The immune system is one of the most intricate body systems we have. Its main function is to neutralize and remove bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi that invade the body. It works by recognizing objects in the environment that may be harmful to us, and acts to protect the body against those foreign substances.
The “immune/inflammatory response” refers to how our system physically manifests the work it’s doing within our body. It begins when our system comes into contact with a protein on a cell. Our body reads the protein to determine if a particle is harmful or not. At this point our body may exhibit an inflammatory response. One example of this is how tissues can become damaged when in contact with bacteria or toxins. This can cause tissue to release chemicals, leading to fluid buildup within the tissue. Although swelling may produce, the fluid helps to isolate the foreign substance from coming into contact with other layers of tissue in order to start healing.
Allergies are an example of an inflammatory response. They are a reaction our body has to a substance it sees as harmful. Allergies can present as inflammation of skin, sinuses and airways, or the digestive system. Allergies can occur with certain foods, drugs, insect stings, or particles found in the air such as pollen or pet dander. Though we may experience different types of allergies, it is important that we support our immune system with a nutritious diet and balanced lifestyle to keep us healthy.
Living a healthy lifestyle is the best way to build a strong immune system. This includes eating a nutrient rich diet with fruits and vegetables, avoiding smoking and drinking in excess, getting plenty of sleep and exercise, and managing stress. Hygiene care, such as washing your hands, can make a big difference as well. We often touch our face without noticing and bacteria and viruses are able to enter our system when they access our mucus membranes around our eyes, nose, and mouth. By understanding our body’s responses and cues, we can better support the systems working to protect our health overall.