Immune function in our body is an ongoing process and it is difficult to boost it in a very short time. Now that the Corona virus is knocking on the door of our immune setup, we can not make our immunity strong overnight. Lifestyle changes and de-addiction are the easiest ways to boost our immune response, writes RAJENDRA T NANAVARE.

As the second wave of the Corona virus lashed on the Indian shore devastating human life beyond measure, the human immune system that acts as a fortress inside the human body fighting out pathogens and help us lead a healthy life, appears to be in great peril. With a weakened immune mechanism, our bodies are fast becoming targets of attack by the deadly Corona virus besides a variety of other disease inflicting bacteria, viruses, parasites, and more.

A strong Immunity is the shield the Corona virus finds difficult to invade (Picture: Getty Images)

Our immune mechanism is incredibly complicated and extremely vital for our survival. Several different systems and cell types work in perfect synchrony (most of the time) throughout the body to fight diseases and clear up dead cells. The immune system is an interactive network of lymphoid organs, cells, humoral factors, and cytokines. The essential function of the immune system in host defence is best illustrated when it goes wrong; underactivity resulting in severe infections and tumours of immunodeficiency, overactivity in allergic and autoimmune disease.

Immunity in our body is an ongoing process and it is difficult to boost it in a very short time. Now that the Corona virus is knocking on the door of our immune setup, we can not make our immunity strong overnight. Enhancing our body’s defence mechanism is a prolonged process filled with regular practice of physical exercise, intake of balanced nutritious diet containing mostly of fruits, green vegetables, vitamins, minerals and protinous food, consumed in the form of easy to digest freshly cooked soft diet. These coupled with relaxation therapy, daily practice of yogasana, pranayama meditation and regular morning or evening walks together offers a long lasting effect on our system..

Adequate sleep and rest, avoiding smoking and consuming alcohol enriches our immunity. Lifestyle changes and de-addiction are the easiest way to boost our immune function in a short time.

In fact, to develop immunity for a specific disease, a person needs to be exposed to the disease which is but not safe at all. So, the other way out is by artificially boosting with vaccination.

The main parts of the immune system are: white blood cells, antibodies, complement system, lymphatic system, spleen, bone marrow, thymus. White blood cells are the key players in our immune setup consisting of lymphocytes (such as B-cells, T-cells and natural killer cells), and many other types of immune cells. They are made in our bone marrow and are part of the lymphatic system. White blood cells move through blood and tissue throughout our body, looking for foreign invaders (microbes) such as bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. When they find them, they launch an immune attack.

Antibodies help the body to fight microbes or the toxins (poisons) they produce. They do this by recognising substances called antigens on the surface of the microbe, or in the chemicals they produce, which renders the microbe or toxin as being foreign. The antibodies then mark these antigens for destruction. There are many cells, proteins and chemicals involved in this attack. The complement system is made up of proteins whose actions complement the work done by antibodies.

Immunity is actually a complex biological system endowed with the capacity to recognize and tolerate whatever belongs to the host system (self), and to recognize and reject all that is foreign (non-self). The immune system was identified as a protective factor during infectious diseases over a century ago. Current definitions and textbook information are still largely influenced by these early observations, and the immune system is commonly presented as a defense machinery. However, host defense is only one manifestation of the immune system’s overall function in the maintenance of tissue homeostasis and system integrity.

In fact, the immune system is an integral part of the fundamental physiological processes. It aids in development, reproduction and wound healing. A close crosstalk between the immune function and other body systems such as metabolism, central nervous system and cardiovascular system also helps to maintain a good health.

How our immune system works? This vast network of cells and tissues is constantly on the lookout for invaders, and once an enemy is spotted, a complex attack is mounted. The immune system is spread throughout the body and involves many types of cells, organs, proteins, and tissues. Crucially, it can distinguish our tissue from foreign tissues — self from non-self. Dead and faulty cells are also recognized and cleared away by the immune mechanism. If the mechanism encounters a pathogen, for instance, a bacterium, virus, or parasite, it mounts a so-called immune response.

Balanced diet and regular exercise helps boost immunity (Picture: Getty Images)

What is immune response? When the immune function encounters a pathogen, it mounts a so-called immune response, much like in the form of fever. Fever is an immune system response marked by rise in body temperature, when the body embarks upon killing microbes and attempts to repair the system.

The immune response to any kind of pathogen is in incremental steps or layers. Immune system cells are primarily made up of leukocytes or white blood cells, which circulate through our body and scan for suspicious objects. As soon as we are infected, the first kind of immune system – the “innate” kind – kicks in. It is non-specific, so it protects against all pathogens the same way. The innate immune response triggers the adaptive immune response, which is more specific to the kind of pathogen infecting our bodies. The adaptive immune response consists of T cells and B cells.

B cells are the ones that produce antibodies or immunoglobulins to fight off the infection and help recovery. T cells and B cells also produce memory cells that are capable of storing information about antigens. These cells, called memory T and B cells respectively, take a few days to trigger after the first instance of infection, but invokes a swift and efficient response the next time the pathogen is encountered.

Another form of protection from infectious diseases, an indirect one, is herd immunity. It occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population has become immune to an infection. Whether through vaccination or previous infections, thereby reducing the likelihood of infection for individuals who lack immunity. Immuned individuals are unlikely to contribute to disease transmission, disrupting chains of infection of the so called vulnerable population, which stops or slows the spread of the disease.

RAJENDRA T NANAVARE is a Chest physician & Chairperson DRTB center, Bedaquilin at GTB hospital, Mumbai, Ex-Pharmcovigilance in Drug Safety Monitoring committee for Bedaquilin at I.C.M.R and Ex-Consultant for international union against tuberculosis and lung diseases. He is also postgraduate teacher for Chest & TB in College of Physicians and Surgeons, Mumbai. He can be reached at docrajn1203@gmail.com

Opinions expressed in this article are of the author’s and do not represent the policy of The Edition. The writers are solely responsible for any claim arising out of the contents of their articles.

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