Our immune system is a superorganism: a complex conglomerate of cells and molecules connected to all the organs, systems, and tissues of the body without exception. The national library of medicine defines immunity as “the most complex system in the body.”
WHAT IS IMMUNITY AND WHY DO WE NEED TO KNOW ABOUT IT
The word “immunity” comes from the Latin immunis, which means “free” or “inviolable”. Immunity is a combination of various biological defense systems of the body, thanks to which we remain healthy. The immune system works wonders, although it works almost invisibly-unlike, for example, the heart, which we feel beating, or the lungs, which allow us to inhale and exhale. The work of the immune system is usually invisible, but it is this powerful system that protects us from everything foreign, maintains balance in the body, and ensures wound healing. Immunity is the basis of health and well-being.
Immunology is a multi-faceted and complex field of knowledge that studies the immune system. Thanks to the achievements of this science, many approaches to medicine have changed radically in the last 30 years. And in the current reality, it is more important than ever for each of us to understand the basics of immunology and learn the basic rules that will help to preserve and even improve health. This is what my book will help you do. I invite you to take a fascinating journey into the world of immunology, where you will be able to understand the principles of the immune system and learn how to “support” it, as well as get acquainted with new, amazing discoveries in the field of immunity science. You will understand how the immune system works and how it works.
There is no other system in the human body that affects such diverse and numerous aspects of life. Both in illness and in health, the immune system works without knowing rest. It is always on high alert and on guard for the well-being of the owner. You may think that the immune system is too complex for most of us to understand. But I would like to say that the immune system is a beautiful, amazing and very logical structure, although it is subject to constant changes and has to adapt to a particular person.
The immune system is the main tool for maintaining the health of the body, but few people realize all the variety of its protective mechanisms until they get sick. If we catch a cold, especially in winter, when vitamin C is not enough, and we immediately remember the immune system and thank him for his valiant struggle. But that’s not all he’s doing. If it only existed for the sake of a few weeks of winter cold, we would have a hard time. We almost do not notice the work of the immune system, but it is deeply intertwined with every aspect of the physical and mental state, provides us with health and longevity.
Immunity is a complex system consisting of many components. The human body is subject to a variety of troubles, from allergies to autoimmune diseases, from mental disorders to metabolic problems and cancer. We try our best to be healthy and feel as good as possible, but we are still weaker and more unhappy than ever before. The reason is that our complex immune system easily loses its balance due to constant overload, stress, dirty air, overeating and lack of physical activity. What is considered healthy in modern society is not always healthy. Our contemporaries die from diseases associated with an unhealthy lifestyle significantly more often than for other reasons, but in many cases this can be avoided if you pay more attention to yourself and take better care of yourself.
We will talk about the achievements of modern immunology and see why the immune system is, in fact, the sixth sense, which allows you to notice and understand how the environment, feelings and emotions affect our condition. We will learn why some people almost never get sick and how to be someone who suffers from chronic diseases, as well as what it means to “strengthen” the immune system.
I never cease to be surprised and admired by this most important and completely logical system, on which our well-being depends. Since childhood, I have been interested in the peculiarities of the human body, diseases and health. My mother is a professional chef, she always believed that each of us is responsible for our own health, and she taught me the traditional basics of cooking, which I, as a mother, always follow. She told folk tales, and there was wisdom in them, which aroused my curiosity as a researcher and helped me choose a path in science.
The more I learned about the immune system, the more I changed my own habits and behavior. I’m not sure what familiar to most modern lifestyle can be called healthy, and I think that the reason the immune system many of us begins to kink. I continue to search for answers to questions, explore the evolution of the immune system, and reflect on how the lifestyle of our ancestors may have affected the health of each of us today. Did we not throw out the baby with the dirty water, opting for modern approaches and habits, like those fools who, trying to get rid of the bad that they have, simultaneously destroyed all the good that they had? I am interested in the answer to this question, and I will offer you my thoughts on the pages of this book and at the same time help you understand the principles of immunity, based on both traditional ideas and scientific achievements. As you read, you can imagine immunity as a nimble mobile octopus: it changes and pulsates, and therefore it is difficult to describe it in the format of a sequential narrative. One of the features of immunity is that often many questions related to it can only be answered like “when how” or”everything is not easy here”. To understand how to protect and promote health, we need to find a balance between being open to the new (no matter how illogical it may seem) and being able to persistently and meticulously explore both traditional and innovative concepts.
The immune system is a powerful system, but we often hear calls to “strengthen” it through diet, exercise, or healthy habits. We still have a lot to learn and understand about the relationships and features of the elements of the immune system, but we know for sure that this system needs balance, not strengthening. In this book, I will explain what this means in the context of General health care.
PROTECTION FROM INFECTIONS
The immune system is the only thing that protects each of us from hordes of microbes (they are also called microorganisms; they are indistinguishable to the eye, and they include bacteria, fungi, and viruses). Some micro-organisms do pose a threat to our health. Hippocrates (460-377 BC) was the first to try to explain the appearance of diseases from a scientific point of view. He believed that there are four types of life elements (bile, black bile, mucus and blood), and in a healthy body they are in optimal quantities, and in a sick person there is an imbalance of them. Hippocrates argued that diseases are the result of an excess of one of the vital juices, and this can be caused by miasma (toxic fumes containing particles of pathogenic substances) or by products of putrefaction entering the air (decomposition of organic tissues, for example, manure, food waste or corpses). This theory seems strange to us, but it is important to remember that it appeared when people did not have any modern technologies or precision instruments. It was impossible to see the microorganisms, so scientists could only speculate. In the mid-19th century, with the invention of more modern research equipment, the so-called microbial theory emerged, proposed by Louis Pasteur (the founder of modern immunology) and his contemporaries. Only then could humanity abandon the concept of the four elements. Most of us understand the importance of the immune system in the context of microbial theory: microorganisms are evil, and we are protected from them by white blood cells, which are among the first to come to the rescue, after the corresponding signal of attack from the histocompatibility protein complex, which I will discuss in more detail in the next Chapter. Of course, in reality, everything is a little more complicated, as it always happens in matters related to health and immunity.
The immune system is designed to detect and recognize your own cells and other (external) microorganisms. So far, the immune system is very clear who to fight and who to be friends with: extraneous and potentially dangerous microorganisms must be destroyed, and their tissues (it would be better) to preserve.
In the course of evolution, the immune system has developed an uneasy and even hostile relationship with microbes. For several hundred years, we have been accustomed to believe that microscopic organisms are the causes of terrible diseases-and not in vain. Mass outbreaks of infections, terrible epidemics, serious diseases really arise from the activities of myriads of microorganisms — our neighbors on the planet. In recent decades, we have seen outbreaks of diseases, from swine flu to zika and Ebola, and every time humanity has a well-justified fear of resistance to such terrible infections. However, do not forget that microorganisms attack us constantly, from birth to death, every day, every minute, every second of our existence. But whether we get sick or not depends on the reliability of our immune system. Most often, the immune system copes with the threat, and we don’t even notice it — that’s how important this system is! And no medication can protect us as much as our own strong immune system.
THE IMMUNE SYSTEM: A VERY, VERY, VERY SHORT EXPLANATION
Any medical student will confirm that the immune system is extremely complex and confusing. But still, let’s try to get a General idea of how it works, without going into details.
So, the immune system is not a single integral organ, and it is not located compactly in one of the parts of the body. This is a whole network of various cells, molecules and signaling proteins that work together for the benefit of a person in all his organs, systems and tissues. A brilliant, orderly, multi-million dollar network like Facebook, programmed to protect and protect us. Just imagine: the immune system includes entire organs and systems; for example, its components are lymph nodes, bone marrow and spleen — organs of the lymphatic system, the most important signaling proteins — cytokines (molecules secreted by lymphocytes, and sometimes other cells). Cytokines, like satellites, can transmit signals to help other cells, and also provide intercellular interactions in the immune response. The bone marrow is a kind of immune factory, where stem cells, initially undifferentiated, but able to change and evolve, form the right type of immune cells. Despite the name, white blood cells are found not only in the blood, but also in all strategically important areas of the body. And each of these zones has a unique set of properties; each forms a variety of receptors and molecules that are responsible for the peculiarities of the immune system.
The immune system can also be compared to a fortress, which has several levels of protection that are closely related to each other. The skin and mucous membranes lining the mouth, nose, and gastrointestinal tract are nothing more than the first line of defense. The skin and mucous membranes are an important component of the immune system, they produce a sufficiently aggressive environment for microorganisms, survival in which is not possible for pathogens. However, these physical barriers are quite vulnerable and have weaknesses. Over the past thousands of years, the vast majority of microorganisms that seek to overcome the body’s defenses have learned to evolve to increase the chances of breaking through the defense line. In response, our immune system-that fortress-has formed a curious system that can identify and preserve the most important defense mechanisms and sacrifice ineffective ones. Due to this, each of the defensive barriers has its own unique properties. Viruses, bacteria and pathogens appear daily, and the immune system continuously improves its defense Arsenal. Microorganisms and the immune system evolutionarily lead a brilliant game of chess, the winning of which is determined by the inventiveness and strengths of the opponent.