In our current environment of the coronavirus, we are told to stay healthy and take precautions such as hand washing, avoiding large crowds, cleaning surfaces, eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, etc. No one seems to mention that every second of every day the body is working to protect us from armies of hostile bacteria, fungi and viruses that swarm on our skin; yet we usually remain amazingly healthy most of the time.
The body has evolved to approach these foes – if you’re not with us – you’re against us! So the components of the immune system work together to destroy any foreign invader. To implement that stance, it relies on two built-in defense systems, the innate defense system and the adaptive defense system that act both independently and cooperatively. However, it is extremely important to support this system with a healthy lifestyle for optimum functioning and its ability to keep us well.
Innate defenses include:
Surface barriers (skin, mucous membranes)
Internal defenses (phagocytes, natural killer cells, inflammation, antimicrobial proteins, fever
Adaptive defenses include:
Humoral immunity (B cells, plasma cells, antibodies, memory cells)
Cellular immunity (Helper T cells, cytotoxic T-cells, memory cells)
These two systems are deeply intertwined and when operating effectively, they protect us from most infectious microorganisms, cancer cells, and (unfortunately) organ transplants and grafts.