Simply put, the glymphatic system is an intricate system of vessels inside our body responsible for cleaning up waste from our Central Nervous System (CNS). The glymphatic system is actively removing waste from the brain when we are asleep.
This waste is mostly plaque, like that you’d find on your teeth or in our arteries or proteins that coagulate and cause a restriction of blood flow and nutrient delivery to key parts of the brain.
While most people are already aware of the lymphatic system which clears up the metabolic water from the spaces between our cells. However, very few of them know about the glymphatic system. In this article, we will tell you everything about the glymphatic system in a detailed manner. This will help you take care of your brain health better as well as prevent neurodegenerative diseases such as alzheimers and dementia, which are caused by a glymphatic system that is not healthy.
So, let’s get started!
The term “glymphatic” was given by the Danish neuroscientist, Maiken Nedergaard. He was the first person to discover the glymphatic system. He decided on this name because of the glial cells that play a critical role in the functioning of this system.
The glymphatic system is a recently founded macroscopic waste clearance system that is present in our brains. As we said above, its main purpose is to remove metabolites, and soluble proteins form from our central Central Nervous System (CNS).
Our Central Nervous System contains the brain and spinal cord. However, it does not possess any actual lymphatic vessels. However, since our CNS remains active almost all the time, the waste generation inside it is fast and needs to be removed quickly too. This is where the glymphatic system comes into the picture.
Astroglia – a kind of glial cell – plays a vital role in the working of the glymphatic system. These cells have a receptor called aquaporin – 4 channels that allow cerebrospinal fluid to pass into the Central Nervous System (CNS).
The cerebrospinal fluid is present all around your Central Nervous System. This fluid runs alongside the arteries and moves into the gaps closer to the smaller blood vessels. Then, the receptors present on the astroglia facilitate the interchanging of interstitial fluid and cerebrospinal fluid.
This interchange results in the formation and collection of several waste products like soluble proteins and metabolites which are cleared by the glymphatic system.
Talking about the connection between the glymphatic system and the lymphatic system, it has been discovered that the glymphatic system joins the lymphatic system at a thick membrane called the dura. The dura is made up of several connective tissues that cover our body’s Central Nervous System (CNS).
Various studies have revealed that the lymphatic system is most active in animals when they are sleeping and their CNS is relaxed.
So naturally, sleep deprivation is the biggest reason that disrupts the working of the glymphatic system.
If you do not take time for proper rest, your glymphatic system will not be able to perform to the best of its capacity. This will prevent waste clearance, thereby harming your overall health. So, make sure to follow a good bedtime routine and take enough rest every night.
Another great way to support your brain’s detoxification process is regular exercise. According to 2018 research, exercise and workouts can have a positive impact on the glymphatic system.
When it comes to taking care of your glymphatic system, good mental health is equally important as good physical health. When your mind is calm and relaxed, you will be able to rest in a better way. So, make sure to take out some time to unwind every day.
So there you have it – everything you should know about the glymphatic system.
The proper functioning of the glymphatic system is essential for the overall well-being of our body. And so, you need to ensure to follow all the practices that boost the glymphatic system’s health.
While neuroscientists have found a lot about the glymphatic system, several other things are yet to be discovered. It is expected that future studies and research will be able to reveal other powerful features of the glymphatic system apart from waste clearance. For more information on brain health and the lymphatic system follow @healthywildfree on Instagram.
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