Some information about the Thymus and Immune system. The thymus is a specialized primary lymphoid organ of the immune system. Within the thymus, thymus cell lymphocytes or T cells mature. The thymus is located in the upper front part of the chest, in the anterior superior mediastinum, behind the sternum, and in front of the heart.
The thymus is a soft, pink, bilobed gland enclosed in a connective tissue capsule and located in front of the aorta and above the heart. It lies behind to the upper part of the sternum. The thymus is in a part of the chest known as the mediastinum, the space in the chest between the lungs that also contains the heart, part of the aorta, the esophagus (the tube that connects the throat to the stomach), part of the trachea (windpipe), and many lymph nodes.
The thymic lobules house many lymphocytes. Most of these cells (thymocytes) are inactive; however, some mature into T lymphocytes (T cells), which leave the thymus and provide immunity. Epithelial cells in the thymus secrete hormones called thymosins, that affect the production, differentiation of certain white blood cells (lymphocytes) and stimulate maturation of T lymphocytes. In this way, the thymus plays an important role in immunity.
Other lymphocytes remain in the red bone marrow until they differentiate into B lymphocytes, or B cells. The blood distributes B cells, which constitute 20% to 30% of circulating lymphocytes.
Since there’s no classical symptom pattern or lab tests that indicate a weakened thymus, there’s no medical diagnosis for thymus deficiency based on clinical signs and symptoms like there is for hypothyroidism. But researchers are sure about one thing: the size of the thymus affects the number of T cells in your blood. A smaller thymus produces fewer T cells resulting in a reduced immune response.
No one knows why the thymus functions at its peak when we’re young and weakens as we age. You would think it would stay strong throughout life, or even adapt and strengthen with age. But this weakened characteristic may explain why COVID-19 has fewer effects on children whose thymus is fully functional, and why the elderly succumbs easier. Our thymus atrophies as we age and its function becomes immunologically weaker.
The primary function of the thymus gland is helping develop T-lymphocytes (“T” is for thymus).
The bone marrow produces immature T cells that make their way through the bloodstream to the thymus, where they mature into functional T cells essential for first-line immunity against foreign cells, including viruses.
T cells play vital roles across the spectrum of immunity. They are involved in the inflammatory cascade, the vaccination response, and in allergies and autoimmunity. T cells are also implicated in gut dysbiosis, impaired metabolism, tissue repair, and maintaining a healthy pregnancy.
The thymus gland may look simple but it’s highly complex. Within the thymic lobules, T cell recruits are selected for competency and graduate as CD4+ “helper” or CD8+ “killer” lymphocytes. The balance between CD4 and CD8 is critical for resistance to viral infections.
DIET, MINERALS AND VITAMINES
Zinc plays an essential role in growth and development and is necessary for a healthy immune system. A zinc deficiency causes reduced T cell function, slower wound healing, and other immune system defects. Zinc is first line therapy for thymus restoration.
Vitamin A supports the thymus and stimulates the immune response. Daily supplementation with high dose vitamin C maintains the size and weight of the thymus and increases the number of T cells. You also need enough selenium for immunity against viruses and cancer.
Astragaloside IV is an extract of the traditional Chinese medicine Huangqi (Astragalus membranaceous). Traditionally, Huangqi is used to improve energy, build stamina, and prevent common illnesses like a cold or the flu, and to slow aging. Astragalus contains numerous biochemically active compounds, including polysaccharides, flavonoids, and saponins. These compounds increase telomerase activity, have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immunoregulatory effects. Research using the proprietary extract Astragaloside IV (TA-65) found a significant age-reversal effect in the immune system. Both TA-65 and generic Astragaloside IV are available as nutritional supplements.
The Thymus hormones are hormones produced by the thymus.
They are generally small proteins, which regulate the development and selection of an immune-competent repertoire of T cells, and stimulate antibody production by B cells. They are important for immune system development and function and also the development of other tissues.
T cells are generated in the thymus and exported to peripheral lymphoid organs, a process that is under hormonal control. In this article, the authors discuss the mechanisms of thymus-specific T-cell development and how hormone therapy can counteract the effects of ageing and disease on thymus function.
BODY AND MIND
Not only does regular physical activity support a healthy immune system, but it also releases feel-good hormones that help counteract stress. Positive health behaviors, solid nutrition and a good outlook on life are associated with improved immune function.
One of the things we can do to maximise our immune response is to improve our fitness and incorporate more exercise. What type of lifestyle and health habits have an influence to our levels of immunity – do not expect to sit in front of a television will help to make you healthier. Be active daily. Regular movement benefits your physical, social and emotional wellbeing. Not all people are the same. Break away from your normal routine on a daily basis. No one size fits all and it is important to find activities that suit your health needs, level of ability and confidence, are enjoyable and can be done easily and often at home and take your age into account. Physical activity boosts circulation, improves flexibility, improves strength and improves balance. Our joints and muscles need regular exercise to stay in shape.
- Brisk walking in a safe park
- Cycling a bike (in or outdoors) – Outdoors are better.
- Dancing or Hiking in nature
- Water aerobics or even playing Bowls
Buy and eat what you can afford. Try to eat more fruit and vegetables, protein-rich foods for your muscles like poultry and fish, dairy products with calcium and vitamin D for healthy bones, healthy unsaturated fats such as olive oil, nuts, low salt and foods rich in fibre like porridge.
Vitamin D is essential to our immune system.
DE-STRESS – RELAX AND TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF
Stress affects our immune system and reduces our ability to fight infection. Listen to music or read a book. Or go for a walk with your dog or family members.
It is said that the flood of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol can interfere with the body’s ability to produce antibodies. The best way to combat stress: Take a deep breath and get plenty of rest.
Inhale through your nose for a count of five and feel your belly, ribs and chest expand. Keep it in for a few seconds. Then exhale through your nose for a count of eight and feel the muscles of your chest, ribs and lower belly contract.