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Immunity Basics

The immune system provides the body with an intricate network of defense mechanisms that allow it to recognize, eliminate or neutralize potentially harmful foreign invaders. There are three main lines of defense: physical barriers such as your skin; non-specific inflammatory responses, in which blood brings chemical substances to injured areas; and specific immune responses, which occur when your body learns to recognize certain invaders and eliminate them if they return.

Friend or Foe

The key to efficient immune response is your body’s ability to distinguish between your own cells and foreign invaders. When immune defenders encounter cells or organisms with “outsider” characteristics, they quickly launch an attack.

Immune System Organs

Lymphoid organs of the immune system are found throughout your body. They’re home to lymphocytes (B-cells and T-cells), the small white blood cells that are key players in your immune system.

  • GALT (Gut-associated lymphoid tissue): Over 2/3 of your total immune system cells are found in your intestinal lining. GALT interacts with friendly bacteria to optimize immune function.
  • Lymph nodes: There are about 500 to 700 of these small, bean-shaped glands located in areas such as your neck, groin, underarms and abdomen. They produce and store infection-fighting cells and lymph, the clear fluid that carries these cells throughout the body.
  • Thymus: A small organ located just behind your breastbone, this is where your T-cells (“t” for “thymus”) develop. When activated, T-cells transform from harmless immune cells into killer cells that seek out and destroy all traces of invaders.
  • Spleen: Your spleen is located in the upper-left part of your abdomen and is about the size of your fist. It contains white blood cells that fight infection and destroys old or damaged red blood cells.
  • Bone Marrow: The yellow tissue in the center of your bones is responsible for making white blood cells that are destined to become lymphocytes.

Immunity Health Tips

Get Enough Rest

Sleep experts agree that most people need at least seven hours of sleep a night to function at their best. Missing out on deep sleep has been linked to a laundry list of health issues, including those that result from an impaired immune system. Studies show that sleep deprivation can alter the immune response. Levels of white blood cells, T- and B-lymphocytes, and immunoglobulins have all been shown to be altered by sleep deprivation.


In a recent study of more than 1000 adults, people who exercised at least five days a week had 43% fewer upper respiratory tract symptoms than those who exercised one day a week or less. Even when they got sick, frequent exercisers reported symptoms that were one-third less severe.
Exercise may improve immunity in several ways:

    • Helping flush bacteria out of your lungs reducing the risk of respiratory infections and viruses Speeding up antibody and white blood cell response. Faster-circulating blood may also activate hormones that warn immune cells of intruding bacteria or viruses.
    • Raising body temperature, which may prevent bacterial growth and allow your body to fight infection more effectively.
    • Slowing down the release of stress-related hormones that increase the chance of illness.

Practice Good Hygiene

Washing your hands often during the day can go a long way toward protecting you from germs and bacteria. Other practical suggestions --. Wipe down gym equipment before and after you use it. Carry a personal sanitizer. Use sanitizing wipes to de-germ your grocery cart.

Stay Hydrated

Drink six to eight glasses of water a day. A well-hydrated system delivers oxygen and nutrients to your cells, while flushing out bacteria and other harmful substances.

Supplement Wisely

Your immune system works hard to keep you healthy. A core component is balancing harmful with beneficial bacteria in your intestines, important because 70% of your immune system exists in your digestive tract. Schiff Digestive Advantage® solutions create an optimal environment for health by providing daily helpful bacteria called probiotics. Digestive Advantage solutions are specially formulated to withstand your stomach’s acidic environment. And remember to keep Airborne® on hand so you’re ready to support your immune system.

Support your body’s protective mechanisms to stay at your healthy best all year around.

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