Your family and job responsibilities makes you so busy that at the end of the day you fall in a couch with swelling legs, stressed and fatigued.
You consider these health issues as minor problems. You don’t have time to stress about that, and you hope they won’t turn into bigger health problems.
It’s like living in a city where you are terrified to use the subway, or being mugged outside your apartment, and an overwhelming tide of junkies.
Every time you go out, you are at risk to becoming a victim of a crime. Still you let your kids go to school and you go to your job. You know it’s dangerous, but you hope police will provide you with the security. But what if it doesn’t?
You have no security, and you move to a safer city.
Your health system works exactly the same. If you don’t pay necessary attention to it, expect unwanted surprises.
The secret weapon
The minor aches and pains, low energy or susceptibility to colds and flu is due to sluggish immune system.
There is a system inside your body that filters out and destroys toxins, bacteria, viruses, germs and passes them through the regional lymph nodes, where this fluid is filtered, purified and concentrated. It defends the body from illnesses and diseases. The lymphatic system.
What is lymphatic system?
Capt. Ajit Vadakayil wrote a wonderful post about how lymphatic system works Yoga and Ayurvedic Massage for Draining.
The lymphatic system in your body is a series of connected nodes, ducts and organs that play a vital part in your immune system.
The human arteries are like a two-lane highway bringing nutrients, oxygen and fluid to the body part. The vein is a one-lane highway taking away the used blood, and the lymphatic channels are the other one-lane highway draining away the lymph fluid.
Two lanes in together, but two out lanes separate out. Blood is responsible for collecting and distributing oxygen, nutrients and hormones to the entire body where lymph is responsible for collecting and removing waste products left behind in the tissues. Plasma leaks out of the capillaries to surround and bathe the body tissues. This then drains into the lymph vessels.
So colourless lymph is essentially recycled blood plasma. The biggest lymph vessel is the thoracic duct, which empties back into the blood circulation. At the cellular level, the lymphatic system is a pathway through which fluid flows from the intercellular spaces into the blood.
The lymphatic system has vessels just like our circulatory system, but does not have a pump like the heart for the circulatory system. In order to clear the “lymph” (the clear extra cellular fluid that is collected by the lymphatic vessels and filtered by the lymph nodes), the lymphatic system must be pumped manually.
What is lymph
Lymph is a clear fluid that travels through your body’s arteries, circulates through your tissues to cleanse them and keep them firm, and then drains away through the separate lymphatic system.
So lymph is basically the fluid and protein ( plasma ) that has been squeezed out of the blood. The lymph is drained from the tissue in microscopic blind-ended vessels called lymph capillaries.
What is lymph node
Lymph nodes are the filters along the lymphatic system. Their job is to filter out and trap bacteria, viruses, cancer cells, and other unwanted substances, and to make sure they are safely eliminated from the body.
Blood nourishes the cells with nutrients, oxygen and proteins. In case there are too many proteins within interstitial spaces, fluid will start to accumulate, causing edema. The lymphatic drainage removes proteins and keeps edema down.
Since there is no pump for the lymph to drive through the system it relies on the contraction of smooth muscles tissue lining the walls of lymph vessels.
So, you have to be more physically active not because you want to look good, but because you want to be healthy.
Movement is life
There are basically two ways to drain the lymph through the lymphatic system.
1. Sport for better lymphatic drainage
If you have a sedentary lifestyle than your major concern is becoming obese. You are obsessed with fitness and exercises because you have to get in shape.
You exercise as a way to lose weight and be accepted in the society. Social and psychological benefits motivate you instead of your personal health. Did you notice that?
And here is the trick.
Following this logic, if you have a body weight that is average for your size, then you don’t need to exercise. You don’t associate exercises with immune function, cell metabolism, or disease prevention.
Exercising has evolved as a chore, something that is not enjoyable but must be done, rather than a lifestyle.
Concerning the lymphatic system, exercising is more important than you think. Your body is very dependent on muscle contraction and expansion for the circulation of nutrient-containing fluids throughout your body.
In case you can’t think of any suitable sport to practice you can sit on a washing machine. It vibrates the whole body and that’s the equivalent to helping with the lymph drainage. (Joking)
2. Lymphatic drainage massage
In case of lymph drainage massage you will be surprised by the light pressure the therapist will apply with his hands. You might wonder if that is helpful.
As the lymphatic system is located directly beneath the skin the therapist will apply extremely light circular pumping movements to stimulate the lymph flow.
Lymphedema specialist Joachim Zuther in his article The Science behind Manual Lymph Drainage in the Treatment of Lymphedema says:
Compared to traditional massage, the pressure applied with manual lymph drainage is much lower in intensity. The goal of these techniques is to manipulate the lymphatic structures located in the subcutaneous tissues. In order to achieve the desired effect, the pressure in the working phase should be sufficient enough to stretch the subcutaneous tissues against the fascia (a structure separating the skin from the muscle layer) located underneath, but not to manipulate the underlying muscle tissue. The amount of pressure needed in MLD is sometimes described as the pressure applied stroking a newborn’s head.
This stuff is hard, people
If you treat yourself with pills, opt for a quick relief instead of treating the root of the problem and think you are in a perfect healthy condition.
You are wrong.
Every pill has side-effects.
In the end you have to take responsibility for the way you live. Your health is the mirror of what you eat, what you do and what you think.
On this path we wrestle not with problems in our way, but with ourselves. Physical strength, stable sleeping schedule and healthy nutrition – are the building blocks of an unshakeable health, and if you want to understand it, you have to change your “quick relief” habits.
It’s a great achievement, one that’ll challenge you your entire life. Assuming you’re willing to try, of course.
Most people won’t.
They’ll feel virtuous and think, “Oh, I really should pay closer attention to what I eat and how much I move”. And maybe they’ll start exercising for a week or two, but they’ll give up. Because it’s hard. It’s boring.
I really hope you are different. I’m hoping that one day you’ll run and jump like a happy child who doesn’t remember last time you were sick.
The world needs more examples of that.
Will you be one?
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