The Lymphatic System: What It Does
What happens at home if your drain becomes clogged? What if no one removes the trash and garbage from the house in a timely manner? Things can get out of balance in a hurry.
The lymphatic system is made up of tissues that produce, store, and transport white blood cells and includes a complex network of vessels, ducts, lymph nodes, the spleen, the thymus, the adenoids, and the tonsils. The body is excellent at recycling most of its own components. The Lymphatic system is charged with removing waste from every cell, while helping to regulate the immune system.
Lymph must flow freely to ensure that waste products do not build up in the tissues. Breathing and other muscle movements help to propel lymph fluid and transport it through many filtration points known as lymph nodes. These lymph nodes contain collections of white blood cells (lymphocytes) that identify and help destroy harmful pathogens or toxins. As I am writing this article, the Rogue Valley is experiencing a prolonged spell of terrible air quality. Without a doubt, this condition is affecting all the citizens and certainly impacting our lymphatic systems.
Why It Matters
Just like the plumbing in your home, your lymphatic system needs to stay unclogged and flowing well for it to work properly. When the lymph flow becomes stagnant and congested, wastes and toxins begin to build up. This can lead to weak immunity and a wide variety of health issues. Congestion can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, water retention, morning stiffness, brain fog, bloating, dry skin, and cellulite. Additional problems can lead to chronic sinusitis, sore throats, earaches, swollen glands, breast swelling, and cold hands and feet.
Causes of Lymphatic Congestion
The biggest contributor is chronic stress. When the body is under stress, biochemical and hormonal changes occur. Over time, this stress chemistry contributes to inflammation that can injure cells and create waste. This clogs up the lymphatic system.
The lymphatic system is also directly controlled by the sympathetic nervous system, which is activated as part of the stress response. Studies in mice show that chronic stress can remodel the vasculature and lead to the spread of cancer.
Chronic stress is also tied to improper gut health. Gut associated lymphatic tissues (GALT) surround the gastrointestinal tract, which directly involved with the selectivity of nutrient absorption. It is very important.
How to Decongest Your Lymphatic System
There are many types of detoxification programs that can help. As with any cleansing or detoxification program, be sure to check with your physician before making changes that are appropriate for you. Additionally, try these six steps to rebalance your body.
1. Stay Hydrated
Since lymph is 95% water, adequate hydration is necessary to keep it flowing freely. Stay well-hydrated by following the Ayurvedic practice of sipping warm, purified water; sip it throughout the day to keep dehydration at bay.
Health expert Jennifer Weinberg suggests adding some freshly-squeezed lemon to your water first thing in the morning that can help to flush toxins out of your system that may have built up overnight. Avoid sugar-laden soft drinks, processed juices, sports drinks, and alcohol, which add an additional metabolic burden on the body. It is also wise to steer clear of too much caffeine, which dehydrates the body.
2. Heal Your Gut
Follow a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet that is individualized for your unique needs and sensitivities. Omega-3 fatty acids, leafy-green veggies, fat-soluble vitamins A and D, and balanced probiotics can often help heal the intestinal lining, reduce inflammation, and provide a diverse array of beneficial bacteria. This makes your digestive tract more resilient to the harmful impacts of stress and keeps the GALT healthy.
3. Eat Lymph-Cleansing Raw Red Foods
Red foods like pomegranates, cherries, cranberries, and beets help to keep the lymph moving freely. The naturally occurring enzymes, antioxidants, and bioflavonoids in these raw fruits and vegetables help to break down toxic buildup and combat free radicals, while the fiber in produce promotes regular elimination and cleansing of the intestinal villi to keep the intestinal lymphatic system healthy.
4. Dress Smart
Since the lymph does not have a mechanical pump to propel it through the body, it relies on unrestricted flow and natural muscle movement to keep flowing. One simple way to prevent restricting lymphatic flow is to avoid tight clothing.
5. Move Your Lymph Naturally
Try brushing or massaging your body gently for 10 minutes each morning, working toward the heart and paying special attention to the head, neck, feet, breasts, and abdomen where lymphatic vessels are concentrated.
6. Breathe deeply
Physical and emotional stress contribute to lymph congestion, so it is important to have an effective routine for coping with daily stress. Laughter is excellent. Meditation, yoga, tai chi, and spending time in nature can also aid greatly in this process. Additionally, Network chiropractic is a highly researched technique for reducing stress energy from the body.
Incorporate these daily habits into your routine to keep your lymph flowing well. This will support natural revitalization and cleansing of your body for vibrant skin, digestion, and health!