Articles about lymphatic health are probably going to dominate the interwebs here soon, and we say it’s about time. Sometimes the importance of the lymphatic system is understated. In fact, if it weren’t for the lymphatic system, the fluids in our bodies would be toxic, literally.
Well, we’d like to contribute with our own. (Article, not fluids.)
We’ll outline some information about our lymphatic health that you should know, how it impacts our bodies, and some do’s and don’ts for supporting a healthy lymphatic system.
What Is the Lymphatic System?
The lymphatic system is a system of organs and tissues that filters things like pathogens, bacteria, and cellular waste out of the fluids in your body, then returns it to the bloodstream all shiny and clean. The fluid returned to your body, called lymph, delivers white blood cells throughout the body to fight infection.
The organs starring in the lymphatic system are the thymus, spleen, adenoids, and tonsils, but most of the action happens in the lymphatic vessels woven throughout the body. Similar to veins and capillaries, the vessels carry lymph throughout the body to and from small oval structures called lymph nodes, where the lymph is filtered.
Why Is Lymphatic Health a Big Deal?
Now that you’ve had a mini biology lesson, it’s not hard to understand the importance of your lymphatic system.
It’s our first line of defense against illness, infection, and inflammation. It supports healthy digestion, healthy organ function, healthy skin growth… we could go on and on! Suffice it to say, your whole body needs a healthy lymphatic system to work optimally.
It’s also not hard to imagine why diseases that affect it can produce some painful symptoms, permanent harm to your health, and in the worst cases, death.
While not a comprehensive list, some diseases, disorders, and conditions that affect the lymphatic system include:
- Cancers of the lymphatic system, called lymphomas, make up about half of the blood-related cancers that occur each year.
- Lymphadenopathy is another common disorder where the lymph nodes become enlarged due to blockages or lymphomas. It can be caused by inflammation and inflammatory disorders, viral or bacterial infections, and other conditions that irritate the lymph nodes.
- We have plenty of customers who come into the shop suffering from lymphedema– a condition where a blockage in the lymphatic system results in the buildup of lymph in the body in a particular area (usually in the arms and legs) that causes painful swelling. While there’s no cure for it, there are plenty of ways to treat lymphedema including, but not limited to exercise and compression therapy. (More on this to come…)
How Can We Support Lymphatic Health
When it comes to supporting and maintaining a healthy lymphatic system, circulation is of the utmost importance. Unlike our cardiovascular system, the lymphatic system has no internal “pump” (like a heart, for instance), so it relies on other means of circulation to spread the wellness around.
So how do we help our bodies do that? Glad you asked! We’ve put together a quick cheat sheet for tips and tricks with some old standbys, some stuff that may be new to you, and some stuff you should avoid.
Here Are Some Dos And Don’ts For Taking Good Care Of Your Lymphatic System:
Drink plenty of water (of course)!
Eat a healthy diet with an array of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients including:
- Healthy fats like those found in fatty fishes, olive oil, etc.
- Fruits: the more colorful the better
- Vegetables: particularly leafy greens
- Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, and brazil nuts
- Seeds: like flax and chia seeds
Drink lymph-stimulating herbal teas with ingredients like:
- Wild indigo root
- Poke root
Manage your stress in healthy ways such as:
- Spending quiet time in nature
- Enjoying a relaxing hobby
Try something from the outside in:
- Try lymphatic drainage massage. Whether you go see a pro, or DIY (here’s a great guide to performing a lymphatic drainage massage), it can work wonders.
- Utilize tools that stimulate circulation in the skin such as crystal rollers, gua sha stones, or nano current and microcurrent skin-care devices.
Eat unhealthy stuff like:
- Conventionally raised meats and dairy products
- Processed foods
- Artificial sweeteners
- Table salt
Expose yourself to environmental conditions or skin/body care products containing:
- Chemical Ingredients
Guess What We’re Gonna Recommend Next? Hint: It Starts With An “Ex”, Ends With A “cise”, And It Fixes Everything (Almost)
You knew it was coming.
Unsurprisingly, one of the best ways to promote a healthy lymphatic system is to exercise. Conventional workouts are fine. Do whatever you like as long as you’re doing something, but there are a few specific activities that are said to be particularly good for the lymphatic system:
- Swimming and water workouts
- Trampoline workouts (fun!)
A Few Words
Since the pandemic first appeared, more people are looking for ways to boost their immune systems. As we said earlier in this article, the importance of the lymphatic system can’t be understated because it is first in line to defend us, so naturally, it’s right at the top of the list of things that we should give some extra love and attention to.
It’s reassuring to know that most of the things we do to take care of our wellness, in general, are also great specifically for lymphatic health. Be sure to drink plenty of water, eat your fruits and veggies, get plenty of exercise, and above all, be good to yourself.
Remember, stress has never done anyone’s immune system any favors… tell it to leave you alone. Visit our Lymphedema & Compression Products section for lymphedema compression bandages, foot wraps, leg wraps, lymphedema sleeves, gauntlets, and gloves. Though lymphedema can’t be cured, there are products that can offer some extra comfort and relief from your symptoms.