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Discovery Magazine 4/1/2001

Your Natural Defense

The United States of America is blessed to have numerous men and women in the armed forces. The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines are branches of the national defense system that help keep us safe from harm. In World War II, these military branches performed courageously and defeated the foreign invaders. Today, they stand on guard, ready to battle if our country is ever attacked.

Similar to our national defense system, the human body possesses a line of natural defense that helps protect it from pathogens (disease causing agents). Pathogens are all around us. The live in the air we breathe, on the food we eat, and in the bed we sleep. They are even on our bodies. Because germs and harmful bacteria surround us, you may wonder why we aren’t sick all of the time. The reason is because God created us with an amazing defense system.

Your skin is the first level of defense. It functions as a natural barrier to pathogens. The skin performs its job effectively unless it is cut or punctured. If this happens, it is necessary to wash the wound immediately to flush out whatever harmful bacteria entered the body.

Your mucous and ciliated membranes also function as a natural barrier. The mucous membranes produce sticky mucus that traps germs. Then, tiny, hair-like cilia push the germs to the mouth where they can be expelled by coughing.

If pathogens manage to slip through the first two barriers, another branch of the defense system takes over. White blood cells called lymphocytes (LIM-fuh-sites) and phagocytes (FAG-uh-sites) fight together against disease. The lymphocytes produce antibodies that attach themselves to germs and identify them with a chemical coating. Then the phagocytes surround the "tagged" germs and digest them with powerful enzymes.

Although we sometimes still get sick and have to go to the doctor, the natural defense system that God installed in each of us defeats many pathogens that would otherwise make us sick. Isn’t the human body a marvelous creation of God? As the psalmist said long ago, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14). Remember to thank God for giving you such an incredible body.



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