blog- Fantastic Facts about your Incredible Immune System
Fantastic Facts about your Incredible Immune System
Jun 8, 2020
Our immune system is what keeps us alive. It’s our personal bodyguard against diseases and other hostile pathogens. It’s a complex system of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body against infection and maintain overall health.
Currently there is a lot of talk about “boosting your immune system”. Unfortunately the magic cure or secret formula is something we already know, eat healthy, get enough sleep, don’t stress and exercise.
So instead we present 10 amazing facts about this fascinating world of alien invaders, white knight blood cells, and microscopic wars that will blow your mind and hopefully heal your gut!
1/ The human gut contains about 80% of the immune system
Your immune system is found throughout most of your body but concentrated in and around your gut in the "gut-associated lymphoid tissue", better know as GALT. It may sound strange at first, but when you think about how much food passes through your digestive system - and that food carries microbes, potential allergens, and toxins into the body - it makes sense that your immune system would be concentrated in your gut.
The immune system in your gut is hard at work identifying those substances and organisms that must not enter the body so that nutrients can be absorbed and good bacteria can set up shop in your gut to keep you healthy.
2/ Bacteria in our body weigh as much as our 3kg brain.
Though it may not be pleasant to think about, trillions of microbes live on and in our bodies. There are actually more bacteria cells in our body than we have human cells. Luckily most of them are good and we actually need them to maintain good health. Good bacteria in our gut provide us with the nutrients we need, and also create a defense against bad bacteria, infection and sickness. That’s why it’s important to support your gut bacterial balance by replenishing the good bacteria. Fuel your body with wholesome unprocessed living foods. Let food be thy medicine, as one great man once said.
3/ Only 1% of your blood are white blood cells
The most powerful weapons in your immune system's arsenal are white blood cells. They are constantly at work to protect you from diseases and infections. White blood cells only account for 1 percent of the cells in the 5 liter of blood in an adult’s body. But don't worry, there are more than enough white blood cells to get the job done. In each microliter of blood, you have between 5,000 and 10,000 white blood cells, every one of them ready to kick some bad bacteria butt!
4/ Fever is a good thing
A fever means your immune system is working. When your immune system encounters a viral or bacterial infection that requires a strong immune response, it may need to raise your body temperature to effectively eliminate the organism, which has a difficult time surviving at higher temperatures. So if your first response to a fever is to take fever-reducing medication, you may not actually be helping fight your illness. If you can, just accept the fever and help your immune system work as it is designed. Next time you have a fever, better appreciate that extra heat!
5/ 80% of people with autoimmune diseases are women
An autoimmune disease is a disorder where the body's natural defenses become hyperactive, attacking normal tissues as if they were foreign bodies. Examples of autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease and psoriasis. But the disorders don't affect men and women equally. Approximately 5 to 8 percent of the population has an autoimmune disease, about 78 percent of these people are women. This higher prevalence is partly attributable to the X chromosome, which has many genes relating to the immune system. It is advantageous for women to have two X chromosomes, because women are less susceptible to infectious diseases than men but the price is a greater tendency to develop autoimmunity.
6/ 7 hours of sleep is a minimum
Research shows that a lack of sleep results in a decreased number of white blood cells. Even a single night of poor sleep can impair the immune system by reducing the number of natural killer cells.
Most adults need a minimum of 7 to 9 hours quality sleep per night. This number is even higher for children. The longest recorded time without sleep is approximately 264 hours, or just over 11 consecutive days. After only three or four nights without sleep, you can start to hallucinate.
The amount of hours you spend in bed is not the same as the amount of time you sleep. Most people don’t fall asleep immediately and some wake up frequently during the night.
So the next time you want to binge watch the newest “Tiger King” deep into the night, remember that your white blood cells will also be tired in the morning…
7/ Being a sourpuss is bad for you
Stress can lead to increased levels of cortisol. Cortisol is an important steroid hormone but too much of it can lead to a number of health problems, including decreased immunity.
One of the best ways to get rid of stress is by laughter. Chemical stimulants such as dopamine are released during laughter. They stimulate the immune system and drive the white blood cells to fight infections. Dopamine also makes you feel joyful and happy. The happier, or more positive you are, the more likely you are going to eat right, exercise more and sleep better. All of it leading to a stronger immune system. Now smile like you mean it, it’s good for you!
8/ White blood cells like to work out
To be immunologically fit, you need to be physically fit. White blood cells can become lazy. Exercise mobilises them by increasing your blood flow, so they can do their surveillance jobs better and seek and destroy in other parts of the body. Experts recommend a minimum of 2 hours and 30 minutes per week.
More than 70 percent of intensive care patients that are hospitalized because of corona are overweight (BMI over 25). Being overweight makes breathing difficult, it causes abnormal sugar values and higher blood pressure.
What are you waiting for, jump on that bike and ride your butt off to the vegetable store.
9/ Double down on Vitamin D
Vitamin D keeps the immune system healthy by regulating the white blood cells. If there is too much stimulation, autoimmune diseases can set in. If there is not enough immune system activity, frequent infections can occur. It appears that vitamin D helps keep the immune system balanced much like a gymnast walking on a balance beam.
Your body makes it from cholesterol when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency is very common. It's estimated that about 1 billion people worldwide have low levels of the vitamin in their blood. Another great reason to spend more time in your backyard and less time behind a screen.
10/ Eating too healthy can be unhealthy
Feeding your body certain foods may help keep your immune system strong. There are countless lists of immunity boosting superfoods online. Chocolate, garlic, walnut, broccoli, citrus, ginger, kombucha... you name it. But for some people eating healthy is such an obsession that it actually becomes a disorder, namely orthorexia.
Orthorexia is an eating disorder that involves an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. Unlike other eating disorders, orthorexia mostly revolves around food quality, not quantity. People with orthorexia have an extreme fixation with the “purity” of their foods, as well as an obsession with the benefits of healthy eating. This in turn generates harmful stress.
Just like everything else in life, balance is key here. We like our Yugen a day. But when the weekend approaches, we might just mix it up into a delicious cocktail.