The immune system is a complex organ system in the body comprised of white blood cells, skin, mucus and bacteria. Its central role is to seek, recruit, attack and destroy foreign invaders, such as bacteria and viruses that enter the body. There are two main levels of immunity.
1. Innate immunity system
The first level is called the innate immune system. This system provides a quick first line of defense and acts against a wide range of pathogens. The innate immunity system refers to nonspecific defense mechanisms that come into play immediately or within hours of an antigen's appearance in the body. These mechanisms include physical barriers such as skin, chemicals in the blood, and immune system cells that attack foreign cells in the body. The chemical properties of the antigen activate the innate immune response.
2. Adaptive Immune System
The second main level of immunity is called the adaptive immune system. This level refers to antigen-specific immune response. The adaptive immune response is more complicated than innate. The antigen first must be processed and recognized. Once an antigen is identified, the adaptive immune system creates an army of immune cells specifically designed to attack that antigen. Adaptive immunity also includes a "memory" that makes future responses against a specific antigen more efficient.
How to Support Your Immune System?
The immune system is precisely that — a system, not a single entity. For it to function well, it requires balance and harmony. Researchers are still exploring the effects of diet, exercise, age, psychological stress, and other factors on the immune response.
In general, a healthy lifestyle is the single best step you can take toward naturally keeping your immune system strong and healthy. Every system in your body, including the immune system, functions better when following balanced and healthy strategies such as these:
•Eating a whole food diet with plenty of fruit and veg
•Maintaining a healthy weight
•Getting enough sleep
•Drinking alcohol in moderation
Diet & Your Immune System
There is some evidence that various micronutrient deficiencies such as vitamins and minerals could alter immune responses. However, the impact of these immune system changes on health is less clear, and the effects are yet to be assessed.
So, if you suspect you may have micronutrient deficiencies, make sure you eat a varied diet with ample amounts of fruit and vegetables or support yourself with a good quality multivitamin.
Vitamins, Minerals & Antioxidants for Your Immune System
Research shows that vitamin D supplementation may reduce the risk for viral infections, including respiratory tract infections, by reducing the production of pro-inflammatory compounds in the body.
The body produces vitamin D from cholesterol, provided there is an adequate amount of UV light from sun exposure. *Spending 20 minutes outside in the sun without sunscreen would be enough to get your daily serving of Vitamin D
For moderate supplementation, a 1,000-2,000IU dose of vitamin D3 is sufficient to meet the needs of most of the population. The safe upper limit in the United States and Canada is 4,000IU/day.