Our bodies have an amazing protection mechanism called the immune system. When working properly it is able to defend us against millions of bacteria, microbes, viruses, toxins and parasites. The immune system also has other important jobs. For example, our immune system can detect cancer in early stages and in many cases eliminate it.

The immune system protects us in three different ways:

  1. It creates a barrier that prevents bacteria and viruses from entering our bodies.
  2. If a bacteria or virus does get into the body, the immune system tries to detect and eliminate it before it can reproduce.
  3. If the virus or bacteria is able to reproduce and start causing problems, our immune system is in charge of eliminating it.

The immune system is complex, intricate and interesting. Our immune systems works around the clock in thousands of different ways, but it does its work largely unnoticed. One thing that causes us to really notice our immune system is when it fails. For example: bacteria and viruses can enter our bodies through a break in our skin. Our immune system responds and eliminates the invaders while the skin heals itself. Occasionally the cut gets infected. It becomes inflamed and fills with pus. Inflammation and pus are both side-effects of the immune system doing its job.

Each day we inhale thousands of germs (bacteria and viruses) from the air. Our immune system generally deals with all of them without a problem. Occasionally a germ gets past the immune system and we catch a cold, get the flu or worse. A cold or flu is a visible sign that our immune system failed to stop the germ. The fact that we get over the cold or flu is a visible sign that our immune system was able to eliminate the invader.

There are also ailments caused by the immune system working incorrectly. Allergies, for one, are caused by the immune system overreacting to certain stimuli. Juvenile-onset diabetes is caused by the immune system attacking and eliminating the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by the immune system attacking tissues inside our joints. In many different diseases, the cause is actually an error in the functioning of the immune system.

In our next blog let’s learn about the organs of the immune system. Then let’s learn about the cells of our immune system. Once we know all this we will have a much better understanding of how to strengthen our immune system so we can help maintain its peak performance.