The lymphatic system

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Lymphatic system

The human lymphatic system is, in a sense, the body’s second circulatory system. It is made up of lymphatic vessels, lymph nodes, lymph (the interstitial fluid drained through the vessels), and lymphocytes (specialized immune cells). The tonsils, adenoids, spleen, and thymus are all part of the lymph system.

Our lymph nodes are soft, small internal structures located in the armpits, groin, and neck, as well as in the center of the chest and abdomen. The lymph nodes produce immune cells that fight infection while filtering lymph fluid to remove foreign material. When bacteria or other immune threats are present in lymph, lymph nodes increase production of infection-fighting white blood cells, which can cause the nodes to swell.

The lymphatic system has no “pump” of its own to move lymph through the system, as the circulatory system has the heart. Rather, bodily movement and breathing function to move liquid lymph through the vessels and filters of the lymph nodes. For people who get too little exercise and eat too much processed food, the lymphatic system can easily be overtaxed – resulting in a body that is susceptible to infection and disease.

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