The Incredible Lymphatic System
We are all aware of the lymph nodes in our neck and know that when they are swelled up there may be a problem. What you may not know is that our bodies actually have over 500 lymph nodes! They are found in clusters in our neck, armpit, groin, and behind our knees. They can be just a centimeter or much, much larger when fighting off an infection.
These nodes are part of the amazing lymphatic system that protects our bodies from potentially dangerous substances. The lymphatic system uses lymphatic capillaries to send items to our lymph nodes where they are processed before sending into the bloodstream.
Each lymph node has a series of connective tissue that acts as a filtration system and only lets the good stuff through at first. I like to think of the nodes as security checkpoints always at work in our bodies. When we breathe in, digest, or absorb items everything must go through this checkpoint to be inspected. The beneficial nutrients go through quickly and get released into our bloodstream immediately; however those items identified as harmful are engulfed in the lymph node and broken down into smaller, more harmless pieces.
Living in cities and suburbs we can't often control what toxins we are breathing in, so while you should be aware of this and stay away from harmful tobacco and chemical gases let's focus on the things we typically have more control over; ingestion and absorption.
Lymph nodes are activated by chemicals that we also absorb, making it important to check the ingredients of lotions, cosmetics, body washes, and sunscreens that you use. It also means that if you get a tattoo that ink may end up affecting a nearby lymph node as well.
The problem with our typical American diet is that we ingest so many harmful non-nutritious "foods" that our lymphatic system can eventually get to a point where it is on overload and can't continue to protect us. This is one of the reasons that eating healthy can keep us from getting ill. The more we understand about how our immune system works, the more we are able to make the connection between our well being and the food that we allow into our amazing bodies.
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