A healthy lymphatic system keeps your body in optimal condition and is a critical component of your immune system. A dysfunctional lymph system makes you weaker, more vulnerable to disease, and even increases your risk for cancer. There are many steps you can take to improve your lymphatic function. Before we delve deeper into those things you can do for great lymph function, let’s learn a bit more about the lymph system.
Exactly what is the Lymphatic System?
The lymphatic system is like a freeway with multiple stops, and lymph’s composition constantly changes depending on where it is on that freeway.
When blood circulates, most of it flows back to the heart, but not all of it. Some stays behind in the intestines and becomes intestinal fluid. Once it is reabsorbed into the lymph nodes, it is called lymph or lymph fluid.
When lymph stops by the spleen, it flushes out bacteria that have been marked as dangerous by the immune system. When lymph travels to your bone marrow, it picks up immune cells called lymphocytes and transports them to your blood to fight infections.
At the end of this process, lymph is reintroduced into the bloodstream. Some of the blood plasma will become intestinal fluid, which is then reabsorbed into lymph nodes, and the process begins again.
The Benefits of a Healthy Lymphatic System
Photo courtesy of Dayton Dandes Medical Center
There are many benefits of a strong lymphatic system. They include:
- A stronger immune system – The lymphatic system keeps you healthy by increasing your supply of T-Cells and B-Cells. These cells mark and destroy foreign bodies, which might otherwise cause infection.
- Lower risk of cancer –T-cells also prevent cancer, and they do this by kicking off the process of programmed cell death, or apoptosis. All cells have a set time in which they are programmed to die. Cells that refuse to die can multiply out of control and become cancerous. T-cells tell old cells to die to keep them under control so that new cells can take their place.
- Healthier blood – Healthy blood means healthy cells. Foreign bodies allowed to use the freeway of your circulatory system can make you very sick, very quickly. One of the functions of the lymphatic system is to catch these toxins, bacteria and viruses before they have a chance to circulate in your blood. Lymph vessels carry 75% of our cellular waste products. Old blood cells are also disposed of in the lymphatic system, increasing the oxygen density in your blood and making sure only healthy blood cells are allowed to circulate.
- Balanced bodily fluids – The lymphatic system is responsible for resupplying our circulatory system with plasma, which would otherwise seep into tissues and throw off your body’s balance of fluids. It also helps to control blood pressure.
The lymphatic system can be bogged down or clogged, such as when your lymph nodes become swollen or infected. To keep your lymphatic system healthy, we have to help it along, and there are many ways to do just that.
How to Maintain a Healthy Lymphatic System
To promote healthy lymphatic system function, consider the following suggestions for a proper diet and other healthful habits:
- Avoid cow dairy, gluten, sugar and other processed foods– These food choices clog the flow of your lymphatic system and can lead to congestion. Regulate your consumption of these foods to prevent problems.
- Load up on leafy greens, herbs, fruits, and other plant foods – A diet rich in fibers eases intestinal flow and movement. This makes it easier for intestinal fluid to move to your lymph nodes and transition into lymph fluid.
- Hydrate regularly – Drink at least six glasses of water every day, the actual amount depending on your body size. Insufficient fluid intake makes lymphatic flow sluggish, which will make you feel sluggish and weak.
- Massage and/or stimulate the skin – Many lymph nodes are found just below the surface of the skin. Many massage spas offer lymphatic massages, but even gentle skin brushing or rubbing of nodes like the ones below your jaw will go a long way.
- Reduce stress – Stress can cause stasis (stagnation) or sluggish lymph flow. There are many relaxation techniques. One of the best stress management tools, exercise, is also essential for a healthy lymphatic system.
- Perform jumping exercises – Lymph flows from destination to destination through a combination of internal and external pressure. Also, unlike the circulatory system, its flow is generally upward towards the neck, meaning it always has to fight gravity. Get the lymph pumping by doing jumping jacks or using a jump rope. If you are able to jump on a trampoline, or rebounder, that’s even better.
The Bottom Line
For a long time, attention to the lymphatic system has played second fiddle to the circulatory system, when the truth is a healthy lymphatic system is just as vital to your health. As mentioned above, you can improve your lymph function by observing a healthy diet and with regular exercise. If you are interested in learning more about the exercise component, BeatCancer.org highly recommends this free eBook from Rebounder Zone that goes into detail on how rebounding can help improve your lymphatic health.
 The Lymphatic System. http://www.lymphnotes.com/article.php/id/151/
 Gilbère, G. Support the Lymphatic System. https://ahha.org/selfhelp-articles/support-the-lymphatic-system/
 Kimball, JW. B Cells and T Cells. https://www.biology-pages.info/B/B_and_Tcells.html
 Choi, I, Lee, S, Hong, Y-K. The New Era of the Lymphatic System: No Longer Secondary to the Blood Vascular System.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3312397/