Immunity and its importance
Originating from Latin, immune means not affected or influenced by something. With regards to our body, immunity refers to total or partial resistance to an infectious disease or pathogen. It was only in the late nineteenth century that research began to find out what causes infectious diseases; the study led to modern immunology. Louis Pasteur, a French microbiologist and chemist, was a pioneer in the discovery of prophylactic — intended to prevent disease — vaccination.
A new born experiences a change in surroundings and is prone to many infectious diseases due to viruses or pathogens in the air. Until the new born is connected to the placenta by an umbilical cord, all nutrition, oxygen, and life support are taken from the mother’s blood and supplied by means of the umbilical cord. There are series of vaccinations that are referred to by a paediatrician, such as the hepatitis B vaccine within 24 hours of birth. There are various vaccines for protection against life-threatening diseases or serious health issues such as pneumonia, measles, brain swelling, blindness, polio, rabies, and tetanus.
Factors affecting immunity
- The presence of natural and adaptive immunity
Immunity is either natural or adaptive. Natural immunity has been present in all living beings since their birth. It becomes active when a pathogen attacks; it is a defence mechanism to keep our body away from harmful pathogens. Natural immunity components are salivary enzymes, skin, and neutrophils that protect our internal organs, muscles, and blood vessels from infections at birth prior to exposure to antigens or pathogens. In addition to those mentioned above, there are chemical barriers such as the lining of the gastric and respiratory tracts, bile, and stomach acid that help protect our body from the spread of bacteria and viruses in the body. Blood has white blood cells (WBC) that fight against disease-causing bacteria or pathogens that can grow in our body if not killed by WBC.
If you have had a fever before, you may have noticed that you recover faster.Our body has a memory response from previous infections and has learned to fight against the particular pathogen. Immunity of this type is an adaptive immune response due to the presence of T- and B-cells in the body.
observations say that the capacity of the immune system to fight against pathogens in young adults is better than that of an older person. Reduction in the functioning of T cells, thereby degenerate the thymus gland, the production house of T cells in our body.
- Body Composition
A person with an obese or underweight body suffers a reduction in their immune system. Overweight and sedentary people are more likely to have type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart attacks, and high blood pressure.
- Gut Flora
Healthy gut bacteria found in fermented foods like curd, buttermilk, kefir, kombucha, and kimchi will depend on 70 percent of our immune systems. The presence of lactic acid in these will stop the growth of harmful bacteria and pathogens and improve the immune system.
It is inevitable to get away with stress in the current competitive world; from school-going children to seniors, there are one or more factors that generate stress. Our body produces stress hormones like cortisol that reduce the body’s ability to fight infections, making you vulnerable to diseases such as viral fever, cough, and colds due to throat infections. During times of stress, you are more likely to eat quickly cooked junk food that contains chemicals like preservatives, flavours, and taste-creating additives, or to drink alcohol or cold beverages that weaken our immunity.
- Lifestyle factors
A healthy diet with nutritious, balanced foods and a healthy lifestyle will offer better immunity and protection from pathogens and diseases. A healthy diet will provide adequate nourishment to the body and prevent any vitamin or mineral deficiency, while regular exercise or other activity will improve the number of immune cells to protect against pathogens and disease.
The consumption of medicines for chronic diseases like asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, HIV, cancer, and autoimmune disorders can affect the functioning of our immune system by weakening our body’s capacity to fight against infections and pathogens that affects our bodies.