How Does The Immune System Function? A never ending fight for survival

Our immune system has knowledge, is intelligent and learns. It is our first line of defense. It keeps us healthy and alive in the face of disease. Well, most of the time. Sometimes it doesn’t do it’s job well.

So, how does it function when there’s so many potential diseases out in this world, and opportunity for illness? How does it recognize friend from foe?

Well, its pretty phenomenal how it works and comes together which is what we’re going to discuss here.

It all starts in our DNA, this invaluable intelligence that is passed down from generation to generation into the fetus growing in in the womb of its mom.

DNA passed down to us from our mom and dad By Pixabay

These informational stories are from our mother and father’s DNA which helps us understand what came before us, what lies ahead and how to prepare for the worst.

If we didn’t get these messages from our parents while growing into the human mammals that we are, then our chances of survival outside the womb would be critically fatal.

Thankfully we have our amazing immune system which encompasses many immune cells called immunocytes that fights for our survival and allows us to detox, heal and thrive.

In this blog post I’m going to talk about the structure of the immune system, how does the immune system function, Innate vs adaptive immune response and the Lymphatic System Immune Response.

Inflammation by Pixabay

The structure of the immune system

The structure of the immune system isn’t finite because it is our whole body’s structure combined that makes it up. It’s a combination of immunity cells and a whole communication system that brings valuable defenses to our survival.

With that said, it does encompasses some important other structures within it and certain organs that are worth acknowledging.

The main component of our immune system has many white blood cells that are produced in large numbers within our bone marrow.

Blood flowing to tissues and organs By Pixabay

They flood specific organs to help fight infection. These organs include the liver, the spleen and our lymphatic system: it’s lymph nodes and lymph vessels.

The structure of the immune system also relies on the thymus, adenoids, tonsils, spleen, appendix, blood, the liver, the gallbladder, and the kidneys because all these are involved in immunity defense.

These organs and tissue pathways are so important to fighting off inflammation that they help house white blood cells so they can do their job traveling all around our body.

How does the immune system function

From the beginning of our human existence our immune system has been evolving. So the question is, how does the immune system function? Think of this analogy that your body has an armed army inside of it watching out for you.

It’s as if its always on guard, always anticipates war. These little soldiers are white blood cells called leukocytes, macrophages, phagocytes and lymphocytes coming to the rescue, building up their defenses all the while protecting us.

White Blood Cells By Pixabay

Its design is to fight anything foreign that may enter into us that may attempt to come into our bodies and cause infection, disease and ultimately our death.

If it doesn’t do it’s job to defend us, we die. Death is inevitable but not something to play around with when there’s so much life to live and so much life to enjoy.

Boy playing in a pond with possible exposure to foreign bacteria By Pixabay

The entry point of attack from infectious diseases could come from anywhere – into our nose, mouth, skin, eyes, breath.

It could be a sexual transmitted infection or from an open wound exposed to our oxygen rich bacterial environment.

There’s so many variables. This is part of the immune system function identifying diseases and fighting it which allows homeostasis to be restored within our body.

Here is a good YouTube video by Neural Academy that explains it well.

Colonies of foreign bacteria By Pixabay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s very important for our immune survival to know how things get into us from our environment and how to eradicate it when needed especially if there is already a sickness being fought.

If our immunity is not able to eliminate the stress causing harmful diseases, we’ll get sick, sicker or worse get a life threatening disease.

Inflammation By Pixabay

This could be because the immune system is already too weak to fight or because it’s overloaded with what to fight especially if it’s already fighting infection and then gets attacked again.

This is very serious and is also how people die fast. Sometimes we do die early before our time because our immune system is malfunctioning.

We want to prevent this at all costs!

This could be happening because of an identification error in our immune system programming where the communication between immune cells has broken down and they’re not able to identify information correctly.

Autoimmune Disease By Pixabay

They then determine that our own body is the enemy, our domestic cells as the target to eliminate, not the bad foreign invaders.

This is mainly what happens in autoimmune diseases. The immune system function is out of control and it malfunctions.

At the website Informed Health they talk about how the immune system can identify and kill cancer cells unless the immune system is not working properly, then it attacks its own healthy cells.

Healthy Cells By Pixabay

In a healthy immune system, our immunity cells should identify what these foreign invaders are and keep them from doing harm.

They need to know who and what these foreign invaders are and how to destroy them so that our body can eliminate them.

Our body will release them by way of our bowel movements, sweating, throwing up, or burning off fat toxins.

Viruses By Pixabay

The enemies are pathogenic parasites, bacteria, fungi or viruses. Our immune system function is to defend, kill, attack and gobble them up to be exterminated. This is what they do daily.

Inflammation By Pixabay

When the body is having a bout with inflammation, more white blood cells are at work trying to sustain our homeostasis.

It’s like these defending soldiers are playing tag, but it’s a deadly kind of game! They mark the invaders that have a toxic substance called antigens.

These antigens are like chemical guns trying to shoot at us to bring us down, but the immunity will not let that happen!

Disease, foreign invaders attacking By Pixabay

Because the immune system can intelligently block them from getting to us by identify them as invaders and flagging them for death, they then get destroyed, killed, or eaten.

They do this in two distinctive parts, the innate and adaptive Immune system response.

Fighting infection By Pixabay

Innate vs adaptive immune response

The innate immune system (non-specific) tracks down the unwanted visitors. These cells are like advanced professional sleuth hounds or snipers out to find what is compromising our health.

It does this by learning how to recognize and identify the difference between body cells and foreign invaders especially when our body reacts with inflammation.

They respond with haste, going on the hunt sniffing out the trail of unwanted intruders and at the same time our white blood cells are working diligently to communicate to our adaptive immune system about what is causing distress.

I like to think of the innate as the “fast attack family” because it fights against foreign molecules like infectious bacteria or fungus or viruses that are foreign to our bodies and it’s done quickly.

They are ready at a moment’s notice because these cells are swiftly identifying and recognize all different alien molecules.

On the lookout By Pixabay

The B and T lymphocytes let each other know there’s an ambush. This is done by finding out where these foreigners come in contact with us by pinpointing their molecular structure which is different from our own.

They find where the entryway is to provide more backup to the front line. They need to know how our body was compromised and where the entrance to infection started.

The entry point could be an open wound on our skin that was damaged in some way, or by food allergens ingested in our digestive system, or by toxins being breathed into our lungs or, chemicals soaking into our skin and into our eyes producing teardrops.

Thankfully we have an ability ability to sweat or at least most people do. There could be a number of different entrances.

Your body is consistently looking out for your best interest, always on patrol, on the lookout for anything suspicious.

Our immune system acquires this information naturally from our parents embedded into our DNA, passed down from natural childbirth. These cells are all in the same family tribe ready to act fast.

At the website The Difference Between, it shows the names of these cells. These cells are called white blood cells: monocytes, macrophages, National killer cells, neutrophil cells, basophil cells, neutrophil cells and eosinophil cells along with plasma and proteins that are in the front line of our defense. These all multiply in large numbers to eradicate the enemy.

Eradicating the enemy By Pixabay

The adaptive immune system (specific) function is to learn about foreign invaders and how they die in order to kill them. It does this by making antibodies to destroy them.

So in essence, the adaptive immune system’s function is learning about its environment all the time, taking notes and storing vital feedback information from invaders about where they come from and how to eliminate them. It’s all about survival and how to keep surviving.

They classify these invaders from where they originated from by establishing how they got into the body in the first place and they peg how to disarm these invaders before they can do harm.

Now, it’s defense tactics coming into the game of war by keeping track of their identities! It’s like being on a hit list of foreigners that are entering a country illegally.

It’s definitely a war game going on inside us – ALL the time! Therefore, I like to think of the adaptive as our “slow killing family” because it responds to any bad foreign molecule or germ 🦠 and overtime, however long it takes it works tirelessly to get rid of this disease.

They go on the attack by knowing what type of invader is connected to us.

So, now you’ve been introduced to our adaptive immune system cells in action – they are like advanced specialized soldiers and assassins where they store in their memory banks how to kill each foreigner if it ever comes into contact with it again.

The cells in this family tribe are called T lymphocytes and B lymphocytes cells. They work close with cytokine helpers, helper cells which are connected to the innate immune system, to kill the invaders on the front line that are being targeted for death.

They tag them to identify what they are, like playing tag; they have been flagged for death. These special killer cells are made in our bone marrow of the lymphatic system where they join the attack, the war going on inside our body.

So, that’s the main difference between our innate vs adaptive immune response: one is fast acting to kill unwanted visitors and the other is slowly killing unwanted visitors as it learns forever how to always kill them.

It’s mind blowing how we are born to know how to do this right from birth.

Stopping the invasion By Pixabay

Lymphatic System Immune Response

The Khan Academy website talks about the lymphatic system and explains how it’s role in immunity plays out. They talk about how infectious diseases of the blood are much more serious than infections in tissue which is localized.

It means it doesn’t spread to your whole body and if it did, it would be in the bloodstream.

This freeway stream we call our blood needs to be filtered and carried throughout the lymphatic system which has a highway of channels that allows our white blood cells to move in and out of it, in order to protect us like policemen on patrol.

Blood flowing By Pixabay

These highways connect to some very important organs and tissue like the liver, the spleen, bone marrow, thymus, tonsils, adenoids and lymph nodes.

We can view these lymph nodes like little “police stations” for our adaptive immune system.

These areas house our immune cells so that when they’re ready to go to war, our body will release them into the battlefield of our circulatory system and into the infected area.

Circulatory System By Pixabay

It is pretty amazing how our body knows how to protect itself and has these double checks and balances for safeguarding ourselves.

The lymph fluid is always filtered and never enters the bloodstream unfiltered. And did you know that there are over 600 lymph nodes that are like the “training camps” of our immune cells? It’s pretty cool.

So, if anyone tells you war isn’t natural, then educate them on our lymphatic system immune response and they will be impressed at how organized and intricate it is designed, just like our military system and how its always prepared for war.

Brain immunity and lymphatic system connection By Pixabay

According to Dr. Mercola there is a correlation between our immune system, our lymphatic system, our brain and our gut microbes.

In his article he talks about how some scientists have found a direct link between our brain and our immune system by way of a study done with mice and how new lymphatic blood vessels have been found in the brain.

Based on this new information it seems to me that there is a communication network with our immunity cells and our body organs/tissues in order to fight infectious diseases.

The human brain By Pixabay

In this study, immune cells with antigens circulate in the brain and then drain from it into the lymph nodes without causing strokes. That’s a very cool scientific analysis. I’m sure more information on this topic will be brought to the surface as more discoveries are made.

Conclusion

In conclusion, our immune system has evolved over eons to get to the integrated complex function that it is today.

I just love that it starts in our mother’s womb where our tissues develop inherited intelligent DNA, infused with vitality passed down from our parents.

As the fetus is growing, bone marrow is being made in our bones and has our immunity built right into us, preparing to defend our future life.

As we are born and became adults we have all the white blood cells needed to self replicate and tissues called lymph nodes preparing for anything that would harm us.

These lymph nodes are all around our body, harboring our adaptive immune system and communicating with our innate immune system preparing to fight in battle.

Everything in ourselves is made to protect us. If you think no one is there to protect you, just know that your body is and it’s doing it well.

There is an organ that can be considered a lymph node and that is the spleen because it harbors many white blood cells.

Viruses invading By Pixabay

Our immune system is here within us to allow us to survive and to live, not die. This is the purpose and main function of our immune system: survival.

Because this is so very important, we need to know how to kill off the bad bacteria, fungus, and viruses that invade us constantly.

As our immune system learns how to kill, it learns what causes the enemy’s death so that our body remembers, just in case we come in contact with the enemy again, then we can kill faster. Our bodies are remarkable.

It should be celebrated daily for it’s amazing efforts because it knows how to find and identify what is compromising our health.

It does this by learning how to recognize and identify the difference between your body cells and foreign invaders. So cool!

And this is happening all the time in your body, while you’re awake and asleep. Isn’t that great? Your body is consistently looking out for your best interest; it’s always on patrol, on the lookout.

That interest is to live, not die. Our bodies will continue to learn, grow and become more efficient at what it does as it adapts to our wonderful environment full of diversity and beauty.

Beautiful nature By Pixabay

Readers Comments (2)

  1. A very good summary of the immune system. Your article corroborates many things I have learned.
    I appreciated how you included a link to a video.

    My family has had a history of heart problems so sometimes I wonder if there’s a DNA issue.

  2. Hi Gary,
    Thanks for your feedback. It’s much appreciated. I too was unaware of our immunity link to our DNA. It’s pretty amazing how it’s passed down from generation to generation. We just have to strengthen it as we age and allow it to keep learning and building it up. 😊

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