HP-EVOO & Our Lymphatic System - Blog # 53
Hello everyone! Welcome back to another Friday blog. Today I wanted to take a look at a system most of us don’t think about and know very little about. That is the lymphatic system. This is a very important system for a number of reasons. It is a huge system that communicates with every part of the body. It runs parallel to the blood vessels and empties centrally as well. It may be a subtle alert system - if we pay attention - warning us that something is amiss.
“Obesity, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, and hypertension are fundamental clinical manifestations of the metabolic syndrome… Dysregulation of the lymphatic system underlies the development of the metabolic syndrome.” So, the lymphatic system is underlying T2D (type 2 diabetes), obesity, HTN (high blood pressure) and more! WHAT???!!!! This is super important!!! So, what is the lymphatic system?
“The lymphatic system, or lymphoid system, is an organ system in vertebrates that is part of the circulatory system and the immune system. It is made up of a large network of lymph, lymphatic vessels, lymph nodes, lymphatic or lymphoid organs, and lymphoid tissues. The vessels carry a clear fluid called lymph (the Latin word lympha refers to the deity of fresh water, "Lympha") towards the heart.” This is the reason it is always important to massage toward the heart, dry brush toward the heart, and if using compression wraps, to wrap toward the heart. Hint Hint!
This system includes lymphatic vessels, primary lymphoid organs, including bone marrow and thymus, and secondary lymphoid organs, which include lymph nodes, spleen, tonsils, appendix and Peyer’s patches. It also includes the GLYMPHATIC system or lymphatic system of the brain. Let’s take a close look at what each of these structures is and its function.
- lymph node - is enclosed in a fibrous capsule made up of an outer cortex and inner medulla. It is kidney-shaped and also part of the adaptive immune system. Lymphocytes, including B and T cells live here. Lymph nodes act as filters for foreign particles, bacteria, viruses and cancer cells. They do NOT have a detoxification function, however. Roughly 450 lymph nodes are linked throughout the body by the vascular network. These nodes can become inflamed or enlarged and firm and tender when under stress. When they are under stress, such as oxidative stress, it creates a spasm. When there is a spasm, everything stops moving! This creates inflammation!!! There’s that word again. It is at the basis of nearly every disease known to mankind.
- Spleen - found in the upper left quadrant of the abdomen, this organ houses antibody-producing lymphocytes and monocytes important in preventing infections and managing damaged or injured tissue, removes old red blood cells (erythrocytes), metabolizes hemoglobin to amino acids and bilirubin, recycles iron and serves as a reservoir for blood (in case of hemorrhagic shock).
- Tonsils - “Humans are born with four types of tonsils: the pharyngeal tonsil, two tubal tonsils, two palatine tonsils and the lingual tonsils.” They function as the body’s first line of defense against ingested or inhaled foreign pathogens. They have Microfold cells (M cells) that uptake antigens produced by pathogens, then alert the B and T cells initiating an immune response. They produce both B and T cells similar to the thymus and can become engorged with blood during an infection.
- Peyer’s Patches - Roughly 100 non-encapsulated, elongated thickenings of these follicles are found in the mucosal epithelium of primarily the distal ileum (intestine) and extend into the sub-mucosal layer. They are covered by follicle-associated epithelium (FAE) and contain M cells that take up antigens from the lumen, which is exposed to the external environment and populated with potentially pathogenic microorganisms. FAE is thinner, less mucus and more porous than intestinal villi epithelium, but less permeable to ions and macromolecules due to high expression of tight junctions. B cells (this is where they mature) are found in the center with T cells in zones between follicles. CD4 and CD8 cells are more abundant here than in peripheral blood. “Pathogenic microorganisms and other antigens entering the intestinal tract encounter macrophages, dendritic cells, B-lymphocytes, and T-lymphocytes found in Peyer's patches and other sites of gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT). Peyer's patches thus act for the gastrointestinal system much as the tonsils act for the respiratory system, trapping foreign particles, surveilling them, and destroying them.” Once stimulated, lymphocytes travel to the mesenteric lymph nodes where immune response is amplified, then carried via the thoracic duct to complete their response.
- Appendix - Long thought to be a vestigial organ, it actually is like our body’s safety deposit box. It is a reservoir for our gut microbiome. That is, our beneficial microbes for survival!!! When we have a gastrointestinal virus causing diarrhea that wipes out much of our good flora, our body can replenish via the appendix! Unfortunately, increased consumption of refined carbohydrates and low dietary fiber (food for the good microbes) has been linked to acute appendicitis. Another problems is luminal obstruction. “The fecolith is the commonest cause of the obstruction. Other causes of luminal obstruction include parasites, lymphoid hyperplasia, seeds or neoplasm. The obstruction of appendicial lumen produces a closed loop obstruction. There is continued secretion, stasis and bacterial overgrowth as well as intraluminal distension and increased wall pressure.” Many of the microbes present are very sensitive to fluoroquinolones. These are antibiotics with widespread use in livestock, as well as some approved use in humans and are partially responsible for causing antibiotic-resistant microbes. “However, some people who take these medicines may develop disabling and potentially permanent side effects of the tendons, muscles, joints, nerves, and central nervous system.” FDA advises against use of these antibiotics for sinusitis, bronchitis and UTIs.
- Thymus - It’s made up of thymocytes (immature T cells). T cells mature here and are most active neonatal and in puberty. It gradually atrophies (gets smaller) over time, but T cells continue to be produced.
- Bone Marrow - Red and white blood cells, platelets, as well as B cell development and maturation happen here. Blood cells start off as stem cells and mature into blood cells. Unlike the Thymus, it does not atrophy at puberty.
- Glymphatic system - This is the lymphatics of the brain and is separate from the body’s lymphatic system. This is stimulated by sleep. The brain literally shrinks to allow increased fluid to “wash” the brain and clean out misfolded proteins, damaged cells, pathogens and more. “Its function is similar to the peripheral lymphatic system and relies on astrocytes; thus, the system is termed a “glia lymphatic” or “glymphatic” system, which represents a waste clearance and fluid pathway in and out of the brain.”
Okay, think of this as the major draining, cleaning and recycling system of the body (like the sewage system of a city). It helps us rid toxins, bacteria, viruses, old cells, mis-folded proteins, etc. It is directly involved in reverse cholesterol transport. “To remove the excess accumulated cholesterol from peripheral tissues, cholesterol is transported through lymphatics, veins, and back to the liver for excretion, a process called reverse cholesterol transport (RCT).” The lymphatic system is one of our body’s primary immune defense is “waging war” against invaders and even “self” if it doesn’t recognize what it sees. It is uni-directional and open in areas (lik a flap) to allow larger molecules to be moved. This filtered fluid washes over cells, providing them with nutrients from the blood, while picking up old proteins, bacteria, viruses and other debris to get washed out of the body. Meanwhile, lymphocytes are patrolling for antigens allowing for efficient organization of immune responses.
“Lymphocytes can maintain immunocompetence by circulating from one lymph node to another rather than to each individual tissue of the body.” This system is lined with some striated muscle and smooth muscle and has neurological input from the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. It even has its own pump, but is under very low pressure. Movement is required by the muscles to increase flow and prevent clogging. One more reason for us to get up and move our bodies!
So, what is this system responsible for?
- Immune homeostasis
- Regulates dietary lipid transport and absorption
- Peripheral cholesterol removal and reverse cholesterol transport! This moves cholesterol from the arterial wall and can exchange for triglycerides or lipoproteins that can be taken up into bile or converted to bile acids.
- Maintains fluid levels in our body tissues by removing all fluids that leak out of the blood vessels.
- The spleen and thymus are lymphatic organs that monitor the blood and detect and respond to pathogens and malignant cells.
- The lymph nodes monitor the lymph flowing into them and produce cells and antibodies which protect our body from infection and disease.
- Intestinal lacteals are lymphatic vessels comprised of both capillary and collecting lymphatic elements. Lacteals “serve as an essential conduit for the drainage of absorbed dietary lipids and fat-soluble vitamins.” Lipids are broken down into chylomicrons that form into chyle (milky substance) then transported to the bloodstream.
- Dysfunction of lymphatic vasculature is involved in pathogenesis of obesity, dyslipidemia, T2D, malignant dissemination, various eye diseases, chronic non-healing wounds, Crohn’s disease and low-grade chronic inflammation
- When malformed, damaged by surgery, radiotherapy or tissue damage due to trauma, swelling in that part of the body may occur (most commonly the legs or arms). When this swelling lasts more than about three months it is called lymphedema.
- Lymphedema de-regulates at least 6 molecular pathways. “Progressive lymphedema also causes abnormal adipose tissue deposition, a pathology that might be considered as regional obesity.”
Okay, so WOW 😯 I know this is a lot of information. We can see just how important this system is to maintain tissue fluid homeostasis, immune function and gastrointestinal lipid absorption. Now, our bodies make new lymphatic vessels (lymphangiogenesis) during tissue repair and wound healing. However, “pathological lymphangiogenesis” (abnormal growth) has been implicated in a number of chronic diseases such as lymphedema, atherosclerosis, and cancer.” Studies show that a carbohydrate-binding protein, galectin-8, a mammalian lectin characterized by a carbohydrate recognition domain (CRD), promotes pathological lymphangiogenesis (PL). This explains why a high carbohydrate diet causes and promotes all the problems associated with metabolic syndrome, T2D, obesity, etc. Further, there are more lymphatics in the gastrointestinal-intestinal tract than anywhere else in the body. Why? Because the lymphatics are a major part of our immune defense - and the most foreign materials we are exposed to are taken in by what we eat!!! Autoimmune diseases typically begin here.
So, what can we do to enhance function and promote health of the lymphatic system?
- EXERCISE - the lymphatic vessels rely on us to move. We increase oxygen levels and blood flow as well as using our muscles like a pump to mechanically enhance lymphatic movement. Walk, use resistance bands, stretch = lymphatic movement! Limit sitting. Move while sitting if you have to.
- LOW CARBOHYDRATE DIET - Omit highly processed foods, grains, liquid sugar (juice or soda)/high sugar foods. This will shut down many of the inflammatory pathways, reduce conversion of carbs to fat, alleviate stress on the pancreas (it doesn’t have to produce so much insulin) and prevents glycation of our proteins - check out blog #79!
- DEEP BREATHING - expansion of the lungs and proper movement of air stimulates lymphatic drainage, shuts down chronic cortisol production, takes us into a rest and digest mode while supplying fresh oxygen. When breathing in deeply, followed by full exhalation contracts muscles that promote flow and creates a suction effect to return flow from the legs to the thoracic duct.
- LOWER STRESS - chronic cortisol restricts lymphatic vessels. Taking time for de-stress techniques can be powerful - mindful meditation, yoga, chanting and many other techniques can promote lymphatic movement and draining. Remember, the longer a toxin sits on your tissue the more damage and inflammation is created - and can lead to cancer.
- HOT BATH - enhances blood flow, dilates blood vessels, enhances immune function by creating a temporary fever situation.
- COLD PLUNGE - improves blood flow (afterward), enhances mitochondrial function and detoxification processes.
- MASSAGE - particular a very light lymphatic drainage massage significantly enhances lymphatic flow just under the skin. This helps the detoxification process of the body by aiding the lymph system to eliminate waste material. You can also use a Gua Sha tool with oil to scrape the skin to move lymph.
- DRY BRUSH your skin - helps the detoxification process of the body by aiding the lymph system to eliminate waste material. Starting in a circular motion on your feet working upward toward the heart, abdomen, back - as far as you can reach! This adds the benefit of stretching. Now to the hands working up to the shoulders and upper back. If you have a facial brush, you can also do this to your face and neck - always toward the heart.
- SUNSHINE - Aids in detoxification through the skin, stimulates vitamin D production, lowers blood pressure by stimulating NO (nitric oxide) production. Check out blog # 89
- INTERMITTENT FASTING - This caloric restriction over several hours or even days is beneficial in a number of ways. It takes around 16 hours of fasting to begin the process of autophagy (self-devour). During autophagy, the body will eat up debris, mis-folded proteins, bacteria, viruses, old mitochondria and other damaging molecules and tissues and make new ones!! It is able to do this because the organs worked to death by our constant eating are now able to rest, repair, and rejuvenate! Guess what? When you make new mitochondria, your entire metabolism gets a huge boost. In mice, this process both extended life and quality of life by the equivalent of 10 human years!!! WHAT???? Researchers found the best results were 3:1, eating:fasting. But, guess what? You can stimulate this process literally EVERY DAY if you narrow your eating to 2 meals spaced 4 hours apart. That gives you 20 hours of rest, repair and rejuvenation. You will see benefits such as, improved digestion, skin, weight-loss, mental clarity, ease of joint pain and more.
- TURMERIC - healing, enhances blood flow, powerful anti-inflammatory and inhibitor of LTB4 (leukotriene B4) “important in initiating the inflammation process.”
- VITAMINS - make sure you are taking a good multivitamin (GrassFed beef liver/organ complex), B vitamins (nutritional yeast), vitamin D3, K2 and minerals/trace minerals!
- WATER - drink enough water! Thickened fluid doesn’t flow well. You need roughly your body weight in oz/day. Put a few granules of Himalayan sea salt under your tongue, squeeze lemon or add some electrolytes to maintain electrolyte levels.
- ACTIVATED CHARCOAL - most people over 40 have heavy metals in their bodies. We wear clothing, like cotton, heavily treated with glyphosate that penetrates our skin. It also selectively binds toxin-producing microbes as well.
- HERBS - cayenne pepper and other herbs can stimulate and enhance flow of the lymphatic system.
- NAC - N-actetyl cysteine - cysteine is used by the liver to make glutathione (master antioxidant) - this supplement is a powerful anti-inflammatory that binds to glutamine increasing glutathione and improves mitochondrial function and detoxification.
- INCREASE NAD - a critical intracellular factor (or transfer agent in producing ATP) for our energy and an antioxidant (that decreases dramatically as we age) that is important in production of glutathione and mitochondrial health. It is so important it has a design to prevent it from leaving and crossing the cell membrane. This means it can’t get in either, it has to be constructed inside the cell. Deficits as we age include inflammation, disease processes and pain. NAD helps us make energy, is involved in DNA repair, and activates sirtuins (related to anti-aging). You can’t take NAD due to inability to get it where it needs to go (inside the cell). Supplementing important precursors that can cross into the cell and increase NAD! They include: nicotinamide (form of B3), NR (nicotinamide riboside) or NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide)- these are precursors, which increase NAD levels inside the cell. With high enough levels of NAD, you BLOCK the cytokine storm - or inflammatory storm that is associated with hospitalization and death with COVID-19 for example.
- ANTIOXIDANTS - resveratrol, ergothionine and others get rid of ROS (reactive oxygen species) and protect us from damage.
- EVOO POLYPHENOLS - Take 2-4T shot of raw HP-EVOO! Multiple polyphenols (hydroxytyrosol (HT), olepurein, oleocanthal and others) are present in EVOO that profoundly affect all organ systems of the body in a disease prevention and health-promoting way.
- Decreases oxidative stress in the lymphatic system by inhibiting an oxidative pathway. According to the journal Nutrients: found that with respect to lymphedema, hydroxytyrosol can improve endothelial dysfunction, hemostatic and lipid proﬁles, decrease oxidative stress and inﬂammation through inhibition of leukotriene B4 (LTB4) activity.
- Anti-inflammatory effect on leukocytes. An abstract published in Biochem Pharmacology: found that principle polyphenols in EVOO had a direct anti-inflammatory effect on leukocytes. Oleuropein, tyrosol, hydroxytyrosol, and caffeic acid inhibited LTB4 activity with the following effectiveness: hydroxytyrosol > oleuropein > caffeic acid > tyrosol.
- Inhibits production of inflammatory molecules. HT (hydroxytyrosol) a polyphenol in EVOO, inhibited in a “dose-related manner” the production of LTB4 by calcium ionophore-stimulated leukocytes.
- Modulates pathways associated with CVD (cardiovascular disease). “Acute intake of high phenolic EVOO was able to modify the transcriptome of peripheral blood mononuclear cells through the modulation of different pathways associated with the pathophysiology of cardio-metabolic disease.”
- Stimulates autophagy! Autophagy (self devour) is our body’s recycling and clean up system that removes damaged cells, misfolded proteins, You can actually take an EVOO shot while you are fasting. This makes you satiated for hours and enhances your fast.
Okay, let’s recap. HP-EVOO in a dose-dependent way, is able to heal our intestinal lining, enhance digestion and gut microbiome, enhance transfer of fat from organs to subcutaneous, enhance liver function and detoxification pathways, heal and protect lining of lymphatic vessels and blood vessels, prevents adherence of molecules to vascular lining, enhances HDL:LDL cholesterol ratio, enhances health promoting pathways and inhibits damaging pathways in our bodies. HP-EVOO raw and taken in daily at a dose of 2-4T, in addition to eating a Mediterranean diet and moderate exercise, can PREVENT and even REVERSE damage to the lymphatic, liver, cardiovascular, immune, digestive, neurological and literally every organ system in the body.
So, until next time my friends…Drink, Drizzle, Digest HP-EVOO 2-4T raw daily, - use more for cooking and drizzling onto your food - eat the rainbow of organic or wild-sourced or organic veggies (7-9 C) and low-glycemic fruits (to get the rainbow of gut microbes!) - eat wild-caught, pasture-raised, grass-fed - get plenty of sunshine - supplement magnesium, zinc, vitamin D3 + K2 - get your trace minerals and electrolytes with good sea salt *Himalayan was formed before plastics - eat foods high in lutein - drink your body weight in oz of water - get a good pre/probiotic - consume digestible and indigestible fiber for your gut microbes - adaptogens (such as mushrooms) and methylation donors (kale, beets, spinach, cruciferous, lion’s mane…), marjoram, rosemary, oregano, parsley and other herbs to detox, enhance overall health and reverse aging and disease - exercise your body and mind - add a few minutes of mindful meditation to your day to combat stress - take a hot Epsom salt bath and follow with a cold shower/ice plunge - practice “earthing” as an anti-inflammatory - remove EMF (electromagnetic frequency) devices and blue light - use IR (infrared) from incandescent lighting, non-toxic candle or light a fire to enhance sleep and...turn off the light!! #HP-EVOO