Immunity: Self vs Non-self

Have you ever wondered how your immune system works? At the very basis of it, your immune system, when working properly, is designed to be able to recognize what is you and what is not you. It knows what bacteria, etc are part of your normal flora and what is not. Once it decides that something is not a part of you, it destroys it and the body then gets rid of it.

When your immune system isn’t functioning properly, the invaders can take over and you get sick. In autoimmune conditions, the body has its signals mixed up and attacks its own cells in the body.

Most often, when we think of things that can hijack the immune system, we think of environmental pollutants, heavy metals, chemicals found in our food, etc. However, stress, thoughts and emotions also affect the immune system.

Do you remember when you were in school and had to write exams? You would get stressed out, study hard, write your exam, study again, pull all nighters, etc. Finally, when you exams were finished, you’d get sick. This is because the stress decreased your immunity.

When researchers studied people with anger disorders, they found that anger and violent behaviour were linked with inflammation in their body.

The immune system’s role is to identify self and non-self. If negative emotions are regularly part of who you are, it will lead to inflammation, a compromised immune system and eventually, illness.

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