Whether you are ready to believe it or not, fall is just around the corner, kids here are already back to school, and cold and flu season is just a few short weeks away, not to mention the uptick in a certain viral variant that’s making the rounds. Kelly and I are firm believers that a robust immune system begins in the kitchen, so this month, we’re going to focus on helping you understand how your immune system works, the nutrients that support it, and then at the end of the month, we’re going to launch a 4-week online cooking class that we’d love you to join!
If you have a fantastic grasp of how your immune system works, you can make educated choices about how to take care of it. It is your body’s first line of defense against invading bugs and germs and designed to preserve your life and health. It’s a lot like a fortress.
Now, I’m English, and I grew up surrounded by castles and stories of kings, queens, knights, and fair maidens. (My grandparents even lived in a castle, but that’s a story for another day!) When I learned about the immune system, it reminded me of this ancient system of protecting cities from invaders.
This is Warwick Castle, it’s a spot that my family and I have visited on many occasions. Located only forty minutes from my parent’s house, it has served as a fortress in Warwickshire for 1,100 years. It started out as a wooden fort built by the eldest daughter of King Alfred the Great, Ethelfleda, in 914 A.D. but grew and expanded through the ages until it became what you see today.
The castle has seen its fair share of attempted invasions in its 1100 year history, but it has remained standing to this day. It is built on a cliff, which drops off into the River Avon – which you can see here. It has a dry moat around the edge that would have been filled with sharp stakes to stop invaders from getting across. Battlements filled the walls, providing incredible defensive positions for firing arrows from. And there were murder holes for dumping hot pitch out of. The walls were virtually impenetrable. And it was stuffed to the gills with hoards of defenders, like knights and soldiers.
A Mighty Fortress
Your body is like this mighty fortress with its own crew of protectors. They are your immune system, a vast network of cells, tissues, and organs that defend you from infection.
The Immunity Warriors
You have millions of defensive white blood cells known as leukocytes that originate in your bone marrow. There are two main types of leukocytes: phagocytes and macrophages. Phagocytes are like your castle gatekeepers, and macrophages are like castle knights. The gatekeeper-phagocytes continually scout around in your bloodstream and lymphatic system hunting for any signs of suspicious activity, such as sickness, toxins, and foreign invaders.
The gatekeeper-phagocytes are specifically looking for something called an antigen, which reveals the presence of the foreign invader. An antigen is like the enemy’s flag or standard waving in the air, identifying their arrival.
As soon as they spot the enemy’s flag, the gatekeeper-phagocytes sound the alarm bells, and your immune system kicks in very quickly.
In a castle, many different military men are responsible for defending the garrison. They know that the marauding invaders come in all shapes and sizes and have all sorts of offensive weapons. So their defense includes soldiers with a variety of skills and munitions. In the same way, your immune system is incredibly adaptable for fighting off a variety of attackers.
Upon hearing the alarm bells, your immune system dispatches the macrophage knights. Their role is actually to kill the foreign invader by consuming them. Once the knight-macrophage has disposed of the enemy, the gatekeeper phagocyte learns what it looks like so it can let the next team, the lymphocytes know.
The Lymphocyte Team: T-Cells, B-Cells, and T-Helper Cells
The lymphocytes have several teams too. With a clear description in mind, their foot-soldier T-cells go looking for the bad guys and kill them off. And back at the camp, the smithy and his team go to work to create the ultimate weapon to destroy the enemy.
The blacksmith-B-cells and their assistant-T-helper-cells, start concocting special proteins in your body called antibodies based on what they have learned about the invaders. These antibodies are unique to each type of invader and fit into them like a lock and key, effortlessly destroying them. The blacksmith-B-cell is capable of producing millions of these weapons to quickly neutralize the threat.
While all of this is happening in your body, you can experience a high temperature, which makes it difficult for foreign invaders to reproduce.
The purpose of your defense system is not to stop you from getting sick. After all, in a medieval castle, an invasion was inevitable. It is to stop the invaders from increasing to the point that your life is threatened and your castle overrun.
Due to the vigilance of your immune system, over time, your body develops long-term immunity. Because the blacksmith-B-cells and apprentice-T-cells know what the bad guys look like, they can rapidly deploy the right weapons if they show up again and stop them in their tracks.
So, in very rudimentary terms, that’s how your immune system works. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll share how you can keep all your knights, foot soldiers, and blacksmiths well taken care of so that they can protect you no matter which unwanted invaders come calling!
For most people, minor lifestyle changes will make a big difference. However, there are times when the problem runs deeper, and you need professional help. If you’ve tried to figure this out on your own, or you feel like you’re lost in a maze of information and aren’t sure which path to take, don’t give up hope.
We have a range of different approaches that will help you figure out the root cause of your dysfunction and stop the cycle of sickness so you can feel better now. Book your free 30-minute Breakthrough Strategy Session today.