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Understanding How Your Immune System Works (A Cartoon Story)


Ever wonder how your immune system works and how to improve its functioning? Here is a basic outline told in cartoon superhero style.

The immune centers of your body are located in the tonsils, thymus, spleen, and bone marrow.
Image showing where the bodies
immune centers are located

  • The Tonsils are thought to be the first line of defense against ingested or inhaled diseases, however, their full role in the immune system is yet to be understood.2,3
  • The Thymus is involved with the proper functioning of certain immune cells called T-lymphocytes or (T Cells).
  • The Spleen filters the blood for diseases, foreign materials, also called "antigens".4
  • The Bone Marrow is responsible for producing leukocytes, cells which are responsible for capturing cellular debris, foreign particles, and invading microorganisms.


From these centers your immune cells circulate around your body, looking for the "bad guys", foreign bodies, or antigens which can appear in the form of viruses, bacteria, and even pollen.
Cartoon depiction of various antigens



When a disease is found by your immune cells their response depends both on the disease and on the particular immune cell.
Cartoon of the immune system recognizing a disease



Phagocytes (a type of white blood cell) actually engulf, absorb, or eat pathogens. Phagocytes also consume "dead cells" in our body, and play an important roll in allowing wounds to heal.
Cartoon of a phagocyte absorbing an antigen



Lymphocytes attack antigens by creating antibodies, or toxic granules.
Cartoon of a lymphocyte attacking an antigen



Lymphocytes also destroy cells which have been infected by a virus, and tag antigens to be attacked later.
Cartoon of lymphocytes destroying an infected cell and tagging an
antigen for deletion



After defeating a particular disease lymphocytes will keep a profile and remember the disease throughout your life. Should it appear again, they will quickly eliminate it.
Cartoon of memory database demonstrating how immune cells remember
antigens so they can defeat them quickly if they enter the body again



This memory effect of immune cells led to the idea of a vaccine: weakened antigens which could be injected into your body.
Cartoon of weakened antigens representing a vaccine



Your immune system can then "practice" on this weakened form of a disease.
Cartoon of weakened antigens representing a vaccine



The next time a disease enters your body, your immune system draws upon its memory to quickly defeat it.
Cartoon of weakened antigens representing a vaccine
Common vaccines include the measles, mumps, chicken pox, and, Tetanus.



What foods boost my immune system?

  • Vitamin A plays a key role in production of white blood cells, vital for fighting off infection. Vitamin A Foods include carrots, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes.
  • Vitamin C can help boost the immune system, particularly in endurance atheletes and those undergoing physical stress. Vitamin C Foods include chilies, guavas, bell peppers, broccoli, papayas, and strawberries.
  • Zinc, among other immune functions, is necessary for the creation and activation of lymphocytes. Zinc has also been shown to help alleviate symptoms of the common cold, and may even accelerate the time to recovery. High Zinc Foods include Oysters, wheat germ, sesame seeds, pumpkin and squash seeds, peanuts, and dark chocolate.




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    Comments.
    Name:April Garcia
    Location:Selma High
    Subject:School
    I love the pictures on here, they are very awsome and have great detail.
    Posted on 2011-04-01 11:34:42
    Name:Dr S K
    Location:India
    Subject:Lage Raho
    Good Job man! I like that type of work, really easy 4 kids to understand.
    Posted on 2011-09-21 13:05:38
    Name:Kenzie Taylor
    Location:Canada
    Subject:Thanks!
    Great article! Really helped with my school project :) Keep up the good work!
    Posted on 2011-11-20 13:59:21
    Name:Anonymous Bob
    Location:Canada
    Subject:Amazing Pitures
    Really cool and helpful. Thanks!
    Posted on 2011-12-06 21:06:30
    Name:Shujauddin
    Location:Bangalore
    Subject:Good Work
    It's lovely, that is something which I always wanted to have for easy memorization....Wonderful job.
    Posted on 2012-01-05 19:36:42
    Name:Super G
    Location:Virgina
    Subject:stuff
    Really cool pictures, you should make more for more subjects!
    Posted on 2012-02-28 16:21:11
    Name:Nana
    Location:Ghana
    Subject:Incredible!
    Highly commendable. Keep it up.
    Posted on 2012-03-31 15:43:11
    Name:Thanh Luu
    Location:FVHS
    Subject:Great Idea
    This really helped me in my Life Sciences class...thank you very much.
    Posted on 2012-04-26 19:45:13
    Name:Annie
    Location:UK
    Subject:Brilliant!
    I'm a medical degree student and found this very useful, informative, and entertaining after long hours of revision from plain, complex textbooks! Thank you for making my revision period slightly more enjoyable!
    Posted on 2013-03-10 22:34:07
    Name:Jennifer
    Location:USA
    Subject:LUPUS
    Could you please add more pictures to this story showing how the immune system becomes confused and begins attacking healthy normal cells, the Story of Lupus. It would really be helpful for Lupus Awareness.
    Posted on 2013-07-24 13:54:37
    Name:Caryl
    Location:USA
    Subject:LUPUS
    Yes please add more pictures on the site, with more foods/fruits that can stengthen the immune system. Thanks
    Posted on 2013-10-01 15:41:26

    Post a comment.
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    Comments.
    Name:April Garcia
    Location:Selma High
    Subject:School
    I love the pictures on here, they are very awsome and have great detail.
    Posted on 2011-04-01 11:34:42
    Name:Dr S K
    Location:India
    Subject:Lage Raho
    Good Job man! I like that type of work, really easy 4 kids to understand.
    Posted on 2011-09-21 13:05:38
    Name:Kenzie Taylor
    Location:Canada
    Subject:Thanks!
    Great article! Really helped with my school project :) Keep up the good work!
    Posted on 2011-11-20 13:59:21
    Name:Anonymous Bob
    Location:Canada
    Subject:Amazing Pitures
    Really cool and helpful. Thanks!
    Posted on 2011-12-06 21:06:30
    Name:Shujauddin
    Location:Bangalore
    Subject:Good Work
    It's lovely, that is something which I always wanted to have for easy memorization....Wonderful job.
    Posted on 2012-01-05 19:36:42
    Name:Super G
    Location:Virgina
    Subject:stuff
    Really cool pictures, you should make more for more subjects!
    Posted on 2012-02-28 16:21:11
    Name:Nana
    Location:Ghana
    Subject:Incredible!
    Highly commendable. Keep it up.
    Posted on 2012-03-31 15:43:11
    Name:Thanh Luu
    Location:FVHS
    Subject:Great Idea
    This really helped me in my Life Sciences class...thank you very much.
    Posted on 2012-04-26 19:45:13
    Name:Annie
    Location:UK
    Subject:Brilliant!
    I'm a medical degree student and found this very useful, informative, and entertaining after long hours of revision from plain, complex textbooks! Thank you for making my revision period slightly more enjoyable!
    Posted on 2013-03-10 22:34:07
    Name:Jennifer
    Location:USA
    Subject:LUPUS
    Could you please add more pictures to this story showing how the immune system becomes confused and begins attacking healthy normal cells, the Story of Lupus. It would really be helpful for Lupus Awareness.
    Posted on 2013-07-24 13:54:37
    Name:Caryl
    Location:USA
    Subject:LUPUS
    Yes please add more pictures on the site, with more foods/fruits that can stengthen the immune system. Thanks
    Posted on 2013-10-01 15:41:26

    Post a comment.
    Name:          
    Location:       
    Email:(Optional)
    Subject:         

    Spam Prevention *(REQUIRED):
    Enter the last three letters of this sentence.

    References

    1. About the Immune System from Body and Mind.gov
    2. Journal of the Wakayama Medical Society - [Study on functions of tonsils in mucosal immune system of the upper respiratory tract using a novel animal model, Suncus murinus.] - VOL.52;NO.4;PAGE.361-367(2001)
    3. Tonsils and adenoids are immune system glands...' [Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide - Page: 1006 ] - 1995
    4. The Immune System at The Body.com