Meet Your Immune System Cells
70% of your immune system is derived from your digestive tract. Furthermore, 80% of your immune cells are facilitated within the gut biome 1. Therefore, your gut health is crucial to the robustness and dexterity of your immune system. Need more reason to get a gut biome test? Learn a bit more about your immune cells. Maybe then you’ll appreciate your immune system a little more.
How the Immune System Work
The gut-immune axis is a tale as old as time. No, literally. Your immune cells were some of the first microbes formed when you were in utero. They’ve been with you since day one.
This lifelong on-the-job experience has allowed your immune system to create two distinct units to handle intruders of all kinds.
Innate Immune System
Our innate immune system is like the parental instinct of our immune cells. When we encounter a cut, the flu, or an STI, our immune system goes to the old bag of tricks.
First, it incites inflammation. Inflammation is like a controlled brush fire in a National Park. You need to burn off the harmful microbes so that beneficial bacteria can grow.
How The Innate Immune System Works
Based on the intruder, you may experience some of the following symptoms:
- Redness – Oxygenated red blood cells rush to the scene of the crime with immune chemicals in tow
- Fluid Buildup – After some initial work is done, the finishers come in with killer chemicals.
- Heat and Pain – Since we are warm-blooded, the excess blood cells cause flashes of heat. This is followed by pain as your neural receptors are letting your mind to let you know to fix the problem.
The innate immune system is here to handle everything from catching a gastrointestinal illness to wounds caused by a car accident to healing a fracture playing soccer.
It’s like having car insurance for unexpected disasters. Professionals are on duty to help the situation get cleared up. Except, the innate immune system is far cheaper.
While the innate immune system handles the day-to-day, the immune system also has a long-term plan. This plan-of-action is known as the adaptive immune system.
The Adaptive Immune System
The innate system is sort of reactionary, whereas the adaptive is a bit more strategic. It’s an evolutionary approach to handling outside intruders. Humans evolved to have the adaptive immune system to handle potentially catastrophic conditions.
Once your body has a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection, your adaptive immune system figures out the remedy. Once you defeat the infection, your body is prepared to extinguish it the moment that virus or bacteria shows its face in your neck of the woods.
Adaptive immune systems are why we only get one bout of chickenpox in our lives. It’s also how vaccines such as polio work for infants or flu shots potentially work for the elderly. You put a little bit of the virus or bacteria in the system and your body develops a way to defeat it forever.
This exact theory is why scientists say the key to developing a child’s immune system is by letting them play in the dirt and become exposed to microorganisms in our soil 2. Fostering biodiversity among intestinal flora helps boost your adaptive immune response.
How The Adaptive Immune System Works
Once your body defeats an infection, it created a Y-shaped protein known as an antibody. They are released by a group of immune cells that we’ll get into a bit.
As the antibodies get released into the gut biome, their Y-shape attaches the protein to the opportunistic pathogens. Once this happens, the antibody and intruder have a chemical reaction. This reaction alters the genetic makeup of the invader, rendering it useless. As a result, your gut biome is no longer threatened.
Immune Cells in Your Gut BiomeNow that you have a better understanding of how the adaptive and innate immune system work, let’s get to know the immune cells who make it happen. Intestinal flora help facilitate immune cells. They then patrol our gut biome to see if any area is in need of help. Here are some of the key patrollers who keep our intestinal flora and stomach bacteria safe.
This isn’t a member of a popular 90’s trio. T-Cells are crucial pawns in our innate immune system. They are our first line defense when the ish is hitting the fan in our gut biome. When an opportunistic bacteria tries to enter through a wound or someone’s germy sneeze gets a virus on the keyboard that enters through your fingernail, the T-cells are there.
In the chain-of-command, this would be the general manager of the store. Regulatory T-cells oversee the operation by turning inflammation on and off to handle gut biome intruders. The regulatory T-Cells are crucial in ensuring that we don’t suffer from chronic inflammation.
These are the store managers of the group. They instruct other T-Cells and B-Cells where the inflammations are. In addition, Helper T-Cells also include these pawns in on the plan of attack to best close the wound, kill the invader, and rebuild gut flora.
As the name implies, these immune cells go in for the kill. While that sounds violent, there’s a very maternal instinct these immune cells.
Also known as Natural Killer (NK) cells, research indicates:
“NK cells are best known for killing virally infected cells, and detecting and controlling early signs of cancer. As well as protecting against disease, specialized NK cells are also found in the placenta and may play an important role in pregnancy 3.”– British Society for Immunology
NK Cells patrol the system, constantly attaching receptors to ligands on other cells. Based on that reaction, the Killer T-Cell decides whether the other cell in your gut biome lives or dies.
B-Cells work for your adaptive immune system. They maneuever about the gut biome in search of pathogens. Therefore, they are constantly on the lookout for intrusive stomach bacteria that hinder your microbiome from restoring gut flora.
These immune cells have a bunch of tiny Y-shaped receptors on them. They work much like the NK Cells. Once the B-Cells realize a viable threat is within the gut biome, they will shoot the Y-shaped antibodies onto the intruder.
These are the secret weapon of the adaptive immune system. Antibodies are the remedy for every battle your gut biome has won. Your body is equipped with innumerable antibodies prepped to take down the most intrusive virus and stomach bacteria.
Not all antibodies are the same. They all fall under the classification of immunoglobuilin (Ig). However, they are further classified a letter to further distinguish their differences. Do yourself a favor and try not to make meaning of the letters assigned. There isn’t any known to humankind.
IgA is the most common antibodies and comprises a significant portion of your immune system.
There are IgA immune cells present in:
- Breast Milk
- Muscosal Lining of GI Tract
- Urinary Tract
Microbiome Testing for Your Immune System
It’s so easy to take our bodies for granted. Our whole system works so autonomously. However, it needs us too. We can’t just pile up on unhealthy foods, sit in chairs all day, and Netflix all night and not expect our immune system to give up on us!
Now that you have a greater appreciation for your immune system, give it a hand. Try microbiome testing to see which stomach bacteria is causing you gastrointestinal distress. Based on the results of your microbiome testing kit, we will recommend strain-specific probiotics for your gut biome.
With probiotic benefits, you could rebuild gut flora with bacteria that produce healthy immune cells. Kiss nasty cough syrups and habit-forming allergy meds goodbye by supporting your immune system with Ombre.
- 1 Vighi, G., Marcucci, F., Sensi, L., Di Cara, G., & Frati, F. (2008). Allergy and the gastrointestinal system. Clinical and experimental immunology, 153 Suppl 1(Suppl 1), 3–6. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2249.2008.03713.x.
- 2 Garcia-Navarro, Lulu. “’Dirt Is Good’: Why Kids Need Exposure To Germs.” NPR, NPR, 16 July 2017, www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/07/16/537075018/dirt-is-good-why-kids-need-exposure-to-germs.
- 3 “Natural Killer Cells.” British Society for Immunology, www.immunology.org/public-information/bitesized-immunology/cells/natural-killer-cells.
- 4 Valenta, R., Hochwallner, H., Linhart, B., & Pahr, S. (2015). Food allergies: the basics. Gastroenterology, 148(6), 1120–31.e4. doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2015.02.006.