The Lymph – Your Self-Regulating Plumbing 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 been largely neglected until recently. In a recent article, Inho Choi, Sunju Lee, and Young-Kwon Hong of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, propose that it is time for a a brand-new look at the lymphatic system as the other, not the secondary, vascular system, as it is “no less essential than the blood circulatory system for human health and well-being.”
Aside from the circulatory system, the lymphatic system with its vessel network is the most important transport system in the human body. It is composed of your tonsils, thymus, bone marrow, spleen, lymphatic fluid, vessels, and lymph nodes. Approximately two liters of lymph fluid circulate the lymphatic vessels that cover our body literally from head to toe. These two liters are formed continually from the fluid that surrounds each one of our body cells.
Lymph fluid transports nutrients and oxygen for the cells as well as immune cells while picking up many of the body’s waste products and carbon dioxide. It plays a major role in detoxification of the body. If the production of lymphocytes is insufficient, the filtering, the degradation, and the transport of the waste products will be impeded and the bodily environment will be more and more overwhelmed with toxic metabolites and toxins.
Dr. John Douillard explains it clearly:
“The lymphatic system is like the drains in your house and the blood is like the taps. If the drains are clogged in your sink or toilet, do you only clean out the taps? Of course not! You would clean the drains. The biggest drain we have in the body is the lymphatic system, which can stay clogged for many years. This forces us to adapt to an environment of toxins that stress and weaken immunity and other important pathways of detoxification.”
If your lymphatic system is congested, your immune system may also be compromised. You should consult with your health practitioner to check your lymphatic system if you are experiencing any of the following:
- Swollen fingers or feet
- Constant fatigue
- Soreness or stiffness in the morning
- Dry or itchy skin
- Cold hands and feet
- Uncomfortably swollen or sore breasts with each cycle
Keep Your Lymph Pumping – 6 Practical Tips for Supporting Your Lymphatic System
To promote healthy lymphatic system function, consider the following suggestions:
- Improve your hydration. Drink one-half of your body weight (pounds) in ounces of water daily. Minimize intake of other beverages.
- Eliminate toxic foods from your diet. This includes processed foods, fast foods, sugary foods and sweets, sodas, pastries, and breakfast cereals.
- Switch to organic, non-GMO foods. At the very least, follow the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen Lists published annually by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
- Massage and/or stimulate the skin. Many lymph nodes are found just below the surface of the skin. Lymphatic massages and even gentle skin brushing or rubbing of nodes like the ones below your jaw will go a long way. Try adding a few drops of cypress essential oil to your massage lotion to help stimulate your lymph even more.
- De-stress. Stress may slow down lymph flow. Incorporate breathing awareness exercises and mindfulness techniques into your daily routine.
- Rebound. You have about three times more lymphatic fluid than blood, but here’s the catch, there’s no pump! Muscle contractions in your body encourage the lymphatic fluid to circulate through a series of one-way valves in your body. So the more you move your body, the more you move your lymphatic fluid. Get the lymph pumping by doing jumping jacks or using a jump rope. Better yet, rebound on a trampoline. Rebounding strengthens your entire musculoskeletal system: your bones, muscles, connective tissue, and even organs. And, it promotes lymphatic circulation by stimulating the millions of one-way valves in your lymphatic system.
5 Foods to Keep Your Lymphatic Happy
- Citrus: among the most detoxifying foods you can eat. They possess powerful enzymes, along with Vitamin C, that support the body and keep digestion flowing.
- Berries: especially cranberries, are rich in detoxifying benefits that cleanse the system and also add hydration for healthy lymph flow.
- Greens: remove harmful chemicals and toxins we encounter daily from our body. They also provide nutritional support with Vitamins A, C, and K, along with iron, magnesium, B vitamins, and protein.
- Raw, unsalted nuts and seeds: the essential fatty acids in walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, macadamias, Brazil nuts, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds power up your lymphatic system. Olive oil, avocado, and coconut and coconut oil are also good sources of fatty acids.
- Garlic: boosts immune function and attacks harmful microbes. It improves circulation and helps get rid of toxins.