Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Wonders of the Human Immune System

With a recent visit to the USDA food safety lab still fresh in my mind, as well as the growing hooplah about swine flu, coupled with a steady stream of salmonella reports, I've been thinking a lot about my own immune system. I take vitamins, get lots of rest and vitamin C, but I've been wondering how I cna make my own natural defenses even stronger.

There's a lot of good and really bad immunology information out there, but the Life extension website combines practical advice with hard science that is easy to understand. Here is a link to a great immune system boosting article on their website.

From fourth grad science, we all know that our immune system is what keeps germs and diseases out of our bodies. It also attacks transplanted organs, leading doctors and patients to find new ways to suppress immuno-functions in order for transplants to succeed. Kidney patients are a large group who have to go under careful regulation of their own immune system so that they're new kidneys keep working. Drugs like sand-immune must be taken on a regular basis to keep a stable balance between the immune system and the kidney, but it can have ravishing side effects on a patients demeanor, energy-level and other body functions.

I've been thinking a lot about this because kidney disease tends to effect rural patients more frequently than Urban patients, according to data from the Georgia Department of Community Health's Disparities Report. Dialysis requires frequent doctors visits, and a 30-60 mile commute can become a logistical nightmare for a person who i both on dialysis and trying to maintain an active life.

The immune system is a key factor in medicine, and it differs from person to person. This outline by the London Clinic explains the building blocks of the immune system, and I found it really informative. Epidemiologists tend to depend on immune system functioning to better understand the morphology of diseases, but it can also be very helpful to the individual patient to know the system and take some of the mystery out of staying well.