Think about the amount of toxins you are exposed to every day; chemicals, pesticides, pollution, stress, heavy metals, toxic food, radiation etc. There is an essential system which deals with all of these for you: the lymphatic system.
The blood and lymphatic systems are the two major circulatory systems in our body. Although the blood system has been studied extensively, the lymphatic system has received much less scientific and medical attention. But this is changing due to the realisations that this system plays a crucial role in relation to health and well being. Understanding the lymphatic system provides insights into the body’s natural ability to nourish and cleanse itself.
What is the lymphatic system and what does it do?
The structures of the lymphatic system include the spleen, thymus, appendix, tonsils, lymph nodes, lymph vessels and lymph fluid. It’s job includes removing cellular waste and excessive fat-soluble compounds from the gastrointestinal tract. The lymphatic system is where white blood cells and antibodies are created. It is where immune cells battle pathogens, including bacteria, yeasts, viruses and other unwanted intruders. The lymph system also acts as a carrier of nutrients to various parts of the body and plays a major role in gut homeostasis.
One of the lymphatic system’s functions is removing impurities or toxins from the body and these impurities are disposed of by the body through sweating, bowel movements, urine and the breath.
Why is the lymph so important?
There is three times more lymph than blood in the body. It is a mucus, lipid-based fluid that lines your whole body. Even your blood, the other main circulatory system, dumps what it doesn’t want into the lymph.
The lymphatic system plays an important role in immune function and therefore can influence the path of disease progression. Recent evidence indicates that the lymphatic system is a major pathway for the spreading of metastatic cells, making them an important new focus of efforts to develop effective cancer therapies.
John Dilliard writes in his book Miracle of Lymph:
“The lymphatic system is analogous to the drains in your house and the blood is like the faucets. If the drains are clogged in your sink or toilet, do you only clean out the faucets? Of course not! You would clean the drains.
The biggest drain we have in the body is the lymphatic system, which as we will see, can stay clogged for many years. It forces us to adapt to an environment of toxins that stress and weaken immunity and other important pathways of detoxification.
As we age, it is the ability to detoxify well and eliminate waste efficiently that will determine longevity and optimal health.”
If the lymphatic system becomes stagnant this blocks lymph flow and the vessels are disrupted which inhibits the drainage function. This leads to a decrease in the body’s natural ability to remove toxins.
Signs your lymph is congested
- weight gain
- low energy
- cold hands and feet
- soreness and stiffness in the morning
- low immunity
- joint pains
- acne and skin breakouts
9 Ways to support a healthy lymphatic system
Most people are consuming toxic foods. Undigested proteins like gluten, casein and toxic fats can take a big toll on the lymph. Therefore eliminating all processed junk foods, dairy and gluten will help support a healthy lymphatic system.
As one of the main functions of the lymph is draining waste from the body, it makes sense that consuming foods which help, not hinder, this detoxification process is important. Fruits and vegetables!
Inflammation affects lymph nodes in a way that prevents the body from having an immune response to further bacterial or viral infection, which leads to persistent infection. A diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods like leafy greens, avocados, broccoli, sweet potato, papayas, melons, berries, broccoli, carrots etc. will reduce stress on your lymphatic system and support your immune system. Antioxidant-rich foods help secure the immune function of the lymphatic system. Although not well understood, their antioxidant nanoparticles directly reduce the stressed status of the lymphatic system.
Curcumin, a dietary component of turmeric, has been found to reduce the risk of toxins circulating through the lymphatic system. Red foods like raspberries, cherries, cranberries and strawberries have been historically used as lymph movers. Beetroot is a fantastic food to help maintain lymphatic function They also scrub the villi of the gut, which is where the digestive lymph originates. Citrus fruits improve lymphatic drainage. Their pith (the white part) is loaded with diosmin. Diosmin is found in oranges, pomegranates, grapefruit and has a strong effect on cleansing the lymphatic system.
The lymphatic system is particularly susceptible to stress. Endothelium cells that line the interior surface of blood vessels and lymphatic vessels, are vulnerable to oxidative stress due to their low antioxidant capacity. Chronic stress has even been shown to restructure lymphatic networks within and around tumours to provide pathways for tumour cell escape. Some effective ways to decrease stress in your life is exercising, meditating, and taking time for yourself to relax. It is also important to breath deeply. This not only helps you relax, but is also a way your body removes toxins.
Lymph is a circulatory system that is pumped by muscular contractions, unlike the blood which is pumped by the heart. Therefore, a sedentary lifestyle is one of the most common ways to congest the lymphatic flow. Exercising increases the oxygen supply to tissues and cells and stimulates blood circulation. Making sure you exercise in a way that makes you sweat is crucial because old waste matter is eliminated via perspiration.
Any exercise you enjoy is great; yoga, pilates, jogging, dancing etc. Rebounding in particular is one of the best exercises to increase lymphatic circulation. Albert Carter, recognised as the world’s leading expert in rebounding, states:
“Cell exercise is an exercise that we use to exercise the entire body all at once. You can get all the aerobic exercise you need on a rebounder, and get all the lymphatic circulation you need on a rebounder, without the shock and trauma of hitting a hard surface.”
Most of the body’s lymph is located around the gut (Gut Associated Lymphatic Tissue). Digestive imbalances can irritate the intestinal villi and disrupt lymph flow, therefore the health of your digestive system is essential for proper lymph function.
The food you eat has a direct impact on the micro biome in your gut. Eating a diet rich in fibre from plant foods help feed the good bacteria in your stomach and maintain a healthy digestive tract. A plant based diet appears to reduce inflammation and provide a greater abundance of protective micro biome species. Foods like leafy green vegetables and raw fruit work to sweep the colon and remove unwanted waste matter. After years of unhealthy lifestyle habits the colon accumulates a ton of excess waste and plaque that sticks to the walls. This creates an unhealthy environment for bacteria and pathogens to breed and reduces the function of the digestive tract. It can be very helpful to assist your body in releasing that via juice cleansing in combination with herbal colon cleanses, enemas and colonics.
Massage & chiropractic
Massage helps to stimulate lymphatic flow through the body and promote lymphatic drainage. You can give yourself a massage with coconut or almond oil and essential oils, or get a professional massage every month, or whenever you can.
Incorporating regular chiropractic and/or osteopathic care into your life may reduce or remove any structural disruptions in the body. This helps relieve pressure on the lymphatic vessels and allows the lymph to flow more freely. These adjustments help regulate the autonomic nervous system which pretty much controls everything. The nervous system communicates with the immune tissue to modulate chemical reactions that keep you in good physical shape.
One of the most common causes of lymph congestion is dehydration. Did you know the lymphatic system is about 96% water? If this sewer system gets backed up, drinking water will loosen up the fluids and allow the lymph to move more freely. Being properly hydrated not only maximises lymph flow, but it helps all of the organs in your body function optimally and flush toxins. Make sure you’re drinking clean spring or distilled water every day and eating plenty of fresh, raw, juicy fruits and vegetables.
Dry skin brushing
Dry brushing helps increase circulation. It also helps reduce the appearance of cellulite. Watch this video to learn how to do it.
Buy body brush in Australia here.
Buy body brush in other countries here.
Iodine assists in reducing the effects of a toxic environment and supports the lymphatic system in functioning optimally. Therefore having an iodine deficiency can contribute to stagnant lymph flow. I recommend taking a high quality nascent iodine like this one.
When you sleep, your body’s detoxification processes ramp up. Studies show that lymph channels in the brain called the “glymphatic system” drain dangerous neurotoxins from the brain into the cerebral spinal fluid. Sleep is extremely restorative and enhances removal of potentially neurotoxic waste that accumulates in the awake central nervous system. It takes about 6-8 hours of sleep to complete this process.
Your lymphatic system literally affects every single part of your being. It is your body’s drainage system and it’s important to keep it unplugged so that toxins can get removed effectively. This will help you maintain a clean and healthy body.