The Lymphatic & Immune Systems Basics

By Riley Romazko

With what is going on today, it is critical now more than ever to understand the body's defense mechanisms. The immune and lymphatic systems are complex networks that work together in keeping the body free of harmful invaders, whether that be pathogens, proteins, damaged or dead cells, and many more. These systems are talented at keeping you alive and well, despite the many detrimental issues humans face every single day. From toxic compounds in the air, water, & soil to pathogenic organisms, we can rely first on our immune and lymphatic systems to battle for our best interests.

Although the immune and lymphatic systems are interrelated, we can look at them as two distinct complexes, with the lymphatic system doing the drainage portion and the immune system doing the fighting portion. The lymphatic system involves the spleen, thymus, tonsils, adenoids, and lymph capillaries and nodes. It is a series of tubes and capillaries that lead up to larger nodules, called lymph nodes, where the lymph fluid is strained, filtered, and sent to the blood. Debris that is too big to enter the blood such as pus, proteins, bacteria, and cancerous cells are prohibited by the lymphatic system. It acts as a club bouncer for the blood stream telling those invaders, "hey kid, you need to leave!" The lymphatic system also plays a role in absorbing fat-soluble nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E, and K. While the lymphatic system is all about movement, there is no pump for it like for the blood. Deep breathing and muscle contractions are the main lymph movers, so keep those breaths and exercise going! Your lymph will thank you.

The immune system on the other hand is more complex, involving more systems, but is generally the first response to any issue going on in the body. It stops those criminals before they do something bad! Mainly operating with the help of the circulatory and lymphatic systems, the immune system consists of both nonspecific (targets any invader) and specific immunity (targets specific invaders from memory cells). Inflammation is the main mechanism of simple immunity and is generally a healthy response, as long as it is short-term (acute) and not long-term (chronic). Inflammation requires the help of white blood cells to form pus and it creates heat, redness, and swelling. Inflammation is also the cause of the fever, cough, runny nose, or any symptoms of illness. Modern medicine usually overreacts to these symptoms of inflammation and suppresses the immune system with drugs and treatments, which can potentially be detrimental. Your cells are working hard to fix the problem and heal the tissues and this is a phenomenal thing!

There are many holistic self-care suggestions to keep your immune and lymphatic systems working at their highest potential. These include, but are not limited to: eating a whole food, plant based diet, taking food-based supplements, drinking at least half your body weight in oz per day of water, getting enough sunshine, "grounding yourself" by walking barefoot on the earth, exercising, avoiding toxic household and cosmetic products, reducing stress, expressing your emotions fully, surrounding yourself with a positive environment, and dry skin brushing. Engaging in a healthy and wholesome lifestyle is beneficial for the body in many ways and your systems will thank you!


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