While it wasn’t very much talked about a couple decades ago, it’s starting to become more common knowledge now. The human body actually has a second circulatory system. The one everyone knows about sends blood throughout the body. The lesser known one is the lymph system.The lymph system is different than the system that supplies blood. The arterial system, which I’m just going to call the circulatory system from here on out, uses the heart to move blood around. The lymph system, however, doesn’t have a pump to help lymph circulate.
The lymph system uses muscular contraction to move lymph fluid through the system. What this means is that movement is required to move the lymph throughout the body. Things like walking, jumping, climbing, and swinging. You know all those human things we don’t do much anymore.
But what does the lymph system do? One of the lymph system’s major tasks is waste product removal. The waste products all cells create just going about their daily tasks end up in the lymph system. These byproducts are transported to organs so that they can be eliminated from the body.
The lymph system also helps the body absorb fats and fat soluble vitamins. Lymph fluid is largely composed of lymphocytes, which are a type of white blood cell. So a healthy lymph system is also important for a strong immune system.
Because the lymph system doesn’t use a pump like the heart, long periods of inactivity can lead to a buildup of lymph fluid in these inactive areas. In fact, even tight clothing can affect the flow of lymph to it’s final destination! Unlike blood flow, there is no pressure to force lymph through tight areas. It has to be slowly massaged along by contracting and relaxing muscles.
So the next time you’re out moving around, remember you’re working like a giant human pump to help move your lymph!