Your Vascular System: Veins, Arteries, Capillaries and More

The dynamic, responsive vascular system and its gatekeeper

How your circulation affects every part of your body – and your health.

Senior couple biking in nature

Your vascular system is made up of arteries, veins and capillaries — tubes of different sizes that carry the blood around your body. It’s easy to picture this like the plumbing in your house: lots of pipes that just sit there letting fluid pass through. But that’s not how it works.

In reality, your vascular system is extremely smart and dynamic. Unlike plumbing, it’s constantly monitoring what’s passing through and making adjustments in response.

That’s because your blood contains all sorts of different things. On the positive side, your blood carries nutrients from your food and oxygen from your lungs to every cell in the body.

The Intelligent Gatekeeper

With all this going on in the blood, it’s extremely important that the right materials — nutrients and oxygen — pass from your bloodstream into your organs and tissues.

To make sure this happens, every blood vessel has an inner lining called the endothelial glycocalyx, abbreviated: EGX. The EGX is like an intelligent gatekeeper. The endothelial glycocalyx acts as a semi-permeable barrier, a gatekeeper that allows the right molecules from the blood into the rest of the body. The EGX has a slippery-smooth surface. This process keeps components of the blood where they should be: in the vessel.

At the same time, the EGX is semi-porous. It is smart enough to let nutrients and oxygen pass through. This allows your organs and tissues the receive the nourishment and oxygen they need.