Sep. 18, 2019Your lymphatic system holds the keys to the immune system kingdom. Treat yours right, and you unlock all kinds of efficiency in your body’s systems. Use it and abuse it, and you could be dealing with all kinds of random symptoms that cramp your style.
In high school, cellular biology was about as cool as making a model of mitochondria. I learned, I passed the test, and I promptly forgot what the hell a lysosome was.
As an adult though, I find myself constantly trying to unravel the tangled web of prescriptions that get thrust in front of me for seemingly random symptoms that never seem to merit a causal diagnosis.
Fatigue. Migraines. An immune system that appears to be asleep at the wheel.
What I’ve learned over the years is that a lot of times, these seemingly unrelated symptoms aren’t necessarily caused by one thing, but are symptoms of a greater system that’s being overwhelmed and neglected.
What Is the Lymphatic System?
The lymphatic system is part of everyone’s immune system. This wide range of organs and channels are connected in function, but not necessarily by physiological structures.
The lymphatic system is made up of several parts of your body, each of which has their own special jobs to do:
- The spleen is a blood filter. Your blood passes through this organ, where red blood cells are processed, and platelets and white blood cells are produced.
- The thymus is an organ in the upper chest. Its primary job is to create immune cells called t. Lymphocytes. These cells, also known as T cells, play a critical role in determining how the body responds to antigens and foreign invaders. They have a long lifespan, lasting years in the body before being replaced.
- Lymph nodes are small oblong structures scattered throughout the body designed to distribute white blood cells and fight infection. These are what swell up as a precursor to you getting sick.
- Lymph channels transport lymph cells from the nodes throughout your body. These channels are connected to your circulatory system.
- Tonsils protect us from respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. You go tonsils.
- Adenoids protect us from bacterial nasties that enter through the mouth.
The lymphatic system is kind of hardcore. It fights infection, kills bacteria, maintains fluid level balance, and protects you from cancer. This system is a huge part of how we feel every day, how often we get sick, and even how much fluid we hold onto.
And it’s pretty freaking important that we look after it, as it turns out.
What Happens to You When Your Lymphatic System Isn’t Working
Most people have happy-go-lucky lymphatic systems that hum along all day every day, kicking butt and taking names. In some cases though, serious diseases can cause this critical immune system to become overwhelmed, making them more prone to infections.
Diseases like lymphoma and Hodgkin’s disease can sometimes be the culprit for an ultra weakened lymphatic system.
Symptoms of an overwhelmed lymphatic system can include:
- Frequent infection or viruses
- Swelling of the lymph nodes
- Chronic fatigue
- Muscle aches and pains
Just because you might have some of these symptoms doesn’t mean you have a serious disease though, and if you’re concerned, you should talk about it with your doctor. A lot of times, mild versions of these symptoms can present simply when we’re not taking good care of our bodies.
How to Keep Your Lymphatic System (And You) Healthy
Your lymphatic system is kind of a big deal, so give it some love, and show it some respect. At the end of the day, taking care of it keeps you healthy during flu season, energetic, and all kinds of killin’ it.
Here are a few ways to keep your lymphatic system (and you) happy and healthy:
Add Dry Brushing to Your Daily Routine
I’m sure you’ve heard of dry brushing by now. And as you may have read, dry brushing is believed to boast a ton of benefits, including glowing, gorgeous skin and improved circulation. But did you know that it’s great for lymphatic drainage? It can stimulate the lymphatic system, allowing it to properly drain and remove toxins from the body. Read more about how to get started dry brushing here.
Get Lots of Exercise
Get your blood pumping and get your body moving. Remember, your lymphatic system is connected to your blood supply. You can stimulate it and help to reduce inflammation related symptoms by staying active.
Reduce Inflammatory Foods In Your Diet
Some people are more sensitive to inflammatory foods than others. For those who talk to their doctor about it, sometimes the AIP diet is a good fit. This autoimmune protocol diet focuses on removing inflammatory foods such as hot spices, dairy, and gluten, and makes a huge difference for some.
Get Out That Foam Roller
Foam rolling is often what we think of when we have sore muscles, but did you know that foam rolling has plenty of other benefits? Rolling stimulates the lymphatic system to help flush toxins, get rid of bloating, and even reduce cellulite. A regular rolling routine can reboot your entire system and help you keep your lymphatic system in check.
Take Note of Your Magnesium Intake
Magnesium is a really freaking important mineral that is responsible for everything from blood pressure regulation to your heart rhythm. It’s also touted as an anti-inflammatory, and can help reduce some of the symptoms associated with an overworked lymphatic system. Foods rich in Magnesium include dark chocolate, avocados, almonds, spinach, tofu, bananas, pumpkin seeds and legumes.
In addition to curbing inflammatory foods and getting enough exercise, talk to your doctor about a proper dosage of magnesium as part of your vitamin regimen.
Get Lots of Sleep
I know we sell mattresses here at Avocado, but seriously, sleep is incredibly important. When you’re sleep-deprived, all kinds of funky things can happen, from hormonal imbalances to blood pressure issues, even migraines and irregular menstrual cycles.
Get at least seven hours of sleep every night, and don’t be ashamed to nap if you have to. Sleep deficits are a very real thing, and your body doesn’t want any part of them.
Get Regular Massages
Massages are fantastic for stress relief, circulation, muscle tension — you name it. There’s a reason more and more insurance policies are starting to cover this therapy: it really does work.
Massage is a fantastic way to stimulate your lymph nodes, particularly as you feel illness setting in. Talk to your massage therapist about what you’re feeling, and she’ll give you a massage that literally boosts your immune system function.
Try Infrared Treatments
Infrared light treatments are crazy good for inflammation. This type of light penetrates deep in your skin, penetrating a few millimeters into subdermal muscle tissue to provide relief from aches and pains.
Infrared therapy is a cell rejuvenator that kickstarts your body’s cellular regeneration process, and it can be really beneficial for getting your lymphatic system firing on all cylinders again.
Kiss Being Sick Goodbye
Take care of your lymphatic system, and it will take care of you. As the season of runny noses and piles of tissues approaches, understanding how this system works and taking care of it could save you a lot of miserable sinus headaches.
Get your sleep, eat well, and treat your body to some restorative therapies — your lymph nodes will thank you for the assist.
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