What Is The Lymphatic System?
There are a number of systems in our body that work together forming a network that help in the management of a number of bodily functions. Lymphatic system is one of these systems. The lymphatic system is made up of a complicated network that works similar to a drainage system. It helps to maintain a balance of body fluids and also plays an important role in protecting the body against infections. Furthermore, this system removes toxic waste from our body.
The lymphatic system is made of lymph vessels, lymph ducts, lymph nodes and a number of other tissues. Similar to blood vessels the lymph vessels form several branches that extend to almost every tissues of the body. The lymph is a clear bodily fluid that is drained from body tissues on a daily basis and is then collected via the lymph vessels and is then ultimately drained out of the body.
Why Is The Lymphatic System Important?
- Maintain Fluid Balance: The lymphatic system is involved in the drainage of approximately 2 liters of lymph every day. The lymphatic system is involved in returning the extra fluid and proteins that is derived from the tissues. The lymph contains proteins that are large and cannot be transported through the blood vessels. If the lymphatic system fails, the body won’t survive even for a day because the fluid will build up in tissues, resulting in swelling, the body will lose its blood volume and pressure would increase.
- Absorption: The lymphatic system extends up to the gastrointestinal tract. The tiny vessels of the lymphatic system are called lacteals. These lacteals are a part of the villi that serve as the absorptive surface of the GIT. The lacteals help in the absorption of fats as well as the fat soluble vitamins to produce a milky white fluid called “Chyle”. Chyle is responsible for the delivery of nutrients when it enters the blood circulation.
- Immunity: The lymphatic system helps the body to defend against infections. The lymph systems form the second line of defence against any potentially harmful microorganisms. When the microorganisms penetrate the body through the 1st barrier of defence, the lymphatic system activates the immune system to fight off the unwanted organisms.
- Disposal of waste material: The lymph drains into minute vessels called lymph capillaries. When a person breathes the muscles contract and since the lymph capillaries are very thin, they allow gas, water and other nutrients to pass through and take the waste with them.
- Protect against Cancer: The lymphatic system is important in the creation of lymphocytes when it detects a cancer cell in the body. These lymphocytes destroy the mutated cell and also stop the cancer cell from spreading to other parts of the body.
What Will Happen If the Lymphatic System Slows Down?
An improper functioning lymphatic system shows up a number of symptoms. This mainly occurs due to the improper movement of lymph which may result in the accumulation of toxic waste material inside the body. Some of these signs may include:
- Swelling of the glands
- Puffy eyes or face
- Swelling, mostly prominent around the fingers and ankles
- Sinus infections
- Issues with skin
- Gain in weight especially accumulation of fat around the belly region
- Feeling of stiffness when walking
- Swelling or tenderness in breast.
- Sensitivities to food
- Increase in frequency of catching cold and flu
- Fogginess in the brain
Effects Of Aging On The Lymphatic System.
Similar to old blood vessels, the lymph vessels also deteriorate with age. They become leaky and also do not function properly as they are supposed to. A research was carried out in 2015 by a team of researchers in order to assess the effect of aging on the lymphatic system. The results of the research showed that the lymphatic system goes through a number of physiological and biochemical changes with age.
The aged lymphatic vessels lose their ability to support a proper flow of lymph. This can result in swelling when an aged person is in their resting position. This can worsen if the person is suffering from any sort of inflammation.
The lymphatic system also fails to maintain a proper fluid balance because of increase permeability in vessels. This increased permeability cause the lymph to escape the vessels and be absorbed in surrounding tissues. This increased permeability also leads to a weaker immune system and hence the body may not be able to fight off infections as effectively as it did before.
Ways To Improve The Lymphatic System!
- Exercise and Movement: Lymph vessels are activated when we move our body. Any form of body movement or exercise helps in the flow of lymph. Sitting for longer durations is not good for the lymphatic system and therefore it is often advised to move about at regular intervals.
- Massage and foam rolling: These two types of therapies are helpful in the prevention of swelling. Foam rolling can be done before or after an exercise session it does not require the help of any other person. It helps in increasing blood flow and helps in tissues repair.
A special massage therapy called the ‘lymphatic drainage massage’ is a soft massage which helps in reducing lymph congestion. It helps to flush out excess fluid from the tissues. This massage is to be done only by trained massage therapist.
- Infrared Sauna: The sauna treatment is one of the best methods to improve the natural immunity of the body and also helps in the detoxification of body. It also helps in the improvement of tissue health. Sauna therapy is relaxing and cost effective and can be done by staying in your home. All you have to do is get infrared sauna heat lamps that produce infrared light waves.
- Supplements: A number of essential oils such as lemon, oregano, myrrh are known to improve the blood flow and reduce edema in body. Certain supplements such as the Omega-3 fish oil and turmeric are also helpful in improving drainage of lymph and detoxification.
- Improving food diet: A food diet that is rich with anti-inflammatory properties is very much needed to maintain a healthy lymphatic system. These food sources possess antioxidant properties which help in reducing damage of cells caused by free radicals. Examples of such food include, green leafy vegetables e.g., spinach, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, salmon, turmeric, ginger, garlic, berries etc. So why not make a healthy snack out of one of these ingredients and catch up your healthy lifestyle.
- Deep Breathing: Breathing is an important bodily function which might sound and there are a number of people who never bother to stop and take a breath. Deep breathing helps in the removal of lymph from the chest region. This can be done by inhaling through the nose and counting till five, then exhaling through the nose our mouth and then counting till five. This is to be repeated five to ten times. In order to make this a habit, why not make a habit of doing this every time you go to the bathroom.
- Vibration Therapy: Through the use of CVT (Cycloid Vibration Therapy) you can help to activate the blood circulation and Lymphatic systems. This therapy helps to improve the lymphatic drainage, which is important in aging as leakage of this system occurs and can leak into tissues, muscles and cells. Also, by improving circulation you will improve blood flow to enable cells to repair and recover faster.
The lymphatic system is an important system of the body and the role that it plays in protecting the body against a number of diseases makes it essential to have a proper functioning lymphatic system. Since the lymphatic system deteriorates with age, it is important that we take care of it right from the beginning and it can be done by simple steps such as having a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, exercising and keeping yourself active. All of this will not only help you to live a long life but also a healthy one as well.