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What's The Difference Between Innate And Acquired Immunity?

What's The Difference Between Innate And Acquired Immunity?

The human body operates symbiotically, in the sense that all of its processes function together to ensure optimal health. The immune system protects the body against pathogens and other invaders that can cause illness and chronic disease.

The main components involved in immunity are the white blood cells, lymphatic system, spleen, bone marrow, thymus, and antibodies. When all these areas are functioning at their best, the immune system is as well. Two different processes of immunity are utilized by the body to ward off infection: the innate and acquired immunity.

What is innate immunity?

The innate immune function is nonspecific in nature and acts as an initial defense against pathogens. When an antigen appears within the body, the innate immune system is the first responder on the scene, so to speak, acting within hours of a pathogen’s presence. It is the part of the immune system that every person is born with, and functions using a specific set of mechanisms within the body.

These mechanisms include certain physical barriers, such as the skin, gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, and body hair. Other physical barriers involved in innate immunity are found in the upper part of the throat behind the nose and cilia. Other defense mechanisms used in innate immunity include mucous, gastric acid, saliva, tears, and sweat. The specific cells used in innate immunity are phagocytes, whose role is to eat bacteria and other dangerous cells.

Since innate immunity operates in a non-specific way, its responses are always generalized. It works together with the inflammatory response to send blood containing immune cells to infected areas of the body. The complementary part of innate immunity marks certain pathogens so that other immune cells know which ones to destroy; this is the first part of the immune response.


Image by Bru-nO on Pixabay: Innate and acquired immunity work together to defend against pathogens.


What is acquired immunity?

Acquired immunity is built up over time as the body ages and foreign invaders continue to appear. This immune response is the opposite of innate, in the sense that it can target specific cells for destruction.

When an antigen is recognized by the innate system, the acquired immune system can create a group of cells specialized in fighting off that one particular pathogen. It operates using immunological memory. This means that it can remember specific antigens, and if they show up again, the cells to fight them off have already been created.

The acquired immune response utilizes specific cells such as lymphocytes (T and B cells), dendritic cells, and cytokines to seek and destroy pathogens within the body.

What are the roles of innate and acquired immunity?

The role of both the innate and acquired immune systems is to destroy pathogens, but they do it in different ways. Since the innate system acts first, it needs to be alert to the pathogens within the body so that the cells created by acquired immunity know where they’re needed and what they need to destroy.

To put it into perspective, the innate response is the first line of defense, acting as an anti-spreader in the sense that it determines the existence of harmful foreign substances and rushes to stop them from making their rounds throughout the whole body. When innate immunity does its job properly, the acquired immune response can then attack those pathogens using specially created cells.  

What’s the biggest difference between natural and acquired immunity?

As mentioned above, both innate and acquired immunity have their own roles to play in protecting the body. They are like a cellular-level two-person team fighting off infection. The biggest difference between the two is their method of protection, since innate immunity works in a general way and acquired immunity can specialize in the pathogens it fights against.

How can you boost the function of your immune system?

Boosting the immune system can be difficult, especially if it has become weakened or is suffering from a dysfunction known as autoimmunity. This occurs when the immune system misidentifies healthy cells as invaders and triggers an immune response when one isn’t needed. To avoid the downfalls of having a weakened immune system or the risk of developing an autoimmune disease, it’s important to help the immune system run as it should with a few lifestyle changes.

The first way to boost immunity is through diet. The immune system needs a wide variety of vitamins and minerals to function, as do all other processes within the body. Eating a balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables can help boost immunity by keeping your body fueled with the nutrients it needs to function. If it’s not possible to get everything you need through diet alone, supplementing with something such as GenBoost’s new immunity range can help balance deficiencies and keep the immune system running at its best.


Image by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels: You can help your immune system do its job by eating a healthy wholefood diet.


Exercise has also been shown to help regulate immune function because it can help the lungs and airways flush out bacteria more easily, keeping the body safer from pathogens. Physical activity also leads to changes in antibodies and while blood cells that can lead to a stronger response against disease.

Adequate sleep can also play a vital role in the health of the immune system because it can help the body restore itself. It has also been found that sleep reduces level of cortisol within the body, and lower cortisol levels equate to a better immune response.

Other things you can do to boost your immune system include:

  • Avoiding harmful substances such as tobacco and alcohol
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Practicing good hygiene
  • Lowering overall stress levels

Boosting the immune system takes a plethora of different approaches, but when used in conjunction with one another, they can lead to a healthier you.

Featured image by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels

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