The immune system acts to protect the host from infectious agents, and so the inability to mount an appropriate immune response increases susceptibility to, and severity of, infections. This entry describes the importance of specific nutrients or nutrient classes in creating an environment in which the immune system can function optimally.

Structure, Function, and Activity of the Immune System

The immune system protects the host from environmental infectious agents such as pathogenic bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. It also permits tolerance to “self” and to nonthreatening environmental agents such as food proteins and commensal gut bacteria. The system has 2 functional divisions: the innate (or natural) immune system and the acquired (also termed specific or adaptive) immune system. Both components involve various cells and blood-borne factors. ...

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