One of the many benefits of a healthy, well-functioning lymphatic system is that it improves the functioning of your immune system. This is because the lymphatic and immune systems work together to combat infection and fight disease.
Infections and disease can happen anywhere in the body, so it is vital that the immune system pathways–which is predominantly regulated by your lymphatic system–are flowing freely. When the body detects an invader, be it bacteria, viruses or dead cell waste, it’ll trigger your immune system to produce highly specialised white blood cells known as lymphocytes.
These lymphocytes are produced in your lymph nodes which are at specific sites throughout your body. The lymphocytes leave the lymph nodes and are transported to the place in the body where the invader was detected via lymphatic fluid. The invaders picked up by the lymph are engulfed and digested in the lymph nodes. This is why your ‘glands’ can become swollen when you have an infection; they are at full fighting capacity.
High-risk infection isn’t the only major worry when it comes to having a sluggish lymphatic system. Build-up of toxins and waste in the body tissues can also cause illness and fatigue. General day-to-day waste products need to make their way out the body through our detox pathways; the lymphatic system is a major component in the transportation of waste products.
This is why having a healthy, free-flowing lymphatic system is essential to our overall health and well-being. A sluggish compromised system means our immune system is functioning sub-optimally and so won’t be as successful when it comes to fighting invaders.
A healthy lymphatic system requires movement. This movement can be through breathing, exercise or a lymphatic drainage massage. Good nutrition and lots and lots of water also help to keep it flowing freely.
This is why Immunity and breathing are closely linked; breathing is movement. Quality breathing is essential for regulating the lymphatic system and promoting lymphatic drainage. Like the heart pumps blood around the body, deep breaths pump lymph fluid and boost our immunity.
I am a firm believer that a regular and consistent Breathwork practice is a form of preventive medicine, because breathing is directly related to lymph flow, and lymph flow is directly related to immunity.
Most people are not aware of their breathing patterns neither do they breathe consciously. Basic science teaches us that our lungs absorb oxygen and release carbon dioxide, but the role of the diaphragm and the lymphatic flow generated by breathing is unknown to most. Couple this with the fact that most of us live sedentary lifestyles, or at least don’t get as much exercise in as we know we should. And, also seeing as many of us today breathe through our mouths and are chronic shallow breathers (meaning we breathe with our chests and not our diaphragm), our modern lifestyles have led to many of us adopting lifestyle patterns that predispose us to have a poorly functioning lymphatic system.
Realising that our lifestyle predisposes us to poor movement patterns, we need to take back our health and start to include behaviours that will boost our lymphatic system and in turn boost our immune system.
It’s amazing the power our body has to keep us healthy and happy! We just need to learn the tools and tricks to optimise our immune system. So, Bodyballancer and I have compiled these top 10 tips for improving your lymphatic system and bulletproofing your immunity.
- Move more, Get active: If you fancy a bit of fresh air then gardening, walking (especially brisk walking while swinging your arms), jogging or cycling are all perfect forms of exercise to liven your lymphatic system up. Other simple activities such as dancing, climbing stairs, and performing household chores are also great for getting lymph fluid moving.
- Jump to it: Channel your inner child with a few minutes on a trampoline or a bit of vigorous skipping; both are a really fun way to boost your lymphatic system, as well as providing a fantastic cardio workout. I love to use a rebounder to do little jumps daily! It’s really fun!
- Stand tall: Stretching promotes muscle movement. Particularly useful are stretches that focus on the neck and shoulders. Neck rolls, head tilts, shoulder rolls, and shoulder shrugs are very simple but effective stretches for boosting lymphatic flow in this area. Why not add 3 yoga sessions a week to your movement ritual?
- Ab happy: Stomach crunches are also very effective due to the high concentration of lymphatic vessels in the abdomen. Lie flat on the floor with knees bent, feet flat to the surface, and cross your arms loosely over the chest. Raise your head and shoulders up slightly and repeat 8-12 times.
- Just breathe: Breathing helps move our lymphatic fluid and increases the elimination of toxins and waste. All you need to do is breathe deeply in through the nose and hold for four counts, then exhale through the mouth for two counts. Repeat two or three times several times a day. You can do this either sitting or lying down. As you get better at this, you can increase the time. For example, breathe in for a count of five, hold for a count of 15 and exhale for a count of 10.
- Zone Out: Stress is one of the major causes of poor lymphatic health. It leads to an increase in the production of the hormone cortisol, which is known to affect lymphatic flow. Activities such as meditation, yoga, pilates, mindfulness practice, and needful rest are key to combating stress and anxiety.
- Brush That Skin: Dry skin brushing is a great way to release toxins by stimulating the tiny lymphatic vessels that sit just below the skin. This is best done first thing in the morning before showering. Begin with the soles of the feet and brush with upward strokes as you move up the legs and towards the heart. Use the same method on your upper body, beginning with the hands up your arms. The routine should take you no more than 5-10 minutes. For best results, repeat 3-5 times a week.
- Stay hydrated: I know what you’re thinking, THEY SAY THAT FOR EVERYTHING! Yes, but when it comes to the lymphatic system it cannot be underestimated. Lymphatic fluid is 96% water, even mild to moderate dehydration can have a significant effect, causing stagnation and congestion. And remember, we are already dehydrated when we feel thirsty so try not to wait until then to reach for the water bottle.
- Cut Out Confectionery: You should reduce the detoxifying burden of your lymphatic system by avoiding sugary processed additive-laden foods (ready meals, fizzy drinks, confectionery). There is no time like the present to give cooking from scratch a try! CoVID19 has confined us mostly to home, why not use the time to improve your cookery skills and diet.
- Face your face: Jade rollers have been used for thousands of years to improve the skin’s health and radiance. Now available from most high street and online beauty retailers, jade rollers help stimulate lymphatic drainage whilst improving skin elasticity. They reduce puffy cheeks and under-eye bags. After cleansing and toning, smooth a few drops of facial oil over your skin. The oil helps the facial roller to glide across the skin more easily. And, the roller helps the oil absorb more effectively into the skin to increase its benefits. Store the roller in the fridge for a short time before use for extra cooling effects. Have you ever tried face yoga? It DOES exist. I give face yoga classes to my private coaching clients! If you haven’t tried face yoga before don’t hesitate to drop me an email to find out more!
A healthy lymphatic system requires movement through exercise or specialist lymphatic drainage massage, good nutrition, and lots and lots of water to keep it flowing freely!
For a special lymphatic massage, you can check out the award-winning Body Ballancer lymphatic massage system clinic or spa! I absolutely love using The Body Ballancer and have found it to be peerless in providing consistent, high-quality lymphatic massages. I recommend a course of 6 to get your lymphatic system into tip-top shape followed by a weekly or fortnightly maintenance programme.
Optimise your health to upgrade your performance today!