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Your Immune System's 3 Lines of Defense

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

Image of body and germs

No Lysol wipes, no hand sanitizer, no problem.

You hold the most powerful defense mechanism within you, it is called your immune system.

The immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues, and organs that protects the body from infection and disease.

When viruses, bacteria, and other microbes try to invade the body, the immune system targets them while leaving healthy tissues alone. Very intelligent! The immune system does this by recognizing proteins on the surfaces of cells and responding to address the problem.

A healthy immune system includes three lines of defense to protect us against foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria:

1st Line of Defense (both physical and chemical)

Our body's first line of defense helps to protect and remove microbes before they can enter the bloodstream. This includes our skin, hair and mucosal membranes which help to remove microbes before they can enter the body. It also includes chemical substances such as stomach acid, which has an acidic PH to dissolve anything that makes it this far. Think of your first line of defense like a wall that invaders have to get through before entering your territory.

2nd Line of Defense (Nonspecific)

Our body’s second line of defense is nonspecific meaning that it destroys invaders in a generalized way without targeting specific individuals. This includes phagocytic cells, a type of blood cell that will engulf and destroy microbes. Think Pac-man.

It also includes fever, something that many attribute to sickness but is actually a natural way for our bodies to fight infection. It does so by raising the body’s temperature in order to inhibit bacterial growth and promote tissue healing. You may want to think twice before taking a Tylenol the next time you have a fever.

3rd Line of Defense (Acquired Immunity)

Unlike the first two lines of defense, you are not born with the 3rd line of defense. It is learned. The learning process starts when a person’s immune system encounters foreign invaders and recognizes non-self substances (antigens). Acquired immunity is also called specific immunity because it tailors its attack to a specific antigen previously encountered. Its hallmarks are its ability to learn, adapt, and remember. Chickenpox is a perfect example of acquired immunity.

The immune system is something that we want on our side. When an immune response cannot be activated, an infection can develop. This happens when your immune system is suppressed which can be due to a number of reasons.

What we do everyday can be the difference between having an immune system that works for us or against us.

Ways that your immune system becomes compromised and what you can do to turn it around:

  1. Chronic Stress - Stop and take a breath or maybe a few breaths as you meditate. Take 10 minutes out of your day to clear your mind and be in the present. One thing that has really helped me is constantly finding things in my life to be grateful for. Positive thoughts will help calm your body.

  2. Anxiety and Fear - Please turn off the news and go outside for a walk (adequate distancing of course).

  3. Poor Diet - Stay away from processed food and dairy products, two well-known inflammatories. Eat foods that have been shown to boost immunity such as; broccoli, spinach, oranges, garlic and almonds.

  4. Sedentary Lifestyle - Make it a habit to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. If you sit for prolonged periods of time, set an alarm to get up and walk around every hour.

  5. Drinking Alcohol - I have seen the lines for the liquor stores since this quarantine began.

Now more than ever, we need our immune system on our side. So take care of it, because just like your spine, you only get one!

About the Author

Dr. Culig

Dr. Randy Culig is an Upper Cervical Chiropractic specialist. His passion is the study of the human body and it's ability to self maintain, when free of interference. He is currently enrolled in a Y3-year post-graduate program that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of certain neurological conditions related to the craniocervical junction. His practice, Pierce Upper Cervical Chiropractic, is located in Atlanta, GA. For more information visit our website at

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