Your lymphatic system is critical for fluid regulation, immunity, and therefore overall health. In this article, we take a look at the lymphatic system and why it is so important, dietary factors in lymphatic health, and herbs that will strengthen the lymphatic system.
The Functioning and Roles of the Lymphatic System
The lymphatic system is, “a subsystem of the circulatory system in the vertebrate body that consists of a complex network of vessels, tissues, and organs,” according to britannica.com. In humans, the primary lymph organs are the thymus, a small organ residing below the breastbone, and bone marrow. There are lymphatic vessels and capillaries throughout the body, with junctions of tissue called lymph nodes that remove microorganisms and foreign substances. Smaller organs such as the tonsils and spleen also make up the lymph system.
The lymphatic system is critically important, as it carries out multiple very important bodily processes. It regulates fluids throughout the body by returning stray (extracellular) fluid that has exited the bloodstream back into the bloodstream. This allows the body to transport and use oxygen, glucose, amino acids, and other substances, and drain the excess.
The immune system is also supported by the lymphatic system. The latter produces white blood cells known as lymphocytes, which are critical for defending against infection. Lymphocytes are produced in bone marrow distributed throughout the body. Therefore, the lymphatic system is both interconnected and critically important.
Diet and The Lymphatic System
The complex mechanisms of the lymphatic system can be helped, or hindered, by the foods you eat. Avoiding foods that cause inflammation is very important for lymphatic health. Inflammation occurs when the body is trying to rid itself of toxins. Refined grain and flour-based products, as well as most types of sugars, should be avoided if you really want to ensure proper lymphatic functioning. Red meat should also be avoided.
Conversely, certain foods can bolster lymphatic health. Protein-rich foods such as chicken, fish, and legumes are beneficial to the immune system, and, therefore, to the lymphatic system. Anti-inflammatory foods such as green vegetables (spinach, kale) and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage) are excellent foods for lymph health.
Supplements that Support the Lymphatic System
Certain herbs, like certain natural foods, also have the potential to bolster the lymphatic system. Here is a look at some of the herbs most likely to benefit your lymphatic system and immune system as a whole.
Echinacea is an herb commonly recommended for its anti-inflammatory properties. Echinacea has the potential to be of great benefit to the immune system. It is specifically helpful in reducing congestion and swelling of the lymph nodes, especially when used in tandem with astragalus root.
Astragalus is an herb whose root is harvested and utilized in oral supplement form. It eases congestion and swelling, much like echinacea.
Garlic is beneficial to the lymphatic system due to its antioxidant properties. The antioxidant properties of garlic bolster the production of different kinds of lymphocytes, and it also bolsters the work of existing lymphocytes. It is particularly helpful to the production of “killer cells.” lymphocytes that attack and kill foreign agents that enter the body.
Ginger supports optimal lymph function by helping to cleanse the lymphatic system. In turn, the lymphatic system is better able to drain excess liquid and substances from the body. Ginger root is an ideal ginger supplement commonly found in oral form.
Silymarin milk thistle is an herb that is beneficial to the lymph system, particularly to the spleen. This herb can help prevent inflammation of the spleen and other spleen issues.
Fiber, such as fiber found in produce, can be beneficial in keeping the intestinal lymph system healthy.
In considering your health now and in the long term, the lymphatic system should not be put on the back-burner. A healthy diet, and any combination of the above herbs, can make a very significant difference on lymph functioning, and therefore physical well-being and disease prevention. Be sure to consult with your physician before adding any new herbs or supplements to your regimen.