So What is the Lymphatic System, Why Do We need It and How Can We Keep it Healthy?
Lymphatic drainage, lymphatic massage, lymph nodes etc - we have all heard of these terms but many people do not know what the lymphatic system actually does.
The lymphatic system is a network of tissues, vessels and organs that run throughout your body and they are filled with lymph (a colourless watery) fluid which carries nutrients to cells and organs and subsequently carries toxins away from them. Lymph nodes filter the lymph and also contain white blood cells to fight infections when necessary or when toxins are overloaded (hence why lymph nodes get enlarged when you are fighting an infection). Lymph then drains into the bloodstream and then filters through the kidneys.
Unlike the bloodstream, lymph fluid relies upon your muscles to push it back toward the heart, so it’s important to remain active to facilitate this, it’s often why you don’t feel good when you have been inactive. When lymphatic drainage is sluggish, toxins can build up in the tissues and can cause cell and organ dysfunction. In iridology if you have blue or mixed colour eyes, then you are more likely to have a’ lymphatic’ constitution and more time and effort should be made to ensure a healthy lymph.
What are the lymphatic system’s functions?
-Maintains fluid levels in your body by recycling fluid from cells and tissues back into the bloodstream
-Absorbs fat from the digestive tract; fluid from the intestines contains fats and proteins which are then transported back into the bloodstream
-Protects your body against foreign invaders; your lymphatic system is part of your immune system. It produces and releases lymphocytes (white blood cells) and other immune cells that monitor and destroy foreign invaders
-Transports and removes waste products and abnormal cells from the lymph; toxins left in the cells can cause pain and health conditions
There are a number of organs in the lymphatic system:
-Spleen- the largest lymphatic organ filters and stores blood, while producing white blood cells
-Thymus- matures a specific type of white blood cell that fights off foreign invaders
-Tonsils and Adenoids- trap pathogens from the food you eat or air you breathe; the first line of defence against foreign invaders
-Bone marrow-Soft spongy tissue in the centre of some bones where white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets are made in the bone marrow
-Peyer’s Patches- small masses of lymphatic tissue in the mucous membranes in the small intestine which monitor and destroy bacteria in the intestines
Appendix- your appendix contains lymphoid tissue that can destroy bacteria before it breaches the intestine wall. It also believed that they house ‘good bacteria’ and repopulate our gut after an infection has cleared.
There are many conditions that can affect the lymphatic system; from tonsilitis, swollen lymph nodes, lymphadena (accumulation of fluid) to cancers. It is important therefore to ensure that the system works optimally.
⁃ Exercise and move; strength train to develop muscles- it’s these guys that push the lymph back to the heart and kidneys
⁃ Drink lots of filtered water; at least 2 waters per day, more if you are active. I recommend getting shower filters fitted too. Dehydration causes sluggish lymph and toxins to remain
⁃ Dry skin brush before your shower in the morning; this helps to get the lymph moving
⁃ Eat lots of organic fruit and veg; lots of nutrients equals healthier cells, less toxins, eating organic means absorbing less chemicals
⁃ Avoid chemicals in your food, on your body and in your house. Eat organic where budget allows, use natural soaps, natural deodorants and natural toothpastes. Use natural products to clean your house and your clothes; less chemicals equals less toxins in your cells and healthier lymph
⁃ Look after your gut; address any continual tummy upsets, bloating and ’pooping issues’ ie constipation, diarrhoea or if you are pooping less than twice per day with a natural health practitioner. Bowel upsets can result in more toxins in your body.
The lymphatic system is one of the five detoxification channels. These are:
If any one of these organs/ channels is not working optimally then it puts pressure on the others. Ideally, they are all working well to create toxin absorption. Sometimes we have inherent weaknesses in one of these which can mean that we have to work harder to enable our bodies to work optimally. There are always things that we can do to help your health.
Iridology (the study of the iris) is a great tool to assess the internal conditions of the body. Your iris is a reflex organ as it’s connected to your brain and every organ system in your body is connected to your brain. Lymphatic congestion in the form of lymphatic ‘tophi’ can easily be detected in irises and is often accompanied by a sub-functioning digestive system.
You can improve your health through the above methods, but there may also be other reasons and other protocols that we can use to support your systems naturally.
Ally van de Pol is a Healing Diets Coach. (HDC), PPS(Personal Trainer, Health and Wellness Coach, Iridologist (Graduating 2021) & Naturopath (Graduating 2022).