Almost everyone knows that our blood transports oxygen and nutrients to the body's cells and flows into arteries and veins - but there is also a second liquid transport system. While it does not contain as much fluid as the bloodstream, it is all the more important for the immune system and the removal of waste. We are talking about the lymphatic system, which supplies the human cells with vitamins, nutrients and fats with the lymph.
Lymphatic system and lymph: what exactly is it?
The lymphatic system includes on the one hand lymph and lymphatic system, on the other hand, the lymphatic organs that produce certain immune cells (lymphocytes) and change as needed. When our blood flows back into the tiniest veins through the tiniest arteries and capillaries, there is always some fluid left between the cells. This tissue fluid provides our cells with vitamins, nutrients and fats. Conversely, cells release degradation products and cell debris to this fluid, as well as pathogens and foreign substances are removed from the cells.
Up to 2 liters of this liquid are produced per day, it is pale yellow and is called a lymph. This pollutant-enriched fluid is not returned directly to the blood, but transported in its own vascular system and filtered in intermediate control stations, the lymph nodes, and examined for pathogens.
Lymphatic vessels in the lymphatic system
As the lymph nodes store a large part of our immune cells, the lymphocytes, they are alarmed when they come into contact with pathogens, multiply and can prevent the spread of the pathogens. The lymphatic vessels run parallel to the veins of the body, begin as the smallest lymphatic vessels in the tissue and unite to ever larger lymph channels. The largest lymphatic pathway ends above the heart in the superior vena cava and is called the thoracic duct.
While smaller lymph nodes are involved in the vascular system, there are larger lymph node collections in the groin and axillary region, at the neck and in the abdomen, where the collected lymph is filtered. From there it will be transported further in larger vessels.
Function of the lymph
Interestingly, the lymph also has the function to absorb all food fats in the abdomen. After a high-fat meal, the lymphatic fluid from the gastrointestinal tract is no longer clear and transparent, but due to the high fat content milky cloudy. A large part of the dietary fat is thus bypassed the liver, so does not enter the blood and reaches as an energy source all cells. In case of premature contact with the liver, this would immediately remove and rebuild the dietary fats and this important source of energy would be lost to the cells.
In addition to the lymph nodes, the lymphatic organs also include the spleen, the bone marrow, the thymus, the tonsils and other lymphoid follicles (collections of lymphocytes in the intestinal mucosa or the appendix).