Immunity, Antibodies, Inflammation—what’s the difference and why should you care?
Here’s why—a little knowledge about how the immune system works (or is supposed to work) when confronted with a pathogen (like the COVID-19 virus) may go a long way in helping alleviate fear about contracting it. Bonus, you may be inspired to learn that our immune systems are pretty awesome indeed, and we might just want to give it the credit it’s due.
So, let’s get started. First—we all know that the immune system is what fights viruses and bacteria, right. But did you know that your immune system also fights cancer? Yep, when a cell goes rogue and starts forming a tumor, a healthy fine-tuned immune system is designed detect it and destroy it, before the tumor gets out of control.
Here’s another underrated way our immune system protects us: When we get a cut, it’s our immune system that releases chemicals to tell us, ouch, that is painful and we (immune cells) better send some cells to the area to make sure it doesn’t get infected. These chemicals that the immune system releases that cause pain, redness and swelling are called cytokines, which is simply a term for chemicals that cells use to communicate with each other. (cyto = cell, kine = movement, as in moving information from cell to cell).
Cytokines are neither good nor bad, they simply tell the cells what to do. Some cause inflammation, some quell inflammation. There are many different types of cytokines. It’s when this communication system goes haywire that problems can arise.
So, back to the immune system. A perfectly orchestrated immune system will detect a threat (like the COVID virus), launch an attack and then settle back down when the threat is gone. In other words, a well-tuned immune system is ADAPTABLE. Imagine all the viruses, bacteria, parasites, rogue cells—all those strange things the immune system has to protect against—it has to be exquisitely flexible in order to fight off bad stuff while protecting healthy tissue. Unfortunately, in many people, it doesn’t work that way.
For COVID-19, as an example, many people have experienced what is called a “cytokine storm” which means the immune system cannot activate the kill switch, even if the virus is gone.
It’s the equivalent of the immune system getting revved up and then the gas pedal gets stuck and it can’t slow down. The unfortunate result is that the immune system ends up causing so much inflammation that the healthy tissue is damaged, often beyond repair, and sometimes to the point of death.
You can see now how inflammation caused by the immune system is neither inherently good nor bad—it is simply a function of the immune system that needs to remain flexible. Early inflammation (caused by cytokines) can help to fight the virus. But lingering or unchecked inflammation can be deadly. It is just as important for the immune system to ramp up as it is for it to ramp back down. That is an ADAPTABLE immune system. (Not to be confused with the adaptive immune response, which is a different concept—it refers to antibody memory, a topic for another post).
There is a way to measure the adaptability of your immune cells, (also called the cell-mediated immune response). It is called the Immunidex. SpectraCell Laboratories measures Immunidex in every MicroNutrient Test it performs. It is actually the first step in a very comprehensive measure of immune cell function. A higher Immunidex score means your immune cells (T-lymphocytes, to be exact) can effectively respond to an outside stimulus when prompted.
SpectraCell has been measuring immune function for almost 30 years. It is not a new concept, just an underrated one. Discover what your Immunidex score is by getting the SpectraCell Micronutrient Test TODAY!