Flu season is just around the corner, and that means it’s time to focus on boosting your immune system so you don’t get sick this winter. But that leads to the question, “Where is my immune system located?”
Your immune system is probably the most complicated system in your body. There are multiple lines of defense that your immune system takes to keep you free from infection and sickness.
Your first line of defense is the skin. Any time your skin is broken, a series of well-organized reactions is immediately put into action to ensure that foreign organism will not invade your body. It works fast to close the opening in the skin as quickly as possible.
Your first line of defense for immunity also includes your mouth and tonsils. Good bacteria populate the mucosal membranes of your mouth, throat, and tonsils. Your tonsils play a role in the body’s immune defense responses whenever bacteria and viruses are inhaled or ingested. They produce lymphocytes, which protect your body against disease and illnesses.
The Immune System’s Second Line Of Defense
But that’s not enough. Your immune system’s second line of defense includes your thymus, bone marrow, spleen and lymph nodes.
The Thymus Gland is In Your Neck
The function of the thymus is to mature the T cells and then release them into the bloodstream. Two T cells released when the body is under attack is the T helper and the T killer cells.
The Bone Marrow is Deep Within the Bones
All immune system cells are initially derived from the bone marrow as stem cells. Some of these cells include B cells, natural killer cells, red blood cells and platelets.
The Spleen is Your Filter
The spleen could be called the immunologic filter of the blood. It captures foreign materials (antigens) from the blood. This organ can be thought of as an immunological conference center, too. In the spleen, B cells become activated and produce large amounts of antibodies. Also, old red blood cells are destroyed in the spleen.
The Lymph Nodes are a Secondary Filter
Lymph nodes function as an immunologic filter for the body fluid known as lymph. Lymph nodes are found throughout the body, such as in the groin, armpit, and at the top of your neck. In a similar fashion as what happens in the spleen, the defense cells that capture the enemies in the lymph nodes will present them to T and B cells, consequently initiating an immune response.
Your GI Tract is Not Inside Your Body!
Did you know that what’s inside your gastrointestinal tract is considered to be located outside your body? Your GI tract starts with your mouth and ends at the anus. Just as the skin protects you from the outside elements, the GI (gastrointestinal) tract will protect you from anything that has the potential of reaching inside the body such as food, liquids, poison, chemicals, food additives, and bad bacteria.
It is important for your immune system to establish and maintain a strong presence at these borders, and indeed, the digestive tube is heavily laden with lymphocytes, macrophages and other cells that participate in immune responses.
So now that you know all this, answer the question: Where is your immune system?
It’s everywhere in your body from the top of your head to your toes!
How Do You Strengthen Your Immune System?
To keep your immune system strong, you have to go back to basics.
- Sleep. Getting a good solid night of sleep goes a long way at keeping immunity high.
- Nutritious food. A healthy diet is the ideal way to maintain a healthy gut, and regularly consuming traditionally fermented or cultured foods is the easiest way to ensure optimal gut flora.4
Clean Water. If your body has to fend off microbes in the water you drink, you’re defeating the whole purpose of boosting your immunity.
- Good Hygiene. Clean underwear daily keeps bacteria from traveling up the urinary tract to cause an infection. Daily bathing reduces the number of bacteria from the surface of the skin. The higher the number of bacteria gets, the more prone you could be to develop an infection.
- Fresh Air and Sunshine. Getting out into the fresh air and letting the sun’s warm rays provide vitamin D for you goes far towards keeping immunity high. Studies find that high vitamin D levels prevent infections. And a walk in the fresh air exposes you to hopefully pure air. Studies now find that the air inside one’s home can contribute greatly to a compromised immune system because of high bacterial counts in carpeting, molds in air conditioning and heating ducts, and kitchen fumes.
- Exercise and Movement. You have to move your body. Your white blood cells depend on adequate circulation which comes from moving your muscles. The body’s macrophages (pac men for bacteria) can become stationary if you don’t move.
- Eating Fermented Foods. Fermented foods provide your body with when they aren’t pasteurized.
- Probiotics Supplements. It’s important to take a probiotics supplement to ensure you’re getting a steady supply of a variety of healthy bacteria. Make sure your probiotics supplement not only has plenty of units but also plenty of different strains.