In our last Blog post we discussed the important roles of the lymphatic system and its role in the immune system and defense of your body. The next 2 roles of your lymphatic system are to cleanse the tissues and maintain the fluid balance. The lymphatic system is best known for its work to clean the tissues. Many times you will hear the lymph system referred to as the “sewer system” of your body.
The fluid that leaves the capillaries and delivers oxygen and nutrients to the cells and tissues of our body also picks up waste products from the tissues. If this fluid contains large protein molecules or is too toxic to be brought back into general circulation, it is picked up by the lymphatic capillaries. The lymphatic system then delivers this “dirty” fluid to the lymph nodes. The lymph nodes are the “washing machine” of the lymphatic system. The fluid that contains waste products is cleaned of toxins and proteins by the lymph nodes.
The lymph nodes have lymphocytes that cleanup the bacteria, viruses, and debris. These nodes concentrate the fluid and send the purified fluid back into general circulation and dispose of the toxic substances. The fluid must be clear and safe before it goes back to the heart. Once the fluid is cleaned, the Lymphatic System returns the fluid into use so that the fluid levels stay balanced. Over the course of a day, 30 liters of fluids are exchanged between the capillaries and the tissues. Typically, 27 liters come back in safely without needing to be cleaned. That leaves 3 liters of “dirty” fluid that needs cleaning. Once cleaned, the 3 liters of fluid are returned into circulation by the lymph system to keep the blood pressure regulated and its job is done.