Have you ever dealt with clogged drains before? They can be a huge headache and cause all sorts of other problems like stagnant water in your sinks or toilets that won’t flush. When you get rid of the clog, your water can flow freely again. The lymphatic system functions similarly. Having proper lymphatic drainage benefits your entire well-being!
I know, I know, that seems like a strange comparison, but it’s the truth. Your lymphatic system is a circulatory system that carries toxins out of the body. But when it gets clogged it causes a multitude of problems in your body like skin issues, fatigue, and inflammation to name a few.
Taking care of the lymphatic system allows your body to fight infections and disease and rid itself of harmful toxins. Keep reading for your functional medicine guide to the lymphatic system to learn how it does this and why it’s important!
As I said, the lymphatic system is a circulatory system. It is somewhat similar to the blood circulatory system. The main difference is that in the blood circulatory system, blood is pumped through the body by the heart. Blood is pumped out from the heart via arteries and returned to the heart via veins. Meanwhile, the lymphatic system has no such pump.
It is actually part of your immune system and consists of a network of vessels, nodes, and tissues. Remember those organs that some doctors think are okay to remove? This may come as a surprise to you but organs like the spleen and tonsils are actually important parts of the lymphatic system.
In addition to these organs, the body has nearly 600 lymph nodes primarily around your throat, armpits, chest, groin, and stomach. Other important parts of the lymphatic system include bone marrow and the thymus gland.
There is no pump for this system so it relies on muscle contraction and the pumping action of deep breathing to circulate.
That’s cool, Taylor, but what does the lymphatic system do?
Here’s the technical answer, lymph vessels move lymph fluid; a clear, yellowish fluid that is the result of residual fluid leftover from the arterial delivery to the interstitial spaces.
Practically, these vessels cleanse nearly every cell in your body by removing toxins, metabolic waste, and more. Lymphatic fluid helps to deliver vital white blood cells throughout the body which help to fight disease.
The lymphatic system protects your body against infections, maintains the balance of fluid between blood and tissues, and absorbs fats in your digestive system.
It is your best defense against getting sick. Proper lymphatic drainage benefits the whole body, so when your lymphatic system gets clogged, issues begin to manifest.
Just like clogged drains, the lymphatic system can become clogged. When this happens the lymph fluid is not allowed to flow freely. A clogged lymphatic system results in adverse health reactions like a compromised immune system and a build-up of toxins.
There are a variety of reasons the lymphatic system becomes clogged. Too many toxins are a primary factor, while poor diet and overexposure to environmental toxins can also overload your system.
Here are a few other factors that lead to a clogged lymphatic system:
Lack of movement / stagnant lifestyle
Lack of sleep
Are you wondering, “How do I know if my lymphatic system is clogged?” Well, a clogged lymphatic system can range from mild symptoms to severe health consequences. Stagnant lymph fluid can be stored in your system for a period but over time it will become too toxic for the body to manage. An extreme blockage causes lymph fluid to build up and leads to swelling around the tissue in what is called lymphedema. But there are other symptoms that are red flags of a clogged lymphatic system.
These symptoms include:
Muscle cramping, tissue swelling
Worsened allergies and food sensitivities
Headaches and migraines
Joint pain and arthritis
Frequent cold and flu infections
Breast tenderness and fibrocystic breasts
Loss of appetite
Thankfully, there are certain things you can do the stimulate the lymphatic system to experience efficient lymphatic drainage benefits. Maintaining your lymphatic system is essential to long-term wellbeing and health. Here are a few ways you can improve the lymphatic system.
Movement, movement, movement! One of the best ways to get the lymph fluid moving again is through movement. This is especially true because the lymphatic system has no pump. To bust through whatever clogs you have, you’ve got to get your body moving and grooving. Walking, stretching, swimming, rebounding (small trampoline exercises) and strength training are all helpful. Find any activity or mix of activities you enjoy and want to do every day.
Dry brushing your body before a shower boosts circulation, stimulates the lymph nodes, and helps your body remove waste. Use a natural bristled brush and brush towards your heart in small strokes. The chest is where the lymph system drains so it’s best to brush your chest in a circular motion.
Deep breathing stimulates the lymphatic system. Try breathing from your stomach rather than your chest for the best results. In addition to getting rid of toxins, deep breathing is a great stress reliever.
Reducing the number of toxins in your body is one way to support the lymphatic system. Another way to support your body is to let it sweat freely. Antiperspirants block sweating and add to your toxic load. If you’re worried about being smelly, try natural deodorants instead. My favorite is Primally Pure (code TAYLORDUKES for discount).
It should go without saying, that a healthy diet is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. It also helps improve your lymphatic system. Cut down on processed foods and try to eliminate simple sugars and carbohydrates as much as possible. An anti-inflammatory diet is a good place to start with a focus on dark green vegetables, ginger, citrus fruits, flaxseed, and garlic.
Supporting the function of your lymphatic system is one way we treat the root cause of your health issues. When there is a build-up of toxins in the body treating the symptoms will only bring short-term relief. If you want to experience lymphatic drainage benefits and reduce your symptoms, start implementing these tips today.
If you need access to a stool test, a gut health expert, and personalized protocols, the Get Your Gut Right program might be the right fit for you. This is a very comprehensive program that also focuses on nutrition, detox pathways, nervous system, clean environment, and more. Click HERE to learn more.
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