Immunity (lat. immunitas – liberation) is the resistance of multicellular organisms to infection or disease, the capability to resist harmful microorganisms.
Immunity involves both specific (adaptive or acquired) and nonspecific (innate) components. The nonspecific components act as barriers or eliminators of a wide range of pathogens irrespective of their antigenic make-up. The adaptive components of the immune system adapt themselves to each new disease encountered and can generate pathogen-specific immunity. Innate immunity is present in all multicellular animals, while adaptive immunity is found only in vertebrates.
Innate immunity is the defense with which we are born, which is why it is called innate. It allows us to enter this world, does not require prior exposure to an antigen, and reacts immediately to foreign organisms.
The innate (nonspecific) immunity is the same in all people and reacts in the same way to any “enemies”. The reaction begins immediately after the penetration of the microbe into the body and does not form an immunological memory. That is, if the same microbe enters the body again, the nonspecific immunity system “does not recognize” it and will react “as usual”. Nonspecific immunity is very important – it is the first to signal danger and immediately begins to repulse the penetrated microbes.
However, these reactions cannot protect the body from serious infections, so after nonspecific immunity, acquired immunity comes into play. Here, the reaction of the body is individual for each “enemy”, therefore, the “arsenal” of specific immunity in different people differs and depends on what kind of infections a person has encountered in life and what vaccinations he did.
Acquired immunity is called adaptive, i.e. it allows us to survive in this world. It takes time to develop and a preliminary encounter with antigens. Then he remembers the contact and, when he meets the same antigen again, he responds faster, preventing the disease from developing again.
Adaptive immunity takes time to study the infection that has entered the body, so reactions at the first contact with the infection develop more slowly, but they work much more efficiently. But the most important thing is that, once destroying a microbe, the immune system “remembers” it and the next time it encounters the same, it reacts much faster, often destroying it even before the first symptoms of the disease appear.
There are two types of immunity: active and passive.
Active Immunity results when exposure to a disease organism triggers the immune system to produce antibodies to that disease. Active immunity can be acquired through natural immunity or vaccine-induced immunity.
Passive Immunity is provided when a person is given antibodies to a disease rather than producing them through his or her own immune system.
The diagram below summarizes these divisions of immunity. Adaptive immunity recognizes more diverse patterns. Unlike innate immunity it is associated with memory of the pathogen
Immunity is the ability of the immune system to rid the body of genetically foreign objects. Immunity is inherent in a person from birth. Immunity is a complex biological system that can recognize and tolerate everything that belongs to the self, as well as recognize and reject that which is foreign (not-self). The immune system also controls the development of cancer cells, timely detecting and destroying those that grow uncontrollably. The effectiveness of the immune system depends on heredity, but proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle can significantly increase its activity.
Organs that are part of the immune system: lymph nodes, tonsils, thymus gland (thymus), bone marrow, spleen. Scientists have found that most of the protective cells are located in the intestine – 80%.
The strength of immunity is 50% dependent on the lifestyle that a person leads.
Factors negatively affecting immunity:
- prolonged stress;
- bad habits;
- poor nutrition (fasting, overeating);
- deficiency of vitamins and minerals;
- physical overload;
- suffered injuries, burns, operations;
- environmental pollution;
- uncontrolled drug use
Does stress affect immunity? – Yes. Scientists distinguish between positive (eustress) and negative (distress) forms of stress. The second type can just disrupt the normal functioning of the immune system. Chronic stress, in any case, depresses the immune system quite strongly, since stress hormones reduce the protective capacity of the immune system. For example, low air temperature in winter is stressful for the body. The body reacts to stress with a decrease in immunity. If initially the immunity is weak, then the body has very little strength to fight and the viruses attack and the person gets sick (i.e., symptoms of the disease appear). But if the immune system is strong, then its slight weakening does not affect its active fight against viruses and symptoms do not appear.
According to the WHO, only 10% of people have immunity, which protects them from almost all diseases. Another 10% have congenital immunodeficiency: they get sick very often. For the remaining 80%, the strength of the immune system depends on conditions and lifestyle.
Frequent colds, herpes on the lips, prolonged fever, chronic fatigue syndrome, drowsiness or insomnia, pain in the joints and muscles, sleep disturbances, frequent headaches, the appearance of skin rashes are all signs of a decrease in immune activity.
According to Ayurveda, the source of immunity is Ojas, a subtle energy that gives growth and life to the body, all its tissues and controls all its functions. This subtle substance nourishes the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies, and its imbalance is called the fall of immunity by modern science. Rasayanas, or Ayurvedic dietary supplements, are considered to be a proven way to strengthen the immune system for thousands of years. Their recipes, recorded in ancient texts, can contain up to 70 medicinal plants that affect all vital systems. Our physical immunity is directly related to the psychological and spiritual aspect. Therefore, in addition to proper nutrition and lifestyle, it is necessary to work on your subtle body. Thus, immunity is the maintenance of harmony in the mind and body.