The lymphatic system helps eliminate toxins, waste products, and cancer cells. It does this by moving fluid, called lymph, throughout the body. The lymph moves around in the body collecting toxins, cellular waste, and invaders, and bringing them to the liver and kidneys to be processed out of the body.
The lymphatic system helps every system in the body including the digestive system, nervous system, and respiratory system. It helps the immune system by carrying white blood cells throughout the body. It helps with fluid balance between the tissues and the blood by absorbing the fluid leaked by the cardiovascular system and redistributing it to other parts of the body. Also, the lymph regulates the absorption of fat and fat-soluble vitamins in the body and delivers nutrients from these to the cells.
The lymph system does not have a pump in the body to move it around like the cardiovascular system does, so it depends on muscle contractions and other movements to keep moving.
Some signs of lymph congestion or stagnation include:
- Infection (ie. more colds)
- Skin issues
Since the immune system depends on the lymphatic system to deliver white blood cells throughout the body, when the lymph is congested, the immune system weakens. Fortunately, there are a few ways we can activate the lymphatic system in our body.
1. Chiropractic Care: Any lack of movement in the thoracic/upper chest area of the spine can prevent the lymphatic system from doing the final dump of toxins that it has collected for cleansing. The rib cage helps the lymphatic system by acting as a pump, so it is critical for lymphatic circulation. Correcting any anatomical abnormalities or displacements from everyday activities, which prevent movement in the spine, helps to create pressure within this region which assists in bringing oxygen to the cells.
2. Hydrate: Drinking enough water helps the lymph move throughout the body. The lymph holds most of the water that is in the body, and if we are dehydrated, the lymph fluid becomes thicker and harder to move.
3. Diet and Lifestyle: Generally, adapting a healthy diet is one of the most significant things we can do for our health. If we eat a cleaner diet with less toxins, there is less burden on the lymphatic system to remove these things from the body. Whatever diet you choose to be right for you, here are a few things to consider:
- Choose clean proteins (grass-fed, organic, wild-caught) as much as you can.
- Buy organic whenever possible. If you feel like you cannot buy all organic, follow the Dirty Dozen list by the Environmental Working Group which shows you the most important things to choose organic.
- Eat a rainbow and a variety of foods.
- Choose Green/Low-VOC/Chemical-free furniture, paint, and materials for you house.
- Choose natural/organic/chemical-free household cleaners. Since cleaning supplies are not regulated by the FDA, they are not required to label the ingredients and are typically loaded with unhealthy chemicals.
4. Walking: Everyone knows that walking is healthy, but it really helps the lymphatic system. When you walk or exercise, you use muscle contractions and this is what helps the lymph move. Even if you don’t walk for a long time, it helps just to get out for a short while!
5. Deep Breathing: Most people tend to fall into shallow breathing throughout the day, but it’s important to remember to take some time to breathe deeply. There are many beneficial things to breathing deeply, but one of them is that it helps the lymph move throughout the body. Deep breathing improves oxygen in the body, and this is good for lymph flow. Also, the actual act of breathing is like a pump for the lymph.
6. Dry Brushing: Dry brushing helps to remove toxins on the skin and to get the lymph moving. It does this by stimulating sweat glands and supporting circulation below the skin. Dry brushing involves using a coarse brush on your skin in the direction of your heart.
These are a few good strategies to help lymph movement in your body and thus, making you healthier. Have you tried any of these things before? What did you notice?