Every organism in this world has the same goal - survival and procreation. For this reason, viruses, bacteria and parasites constantly try to penetrate our body because they also want to reproduce and survive. The human body is often an ideal breeding ground for this. The result of this can be that we become ill.
In addition to the bacteria and viruses that are harmful to the human body, there are also certain types of bacteria that actually help us survive and be healthy instead of harming us and making us sick. If a harmful virus or bacteria does enter our body, our immune system is the invisible protector that protects us from these harmful organisms. Because:
“What helps us recover is our immune system.”
We can and should strengthen and support this through external measures.
In this article we would like to clarify what such measures can look like and what is part of the immune system.
Our immune system, an invisible protector
Before we take a closer look at what actually belongs to our immune system, we would like to briefly explain what our immune system actually is.
Our immune system is our body's defense system. It fights harmful pathogens and cells so that we don't get sick and stay healthy.
The immune system is a relatively complex network that includes various actors who operate within it. This includes several organs, countless messenger substances and different cell types. All of these organs, tissues and substances are part of our immune system.
Immunoglobulins in particular, the so-called antibodies, are an important part of our specific immune system. In addition to the specific immune system, there is also a non-specific immune system - the immune system is divided into two functional parts.
We would like to briefly take a closer look at these two functional parts of the immune system:
Non-specific immune system – the innate protection
Our innate immune system is also known as the “non-specific immune system” and has both external barriers, such as our skin and mucous membranes, as well as internal protective mechanisms, such as the defense cells in our body.
White blood cells and bacteria-killing substances are just a few examples of how our non-specific immune system protects us from pathogens.
Specific immune system – the acquired protection
The specific immune system is not innate, but is only acquired through external influences and through confrontation with our environment and its pathogens after birth. When our body comes into contact with a potential pathogen, such as a virus or bacteria, our body uses certain defense mechanisms to specifically ward off and fight the pathogen. Our immune system remembers the characteristics of the pathogen and can then fight it off even more efficiently when it comes into contact again. The so-called T cells and B cells, a certain type of white blood cell, play an important role in our specific immune system.
Now that we have clarified to what extent the immune system is divided into two parts, we would now like to turn our attention to the so-called immunologically competent organs.
Immunologically competent organs
Immunologically competent organs are those organs and tissues that are involved in immune responses and disease control in our body.
The immunologically competent organs include, among others, the lymph nodes, the spleen, the thymus, the gastrointestinal lymphoid tissue, the bone marrow, the BALT and the GALT. We would now like to take a closer look at the structure and function of these tissues for the immune system:
The lymph nodes, often incorrectly referred to as lymph glands, are organs with a constant structure that are found in vertebrates, including humans. The lymph nodes are built into the lymphatic ducts. They act as filter and detoxification stations for the lymph.
The immune response to an antigen stimulus comes from the lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are about the size of a pinhead to a hazelnut and are roughly the shape of a bean. They are surrounded by connective tissue capsules.
Our spleen is located near our stomach and is a so-called unpaired organ found in vertebrates and humans. It is part of our defense system and a lymphatic organ. The spleen is about the size of a fist, weighs about 200 g and is crossed by a framework of trabeculae that encloses numerous blood-containing cavities.
These cavities contain the lymphocytes, granulocytes, plasmacytoma (plasma cells), erythrocytes (red blood cells) and their degradation products (red pulp), which are important for our immune defense.
The thymus, also called the mammary gland, is a lymphatic organ that is located in the form of two long lobes in the loose connective tissue. It is located behind our breastbone from the base of our collarbones and extends to the base of our fourth pair of ribs.
The thymus is the “training center” for the T lymphocytes of our immune system.
Our bone marrow is a spongy tissue located inside our bones.
Most immune cells are formed, multiplied and from there distributed into our blood, tissue and other organs in the bone marrow. It plays an essential role for our immune system.
BALT, the abbreviation for “bronchus-associated lymphoid tissues”, refers to the entirety of our lymphatic organs that are located in our respiratory system.
If antigens and pathogens are inhaled by humans, the bronchial-associated lymphatic tissues trigger an immune reaction from the holistic immune system.
The intestinal immune system can be divided into three barriers: the intestinal mucosa, the microbiome (“intestinal flora”), and the intestinal-associated immune system (GALT). The GALT consists of the tonsils (tonsils), Peyer's patches and intraepithelial lymphocytes.
The so-called gut-associated lymphatic tissue is a secondary lymphatic organ that is attached to the intestinal system and leads to local immunity there.
"The GALT is now considered the main player in our immune system"
Now that we know more about the individual players and organs of the immune system, we would like to look at how we can support our immune system through external measures.
How can I support my immune system from the outside?
We can support the immune system through several measures through our own external contribution. In addition to regular exercise and a general healthy lifestyle, a healthy diet and the conscious use of certain foods are the best way for us to support our immune system from the outside.
We have therefore summarized some options for you.
1. Build up the intestinal flora
Our intestinal flora is part and main player of our immune system and houses health-maintaining bacteria that are important for our immune system. If you want to strengthen and care for your gut-specific immune system, you can, on the one hand, consume good intestinal bacteria, the so-called probiotic bacterial cultures, and strengthen the good bacteria in the intestine with fiber by consuming them with food.
If you want to consume probiotic bacterial cultures (lactic acid bacteria or probiotics), such as Lactobacillus Plantarum, Bifidobacterium Lactis or Streptococcus Thermophilus, these are available in the form of capsules that can be easily taken. Bifidobacterium Bifidum, for example, supports the maintenance of healthy intestinal flora and strengthens its resistance.
If you want to eat good fiber to “feed” your positive intestinal bacteria, then porridge , for example, is a good option, which is full of healthy fiber. If you take this warm, you also relieve the strain on your immune system, as it can use the body's energy more efficiently because energy is saved during the digestive process. Healthy intestinal bacteria feed on these fibers and multiply, which has a beneficial effect on our intestinal flora and consequently has a positive effect on our holistic immune system.
2. Take antibodies
Certain foods or supplements can provide the body with antibodies that are essential for the immune system. A good example of this is the so-called colostrum.
Colostrum is the first substance delivered to the newborn after a mammal's pregnancy. In liquid form, colostrum is produced by female mammary glands and contains concentrated and important ingredients in the form of antibodies, lactoferrin, amino acids, and much more
The antibodies (immunoglobulins) contained in colostrum and the numerous other nutritional values support both our specific and our non-specific immune system.
3. Vitamins to support the immune system
Vitamins are also an excellent way to support our immune system. Vitamins are involved in numerous metabolic processes in our immune system. Without an adequate supply of vitamins, the immune system cannot work and you run the risk of becoming ill. If the body is completely deprived of certain vitamins over a long period of time, death can even occur. Vitamins are vital and fundamental for our immune system. When supplementing with vitamins, you should definitely pay attention to their quality.
Our high-quality vitamin capsules, for example, offer an ideal supplement for the effective supply of all important vitamins, minerals and trace elements that are important for the healthy functioning of our immune system. The Vitamins Minerals Trace Elements can not only make the routine of a regular and balanced supply of nutrients easier, but at the same time support the normal function of the immune system. Our vitamin capsules are sustainably and locally produced in Switzerland and are of natural origin.
4. Get enough sleep
Did you know that our body's immune cells are particularly formed during our sleep phases? This is also why we feel more tired when we have a cold or flu. Sleep scientists have found that 7 to 8 hours of sleep is ideal for the body. Good and sufficient sleep has been proven to strengthen our immune system.
If someone sleeps less than 6 hours a day, their immune system is weakened because not enough immune cells can be produced.
Colostrum has an antioxidant effect and strengthens the immune system on aerztezeitung.de, January 18, 2008, last accessed on June 25, 2019
Przybylska, J.; Albera, E.; Kankofer, M.: Antioxidants in Bovine Colostrum , April 2007