Lymphatic system: the tissues and organs that produce, store and carry white blood cells that fight infections and other diseases. This system includes the bone marrow, spleen, thymus, lymph nodes and lymphatic vessels.
Unlike the blood vascular system, lymphatic circulation is not a closed loop. It creates a one-directional flow of lymph towards the heart. Lymph re-enters the cardiovascular system at subclavian veins situated near the neck.
There are two major functions of the lymphatic system. The first is to drain interstitial fluid and maintain the fluid balance between blood and tissue fluid. The second is to fight infection and mediate immunity.
When the lymphatic system is not functioning properly, it can put your body at risk for certain diseases that affect the lymph nodes, spleen or other parts of the lymphoid tissue. Having a fully functioning lymphatic system is critical for your overall health.
In my practice, I often ask my guests/patients what they know about the lymphatic system. It’s sad to inform you that only few people are knowledgeable about it. What is even more concerning is that not so many health care practitioners educate their patients about lymphatic system and how important is to keep it healthy.
Encourage proper function of your lymphatic system by incorporating these healthy lifestyle tips:
1. Drink plenty of water. The lymphatic system is primarily composed of water and must be hydrated to function at highest level. The best water to drink is alkaline water, followed by distilled water or lemon water.
2. Eat a healthy diet. Consuming raw foods is the easiest way to keep the lymphatic system healthy. Enzymes rich raw foods (avocado, pineapple, cucumber, coconut, chlorella, flaxseed, aloe vera, garlic, figs) break down toxic buildups and promote the clearance of harmful substances in the body.
3. Exercise daily. The lymphatic system has no pump of its own and must rely on the movement of the body’s musculoskeletal system to circulate. In other words, as you move your body, you become the pump 😉. Because lymph fluid mostly runs vertically, it is believed that vertical motion exercises are more effective in pumping lymph fluid. Get the lymph pumping by doing jumping jacks, using a jump rope or bouncing on an exercise ball.
4. Get a massage. Studies show that lymphatic drainage push up to 78% of stagnant lymph back into circulation. Lymphatic drainage is a gentle massage treatment to stimulate the circulation of lymph fluid around the body. This helps to rapidly speed up the removal of waste and toxins from a sluggish lymphatic system.
5. Dry brush your skin. This is a technique commonly utilized in Ayurveda for assisting in lymphatic flow and boosting circulation. Start a habit of dry skin brushing before taking your shower, using a natural bristle brush. Start with the soles of your feet and brush with upward strokes as you move up the legs and towards the heart. Do the same beginning with the hands up the arms. Avoid brushing the chest and face!
Tip: After dry skin brushing, super charge your shower experience by alternating hot and cold water. Make sure to always end on cold water. Lymphatic vessels contract when exposed to cold water and dilate in response to heat.
Note: Avoid this if you have epilepsy or any condition that is prone to seizures, you are pregnant or you have cardiovascular problems.
by Alina Turturica Pharmacy Assistant, General Nurse, Massage Therapist, Reflexology Therapist, Manual Osteopath.
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