The Lymph System

Our bodies are incredible. Every day we are constantly being attacked by bacteria, pollution, viruses etc. Luckily we have our own defense system to deal with this. Most people call it the immune system, it’s real name is the lymph system, and it’s amazing

Lymph comes from the Latin word lympha, meaning “clear water.”

As quoted by Marcelle Pick OB/GYN/ NP “Think of a river: a healthy river runs clean and clear. A brackish river chugs along, thick with soot and silt that gets snagged, pocketing pollution in small pools along the way. Eventually, the sluggish river can become a breeding ground for bacteria and disease. The same is true for your lymph.”

This truly incredible system is a network of organs, nodes, fluid, ducts, vessels and tissues that produce and transport lymph. The nodes are strung along the lymph vessels like pearls knotted on a string. There is 3 times more lymph fluid in the body than there is blood. Lymph fluid is a clear, slightly yellow fluid that flows around the body, carrying white cells and antibodies to the tissues and organs. This system assists in the production of white blood cells. These cells search for, grab and destroy bacteria and remove them from the body.

Unlike the heart the lymph system does not have its own pump. It moves through the system in the right direction because of the large number of valves that permit fluid flow only in one direction. Most of the flow is against gravity or “uphill”. This movement is due to breathing movements and skeletal muscle contractions. Exercising and proper breathing helps the lymph fluid move around the body. Proper breathing is when the diaphragm is extended on an inward breath. Imagine your lungs are like a triangle. Most people breathe in and only inflate the top of their lungs, which means their chests inflate. Learn to breathe properly and extend the belly (diaphragm) on an inward breath. This will fill the whole lungs with oxygen, which in turn, helps our bodies to cleanse itself of bacteria.

An easy exercise to help move the lymph fluid, is by taking a good deep breath in for the count of 5 seconds, hold it for 20 seconds and then release for 10 seconds. Do this 10 times, 3 times a day and flood your body with oxygen and energy. We have to breathe all day long so why don’t we learn to do it properly and also make it work for us.

Another way to help the lymph system is with massage. Massage moves the lymph fluid around the body, again assisting in the cleansing process. There are many forms of massage including lymphatic drainage. Lymphatic drainage massage is a wonderfully therapeutic deep- tissue massage treatment. This practice uses thumb pressure and long, gentle, rhythmic strokes to increase lymphatic flow and really help to eliminate toxins from the body. As with acupressure or shiatsu, the pressure during the treatment is quite powerful and can really relax and relieve the muscles. Lymph is so important in keeping the immune system working properly that improving its flow and drainage around the body is helpful in many ways.

As a consequence of modern unhealthy and unforgiving lifestyles, we are continually putting toxins into our bodies through bad diet, pollution, excess alcohol and too much sugar. Boosting the lymphatic system helps to flush all the toxins away and keep the body healthy. Lymphatic drainage massage can also help the body fight infection and speed up healing and recovery from illness. It reduces water retention, boosts weight loss and can even be an effective treatment for cellulite! Manual lymph-drainage is used in the treatment of lymphoedema.

Rejuvenating your lymph system. Your lymph system is there to keep you body in the best condition. It does this non-stop 24 hours a day 365 days a year and for the rest of your life. To help rejuvenate your lymph system here is a list of considerations: –

• Watch what you are eating. Help your body’s toxicity levels by avoiding processed foods, sugars and too many carbohydrates. Eat organic where possible. The less waste the lymph system has to deal with the easier it is to flow.

• Drink plenty of purified water or filtered water. At least 8 glasses a day. Remember we are 70-75% water, so keep this topped up and help the fluids to run.

• Get some exercise. For the lymph system the best form of exercise is jumping on a rebounder. This helps the lymph fluid to be pumped around the body. Cycling, walking or running are all great forms of exercise to help you and your lymph system. Just don’t sit and do nothing is my recommendation. Exercise makes you feel and look great as well as help the lymph system. When exercising don’t be afraid to get sweaty. If you are sweating this helps detoxify the body.

• Proper breathing. Make sure you learn to breathe properly and practice the exercise for proper breathing. Your body will thank you for it. My tip is also try it when you are feeling tired or stressed. A good deep breath that fills the lungs works wonders for making you wake up and also for relieving stress

• Avoid tight clothing that puts pressure on the nodes. For women try and not wear a bra for at least 12 hours a day and don’t wear one in bed. If you feel you can’t then get a stretchy t-shirt.

• Watch your stress level. Stress causes acid in the body and acid is toxic which adds to the burden of your lymph system.

So take care of your lymph system and it will take great care of you.

Make the rest of your life the best of your life ®