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Your Immune System

Timeless Fitness Tips...

How Your Immune System Works

When your body is under attack from viruses and bacteria, you have two lines of defense. First, your skin and the mucous membranes in your respiratory tract literally screen out germs. If these lines of defense are penetrated, the immune system kicks in, sending white blood cells to the affected region.

Backup white blood cells, proteins in the blood known as antibodies and other blood components, follow, working in an orchestrated effort to strike down invaders. Antibodies in your blood recognize the invaders as foreign, rush to the point of entry and literally swallow the invaders, releasing powerful substances to destroy them.

How Your Immune System Works with Antibodies

For example, when you get a fever, white blood cells release components that work on what is called the hypothalamus, to raise your temperature because bacteria cannot thrive in hot environments.

This is why some doctors do not want you to take a fever reducer unless your temperature is high, say over 101 degrees. Your body has produced the fever to help fight and kill the bacteria. But note that this is no reason to take fevers lightly, especially if they go over 101 degrees. This could indicate a need for medical intervention. Always check with your physician if uncertain.

Why Your Nose Runs

First, the inflammatory response. The inflammatory response (inflammation) occurs when tissues are injured by bacteria, trauma, toxins, heat, or any other cause. The damaged cells release chemicals including histamine, bradykinin, and prostaglandins. These chemicals cause blood vessels to leak fluid into the tissues, causing swelling.

Runny Nose

Next, Invasion

When an organism invades, the body has an inflammatory response. It starts producing more mucus (containing antibodies) for a thicker layer of protection. The healthy purpose of sinus, nasal and lung mucus is protection. That is why your head, throat and chest become congested. Phlegm is just a mass of mucus mixed with dead white blood cells.

Clear or slightly yellow phlegm usually means the invaders have not penetrated deeply. But green or brown phlegm means more dead white cells, indicating that the organisms may have caused more damage. See a doctor under these circumstances.

Try Elderflower Tea

Anytime you have a runny nose, think about drinking elderflower tea. If you drink this tea throughout allergy season, it will help to reduce itchy eyes and a runny nose.

How to make:
3 cups water
3 tablespoons dried elder flowers
Let steep for two hours. Strain out the flowers, re-heat and drink 3 cups a day.

Drink Fluids

Drink plenty of fluids to help keep mucus moist for movement out of your system. Consuming warm liquids (healthy soup) or a steamy warm shower will help loosen up your mucus as well.

You can also flavor your foods generously with antioxidant spices and herbs such as ginger, turmeric, garlic and green herbs.

Drink more tea, which has been linked to lower levels of inflammation.

The Body's Best Disease Defenders

Body Defenders

Following is a list of the best organs in your body that defend you against viral and other intrusive attacks that make us ill.

Body's Best Disease Defenders

  • Tonsils: Collections of lymph tissue in the back of the throat filter out organisms that cause infection.
  • Liver: White blood cells in this "filter" organ remove organisms from the blood as it passes through.
  • Mucous Membranes: In the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts repel organisms and allergens and contain immunoglobulins that battle organisms that try to penetrate.
  • Bone Marrow: All immune-system cells start out here. White blood cells are formed, then released into circulation.
  • Thymus: Organ in which new white blood cells grow up, developing specialized functions.
  • Spleen: Removes abnormal cells from circulation.
  • Lymph Nodes: Act as "filters" and produce antibodies to destroy invading organisms or abnormal cells.
  • Skin: Keeps organisms and allergens from entering the body.
  • The Eight Steps to Immunity

    Here's a super quick crash course on immunity. Immunity is a medical term that describes a state of having sufficient biological defenses to avoid infection, disease, or other unwanted biological invasion.

    Louis Pasteur's Germ theory of disease brought to light the fledgling science of immunology. It began to explain how bacteria caused disease, and how, following infection, the human body gained the ability to resist further infections.

    1. Limit your exposure to germs and viruses. Stay in more during flu season. Use hand sanitizer frequently and wash hands whenever possible. Avoid touching your face. Sneeze into your sleeve if a tissue is not handy.
    2. Exercise regularly.
    3. Listen to your body.
    4. Eat better.
    5. Take nutrition supplements.
    6. Do not overuse antibiotics.
    7. Get immunized.
    8. Battle stress.

    Did you know?

    Yo-Yo Dieting a No-No. Repeatedly losing and regaining ten or more pounds may result in a 40 percent decline in immune function. This makes you more vulnerable to infections like colds and the flu, according to a study at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research center in Seattle.