The human immune system is a truly amazing constellation of responses to attacks from outside the body. It has many facets, a number of which can change to optimize the response to these unwanted intrusions. Most of the time, the system is remarkably effective. The human immune system is three layered.
The skin and mucous membranes that act as a physical barrier form the first layer. The second layer is represented by the ‘innate immune system,’ a broad-acting, short-term, non-specific immune response to pathogens such as bacteria or viruses. Microbes that evade the innate system encounter a third layer of protection, which is characterized by a powerful mechanism called the adaptive immune response. In this layer, the white blood cells known as lymphocytes -- B cells and T cells mount a powerful, highly explicit attack on specific pathogens.
The exact functioning of the immune system is not completely understood. Inflammation is believed to be a major function of the immune system. Research in the US shows that major diseases linked to the heart and cancer are related to chronic inflammation. Diseases and problems with the immune system can be divided into two basic categories. The first category comprises of problems in which the body’s ability to fight disease is impaired and the second group incorporates those in which the immune system overreacts to stimuli, causing damage to the other organs or systems of the body. Problems with the immune system also vary in their degree of seriousness. They can either be relatively minor, leading to frequent colds and other viral and bacterial infections or could involve major diseases. Poor diet, cigarette smoking and even some prescription medications can cause problems related to the functioning of the immune system. Some diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis are caused by an overactive immune system and sometimes the medications prescribed to treat these conditions can lead to frequent infections.
Some researchers believe that the autoimmune (AI) disease is primarily a women’s issue. The ratios of AI diseases vary from 2:1 to 50:1 in favor of women. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is caused by an infection with the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV. This disease is not inherited or congenital. HIV invades and inactivates certain cells of the immune system, known as helper T-cells. According to data furnished by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 944,305 people in the United States have been diagnosed with AIDS. Unlike the other rare diseases of the immune system that are caused by a missing or inactive spleen or thymus or some other congenital or inherited defect leading to a lack or absence of any white blood cells, a person who suffers from AIDS invariably has had a previously healthy immune system.
There is substantiation for the fact that the best way to enhance the immune system is to reduce stress. Studies highlight that substances secreted by the body during stress have a negative impact on one’s health. Vitamin C is also an important nutrient for the well being of the immune system. Doctors recommend intake of about 200 milligrams of vitamin C in a day. This proportion can be obtained by eating at least six servings of fruits and vegetables a day. It could be a common cold or AIDS; it is all got to do with the immune system. Therefore, it is vital to take all necessary actions to keep the immune system in order.
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