Ever wonder what your immune system is actually made of? Learn how the body responds to foreign invaders and what you can do both internally and externally to support winter wellness. Nancy Angelini is National Science Educator for Source Naturals and Planetary Herbals, with more than 14 years (and 1500 lectures!) in the natural products industry.The immune system runs all throughout the body and includes various organs and glands that work together to keep the body balanced:
The immune system is a network of cells that defends the body from foreign invaders. It includes protective barriers such as the skin and all mucus membranes, which are used as transport vehicles by our body to rid it of any foreign materials.
The immune system begins in the bone marrow where stem cells are formed and from there all of our red and white blood cells.
The spleen is important because it brings blood into contact with white blood cells called lymphocytes, in great volume. Any foreign invader will activate the lymphocytes by their presence.
The thymus gland is where our T-lymphocytes are proliferated and is also a part of signaling and orchestrating our immune defenses. It is likened to a crossing guard at an intersection and cross-walk.
Lymph nodes are found distributed around the body to filter and destroy bacteria.
Prevention is the key to keeping the body healthy during cold and flu season:
Wash your hands for at least 10 seconds in warm, soapy water. Public Health studies have demonstrated that doing this simple task can reduce the spread of germs.
Consider getting a longer night's rest during the months when there is less light. Longer, deeper sleep helps our bodies to recover and build even in the lack of exposure to sunlight.
Science now shows that emotional and physiological stress significantly impacts the immune system. Anytime we can reduce stress we allow the body a rest from stress hormones and create more support for repairing and renewal.
Supplementing with combination immune formulas is beneficial during peak cold and flu season:
Cayenne, ginger and garlic encourage sweating to help cool the body.
Elderberry has been an effective seasonal remedy for hundreds of years in Europe.
Research shows Echinacea's ability to support immune function, specifically through the increased activity of macrophages. These scavengers make sure foreign matter is destroyed and help rid the body of debris.