The Living Well Series: Engaging the Lymphatic System to Fight Inflammation
February 9, 2017
Your amazing body is completely equipped to clean and self-heal. But it doesn’t always heal itself right? So why is that? It simply can’t when the system that handles the cleaning task (the lymphatic system) slacks on its duty. The garbage doesn’t get carried out, and the body shifts into an inflammatory state.
In today’s post I am going to share the components of the lymphatic system, how they work, what might cause your lymphatic system to fall behind on the job and then share 3 things you can do to jumpstart that all important system back into action.
So what makes up the lymphatic system?
The lymphatic system is a complex network comprised of the following components:
- Lymphatic Fluid: the clear fluid around the cells that carries away waste product.
- Lymphatic Vessels: collect this fluid and send it towards the center of the body. There are 2x as many lymph vessels as there are blood vessels!
- Lymphatic Nodes & Organs: are the filtering stations and include Bone Marrow, Thymus, Spleen, Tonsils-Adenoids, Appendix, and Nodes. We are home to 400-700 lymph nodes, half which reside in our abdomen.
How does it work?
Unlike blood, which flows throughout the body in a continuous loop, lymph flows in only one direction—upward toward the neck. Lymphatic vessels connect to two subclavian veins, which are located on either sides of the neck near the collarbones, where the fluid re-enters the circulatory system.
While the circulatory system can count on the powerhouse of the heart to move blood, lymph fluid is propelled through the lymph vessels by just the rhythmic contractions of teeny muscular units called lymphangions.
The reality is that you have twice as much lymph fluid in your body as blood. The lymph continuously bathes each cell and drains away the detritus in a circulatory system powered only by your breathing and movement. If the movement of the lymph stopped entirely you would die in a matter of hours.
Because lymph fluid literally has contact with every cell in the body, the effects of lymphatic stagnation are incredibly diverse.
How does it get stuck?
When the lymph system is compromised, chronic inflammation occurs. This stagnation is the result of the cumulative effect of diet, poor eliminating, and acidic pH levels. A diet that leads to digestive imbalances causes slowed elimination that then leads to an acidic environment of backed up waste. This waste is inflammation.
Stress is a multiplier on top of everything else and forces the body to manufacture and secrete excess stress-fighting hormones to boost energy. The waste products of these hormones are highly acidic adding further to the pH imbalance of the body. Chronic stress shifts the chemistry of the body to a steady acidic state contributing further to lymph congestion.
- Begin eating a whole food plant-based diet to alkalize the body’s pH and encourage lymphatic drainage.
- Take a Gemmotherapy protocol that cleans the residue of metabolic waste in your body and supports optimal elimination.
- Move. Every day. Find a movement you can commit to—yoga, walking, swimming, pilates, cycling, rebounding—and then do it.
As adults there will be some cleanup work to do in order to get your lymphatic system back in full gear, but considering the alternative results of chronic inflammation— autoimmune disease, arthritis, diabetes and cancer just to name a few—it’s a small price to pay.
Children on the otherhand can do it differently from the start. Parents can make choices early on that support their baby and child’s natural healing capabilities.
Now that we’ve reviewed the lymphatic system and its role in cleaning your body, next week I’d like to revisit the topic of optimal daily elimination.
Learn to support your health naturally with weekly tips
delivered straight to your inbox.
You may also be interested in:
Here’s a recipe that tics just so many boxes for me. It’s delicious, goes together with ease and in advance (a big win), is gluten-free, vegan, and my favorite is that it can be customized to the handful of veggies hanging out in your fridge. I was gifted with a Texas sized leek upon my…
This simple rustic flatbread holds a special place in my heart and I am sure it will in yours as well. Socca bread has the ability to make a simple soup and salad meal complete. I like to use my cast iron skillet but feel free to use your choice of an oven-safe pan. Ingredients…
You know there is always room for one more roasted sprout recipe in your repertoire. This one takes this winter veg right into spring with the bright taste of lemon and the sweetness of caramelized shallots. Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees 1 large or 2 small Meyer lemon, if available, otherwise 2 small unwaxed…
I really haven’t thought about Moussaka in years, actually decades. The last time I had it in fact was at a pub in Oxford for heaven’s sake. I do remember it being an amazing comfort food and that was exactly what I was searching to serve at last meal for months with Foix friends. Once…
The weather has turned cold here in Foix these final days of winter with a mix of snow and rain each day. This delightful and colorful soup brightened the dreary day and was delicious! Ingredients 2 leeks, chopped fine 2 large kohlrabi peeled and cut into chunks 3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks…
I will admit I have a problem with these cauliflower snacks. I honestly can not stop myself from eating these and can easily consume an entire head of cauliflower in this fashion, on my own. I’m not saying I am proud of this fact, just sharing in case you have the same problem yourself. I…
With a nod to my Foix friend Sanna Phinney, I share with you this super simple dessert. It’s was Sanna’s delicious recipe that she prepared for our welcome meal that served as an inspiration. Ingredients 4 apples, cored and cut into chunks 4 pears, cored and cut into chunks 1 T Fresh Ginger – finely…
You’ve learned Polyvagal basics, the states of protection, the state of connection but did you realize there are blended states? In today’s final recap Maegan, Cameron and Lauren discuss the nuances of blended states which are more common than you might realize. And then just to take it up a notch we play a bit…
When last week, during the fierce winter storms in Texas, all I wanted to do was to warm my children and give them comfort there was an ocean between us. And as often my go-to, when I am distressed, I look for relief in the kitchen. In search of something warming but not grain-heavy like…
These patties. They are just the best. Plate them up with some roasted veg and a salad or pack them along as I did on your next hike. Consider precooking the lentils and rice to cut down on the last minute prep or prepare the full mixture and allow to sit overnight in the fridge.…
Your nervous system comes well equipped with two states of survival. One of those is the sympathetic state that provides you with the energy to fight or flee and the other state allows you to disconnect and is called the dorsal vagal state. Knowing the terms is one thing but learning what they feel like…