The lymphatic system and cancer have a pretty interesting relationship. The lymphatic system works parallel to the circulatory system but unlike the blood, there’s no pump that moves lymph, so it flows through the body via muscle movement.
Lymph is fatty, clear fluid created by the glands, organs, and blood marrow that moves through the body, transporting nutrients and removing waste that is too big to move through veins. The lymphatic system is composed of lymph nodes, lymphoid tissues, and vessels. The stomach is the body’s storage, containing about 80 percent of our immune cells in the lymphatic tissue.
The lymphatic system and cancer
Lymph travels through the body and is filtered in the lymph nodes. Harmful bacteria, viruses, and abnormal cells (cancer cells) are killed by lymphocytes in the lymph nodes. Then, the liquid transports the waste to the kidneys and liver for detoxification and removal. Other intruders, such as toxic chemicals and pollutants, that the lymphatic system doesn’t recognize are transported through the body for removal.
This is one of the reasons why cancer tests include lymph biopsy – if cancer cells are present in lymph, it is a sign that they are present in the organs as well. What the immune system can’t kill is transported and makes its way through the lymphatic system – this is how cancer can spread.
Symptoms of a sluggish lymphatic system include:
- Brain fog
- Breast swelling or soreness during menstruation
- Cold hands and feet (poor circulation)
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Skin conditions (acne, eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, itchy & dry skin)
- Morning stiffness or soreness
- Leg discoloration
- Water retention
Keeping your lymphatic system flowing
In order to prevent toxins and cancerous cells from spreading through the body, it is very important to keep lymph flowing freely. Here’s what you can do to reset your lymphatic system.
We are not meant to be sedentary. The lymphatic system relies on the contraction and relaxation of the joints and muscles to move lymph fluid. Exercising improves oxygen supply to cells and tissues, and helps circulate toxins and cancerous cells so they end up where they need to be – the liver and kidneys for proper excretion.
Some of the best forms of exercise for the lymphatic system are yoga dancing, rebounding (bouncing on a mini trampoline), swimming and believe it or not, laughing!
2. Deep breathing
With each breath we take, we receive oxygen to feed our blood. But, the pressure and muscle stimulation of conscious deep breathing also improve lymph flow. The body contains much more lymph than blood, so it is important to push it along. Pranayama yoga breathing exercises are very effective and have been shown to have numerous benefits for the body and mind.
3. Dry skin brushing
Dry skin brushing is a popular practice in traditional Chinese medicine. It’s a technique often used in Ayurveda for supporting the lymphatic flow and improving circulation. Just take a dry brush with coarse bristle and brush the skin towards the heart. This opens pores, stimulates the sweat glands, and gets rid of dead skin cells.
Moreover, it stimulates the movement of lymph and blood in the underlying tissues and organs of the body, which helps remove toxins and cancerous cells. It also helps expel toxins through the skin
4. Drink water
One of the most important things, if you want to keep your lymphatic system clean, is to stay hydrated. This is because the lymph fluid is primarily composed of water – so the lymphatic system needs enough water to run properly. One of the greatest ways to get your lymphatic system moving is to drink at least 1 liter of warm lemon water each morning. Additional 2 liters of water through the day is enough to keep your body clean.
A lymphatic massage is a special type of massage that precisely targets the flow of lymph in the body. It involves a special amount of pressure and rhythmic circular movements to stimulate the lymph, supporting its movement towards the heart for the drainage of waste and fluid. According to studies, lymphatic massage pushes up to 78 percent of stagnant lymph back into circulation.
Iodine deficiency can cause serious lymphatic congestion. It is a trace element that protects us from the toxic environment and supports the lymph at a cellular level. You can find iodine in foods such as nori, dulse, kelp, mushrooms. Himalayan salt, and beets, or you can take it as a supplement.
7. Red foods
All red foods are great lymph movers. Foods that have been traditionally used as a natural moving and detoxifying agents include beets, pomegranates, berries, cherries, and cranberries. They contain specific phytonutrients including antioxidants that give them their bright red colors and stimulate lymph.
8. Overall diet
What we eat directly affects every cell in the body. Removing processed foods that are rich in synthetic chemicals and other toxins take an enormous strain off the lymphatic system. Foods that contain GMOs and pesticides are considered foreign invaders by the body and what lymph can’t manage will stay, leading to disease and illness.
Whole foods such as raw fruits and vegetables provide the nutrients we need without the bad stuff. According to the Ayurvedic practice, eating seasonal fruits and vegetables on its own promote lymph health.
Keeping your lymphatic system vibrant will help the development of cancer and other serious diseases. Giving lymph the care it deserves supports your immune system and delivers nutrients where they’re required.