conjunction with vitamin K2)
- vitamin C
- vitamin B 12
Diane Jacowsky says
Can I take the Turmeric supplement and also take your multi vitamin supplement
at the same time?
Customer Support says
Organixx researches and develops a broad range of nutritional supplements to assist people in accomplishing a wide range of health goals. Some of our supplements are developed and designed to be taken together, as a system. Others were created for a more specific, targeted health goal. While most should have no issue consuming all of our nutritional supplements together, it is always a wise step to consult with your primary healthcare practitioner related to your own unique health needs and health challenges.
Hanan Abdullah says
Excellent article about the immune system.
If you use the Organixx green drink, do you still need the multiple vitamin?
Hi ...i have parkinsons disease & am wondering if any of your products would help me
Customer Support says
Hi Marie! We suggest working with your primary care physician to help you determine whether any of our products would be appropriate for your personal needs, and if so, what serving recommendation would be best suited for you because Organixx cannot diagnose, treat or give you advice regarding your health and individual use of our products. We wish you the best of luck in your health journey!
Customer Support says
Hello Bonnie! Organixx researches and develops a broad range of nutritional supplements to assist people in accomplishing a wide range of health goals. Some of our supplements are developed and designed to be taken together, as a system. Others were created for a more specific, targeted health goal. While most should have no issue consuming all of our nutritional supplements together, it is always a wise step to consult with your primary healthcare practitioner related to your own unique health needs and health challenges.