We never hear much about the lymphatic system…unless things go terribly wrong. The lymphatic system plays a vital role in eliminating toxins and transporting fats. But that’s not all! It is also an integral part of our immune system and we should take care of it.
What is the lymphatic system?
The lymphatic system is made up of lymphatic organs (such as the spleen, thymus, tonsils and bone marrow), a network of lymph vessels (which are a little like veins) that go through the numerous lymph nodes spread around the body.
Lymph (or lymphatic fluid) is a clear fluid that circulates in entire network of lymph nodes and vessels, transporting white blood cells, antibodies and some nutriments in our body. Its primary job is to absorb toxins found in the body’s cells, and carry them to the bloodstream through lymphatic vessels. Once in the blood, toxins are sent to the liver, kidneys, skin and lungs to be eliminated once and for all. The lymphatic vessels are located near the skin’s surface and look a lot like veins, although they are thinner and have many more valves.
Sluggish lymphatic system
One sign of a sluggish lymphatic system can show up on the hips. Indeed, poor elimination of toxins by the lymphatic system is one of the major factors leading to cellulite. Congestion in the organs in charge of eliminating toxins, like the liver and kidneys, only aggravate the problem.
What can we do to have a healthy lymphatic system and prevent cellulite?
- Exercise! Because lymphatic circulation relies heavily on muscular contractions, lack of exercise usually leads to a slowing of the lymphatic system. The best exercises for activating lymph are jumping on a trampoline and swimming, both of which reduce the effect of gravity on the lymphatic system while activating circulation by means of muscular contractions.
- Drink water. Because water retention can interfere with proper lymphatic circulation, it is important to drink copious amounts of water—at least eight glasses a day. You can also reduce water retention by limiting your salt intake.
- Eat the right food. Whereas saturated fats, refined sugar and white flour all impede proper lymphatic circulation, good fats like extra-virgin, cold-pressed oils and omega fatty acids, greatly contribute to lymphatic system health, as do garlic, horseradish and fresh-squeezed lemon juice. To further promote the elimination of toxins, it is vital to get enough fibre by eating 5 to 10 portions of fruits and vegetables every day.
- Activate your circulation. Alternating between hot and cold baths stimulates both the lymphatic and circulatory systems – a good reason for a stop at the spa for a bit of hot-cold therapy. While you are at it, a thorough lymphatic drainage can help reactivate lymph circulation and decongest the lymph nodes. Easier to do at home (but not as enjoyable), dry friction is yet another way to activate circulation on the skin’s surface, which also benefits lymphatic circulation and the elimination of toxins.
- Facilitate elimination. Cleansing herbs can help by supporting the elimination organs. An herbal combination of Boldo and Artichoke can help to unclog the liver, which in turn helps the lymph eliminate toxins more effectively. Stinging Nettle not only helps the kidneys eliminate toxins, but also has a stimulating effect on lymph, which in turn improves circulation and elimination. A whey preparation such as Molkosan feeds intestinal flora, the first line of defense against bacteria, and also reduces the occurrence of constipation, a major factor contributing to the accumulation of toxins in the body.