The Lymphatic System
Odds are, the average person knows they have a lymphatic system, and that’s about it. You can’t blame them too much; the lymphatic system is complicated. It runs throughout the body, working side-by-side with the circulatory system, spanning various nodes, organs, and vessels in the body. If your lymphatic system isn’t working properly, it is unable to drain excess toxins and fluids from the body, causing problems such as swollen limbs, tonsillitis, lymphatic cancer, and other conditions. A working lymphatic system balances the body’s fluids, absorbs fat into your system, and helps your body’s immunological defense. Obviously, it is important to keep it in tip-top shape.
When your blood travels throughout your body, it releases fluid from the capillaries. This fluid, called interstitial fluid, provides nutrients and oxygen for the tissues as it flows throughout the body. In response to this generosity, the cells throw their garbage and waste products out for the interstitial fluid to pick up on its way back to the bloodstream. Luckily the interstitial fluid doesn’t mind this treatment and carries this waste back home to the capillaries where 90% of it is reabsorbed. The remaining 10% contains particles too large to pass through the capillary walls, so the lymph system swoops in and sucks it up. With the transfer to a new system in the body, the fluid also gets a name change. Now called lymph, this fluid filters through the lymph nodes and finishes its odyssey back where it started – in the bloodstream.
This process is critical, as the pile-up of waste in the cells can kill them. Without a flowing lymph system, fluid builds up and the body is unable get rid of waste. The waste and fluid itself can cause tissues in the body to swell and can lead to cancer, painfully enlarged organs, or infections throughout the body.