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First defense barriers of the body and how to strengthen them

When there is an entry of foreign body into the body, whether it be a germ or a toxic substance, they are faced off by our immune system. In fighting a disease, there are two types of immunity: mainly

Innate immunity which is the immediate response to an infection and we are all born with it and adaptive or acquired immunity which develops after first exposure with an infection and produces antibodies against the germs the next time it enters.

We will be talking about the innate immunity or natural immunity in this article on how they work and how we can strengthen this system.

 The first line of defenses

The first line of defenses is what we can easily see from the outside and through which a tiny particle of germ can easily enter. They include:

  • Skin

Skin is the largest organ in the body. It serves as a giant fort, covering and protecting the body from any possible harmful substances. It is also waterproof. Naturally, both the good and bacteria cohabit on the skin. However, as long as the skin is intact, no germ can enter into the body.

  • Respiratory system

The respiratory system has many natural defenses. The nose responds to a foreign particle by sneezing. Or it can produce mucus and swallow the particle whole. That is why a runny nose and mucous production happens. If the particle is not removed by these mechanisms, the trachea contains small hairs called cilia which cannot be seen with naked eye. They have the ability to sweep away the germs and particles.

  • Digestive system

Similarly, digestive system has its own natural defense system. We vomit when we ingest something that is harmful to our body. Moreover, the gut consists of the mucous lining which is a barrier between the gut and blood so that infections don’t easily enter into the bloodstream. There is also stomach acids that can effectively kill many kinds of infections.

Along the epithelial lining of the digestive system, there are many living good bacteria.  We can safely say the stomach and intestines are filthiest internal organs in the body. A lot of guarding mechanisms reside here to prevent the spread of germs from this area.

 What can we do for a great first line of immunity?

  1. Skin
    • Sunlight can be very harmful to the skin. Free radicals and oxidants results from repeated exposure to sunlight can damage the skin and compromise the immune system. Putting on sunscreen, consumption of the antioxidants; Vitamin C and vitamin E rich food can help protect the skin.
    • Dehydration can also cause wrinkling of the skin and it becomes more vulnerable to the infections. It’s important to hydrate yourself throughout the day.
    • Skin needs constant renewal. Shedding old skin cells and replacing with new skin cells is crucial to a germ resistant physical barrier. For forming new cells, amino acids are necessary, therefore the adequate intake of protein is also important.
    • Skin problems can facilitate entry of germs. Proper and fast wound healing is important and collagen can accelerate wound healing. Vitamin C and zinc can also help with the wound healing.
  2. Respiratory system
    The air we breathe contains dust, particles and many infectious germs. For us to be able to withstand the aerial pollution, we need to boost our respiratory immunity as well.

    • Vitamin E – Vitamin E in nuts can reduce inflammation in cells and relieve the tracheal congestion. It also has antioxidant properties, therefore protect the respiratory cells from injury. It also aids in transfer of oxygen by the red blood cells.
    • Vitamin A – Vitamin A is mostly found in green and yellow fruits and it can improve asthma and protects against cell injury.
    • Vitamin C – A good antioxidant, vitamin C can also lessen cell turnover.
    • Magnesium – It can improve the elasticity of bronchi and bronchioles and facilitate entry of more air into the lungs.
  3. Digestive system
    • Good bacteria (probiotics) – They can be found in many milk and milk products. Probiotics in the gut lining can reduce the risk of stomach problems and diarrhea.
    • Prebiotics – They are food for the good bacteria (probiotics) and they can be easily found in many fermented foods such as kimchi. Probiotics can maintain the gut health while prebiotics are necessary to nourish and populate the healthy bacteria.
    • Vitamin C – It can reduce cell injury in stomach and intestines.
    • Zinc – It promotes wound healing in gut epithelial lining. Zinc can also quicken the recovery time after diarrheal episodes.

Natural immune defenses need to be strong to reduce the risk for any kind of infections. The habits and methods mentioned above can improve the immune system in every way. It is best if you eat whole organic food but for older people or those with underlying diseases who are unable to consume enough nutritious food, meal replacements and supplements are great alternatives.