10 Fascinating and interesting facts about the immune system

Your body is hard at work, day and night, protecting you against disease and infection. At the basic level, your skin and mucous membranes provide barriers to bacteria entering your system and, if they do get in, then you have white blood cells, or lymphocytes, which are able to identify harmful bacteria and call to arms your immune system to track and kill any germs. If we didn’t have an immune system, then we simply couldn’t survive, and here are some facts about the human immune system that you probably didn’t know about:

1. Too little sleep will affect your immune system

Not sleeping enough depresses the effectiveness of your immune system. So, if you’ve been burning the candle at both ends and not getting a good, solid night’s sleep, you will be far more susceptible to contracting colds and other diseases.

2. Chicken soup really is good for you when you are sick

The chicken soup remedy for colds is not just an old wives’ tale. A scientific study found that the combination of vegetables and chicken, in soup, can actually work with your immune system and help to reduce the inflation that is caused by colds and other respiratory diseases.

3. Being too clean can hinder your immune system

Many of us are obsessed with cleanliness these days and we use antibacterial soaps, wipes and hand sanitizers far more often, than we should. Too much washing and cleansing can actually let bacteria in, because you break down the natural oils in your skin that act as a barrier against bacteria. Viruses also adapt, so if we all stay too clean, they will just become super viruses, so they will still find a way into your body!

4. Working out makes you more susceptible to infection

Germs can be spread easily in a gym, especially if people don’t wipe down equipment after they’ve used it. But things are made worse, because when you work out, your body releases cortisol and adrenaline, which can temporarily reduce the effectiveness of your immune system.

5. Autoimmune disease affects more women, than it does men

Autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease and psoriasis, are those diseases where the immune system becomes hyperactive and can start attacking healthy the cells and tissue in your body. Around 5% of the population suffer from these diseases and of those, around 7% are women.

6. Some people are born with no immune system

The 1976 film, The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, starring John Travolta told the fictional story of a boy who suffered from a disease called severe combined immunodeficiency, or (SCID). Although the story is fictional, the disease is very real and about 1 in every 100,000 people born are born with severe impairments to their immune system.

7. How vaccinations were pioneered

Vaccinations work by giving you a very small infection of a disease, which triggers your body to produce anti-bodies to that particular disease. It was an English physician, Edward Jenner, who first pioneered vaccinations by inoculating an 8 year old boy with the pus from cowpox lesions on another patients’ arms, which he discovered gave the young boy immunity to smallpox.

8. Happy and healthy relationship improves your immune system

Healthy and happy relationship with your partner can give your immune system a boost, as all the happy moments that you live together increase the production of a endorphins, or happy hormones in your body, and this ‘feel good’ feeling is very beneficial for your health.

9. An allergy is the immune system getting things wrong

An allergy is caused when the body overreacts to an allergen that it really should ignore. The immune system goes into overdrive when exposed to allergens, such as pollen, nuts or animal fur and produces the side effects of watery eyes, headaches and swelling.

10. It’s not the cold that gives you the symptoms, it’s your immune system

When you catch a cold and you get a fever, the fever is a sign that your immune system is doing its job properly. A fever releases the bacteria fighting white blood cells in your body and increases your metabolism to give you the strength to fight off the infection.

Do you know some other interesting facts about the immune system?

Stay happy and healthy!

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