You've most probably heard about the respiratory system, cardiovascular system, renal system, etc., but what about the lymphatic system? Few people know the function of their lymphatic system, while some may have never even heard about it before. Unfortunately, the lymphatic system is often overlooked due to the poor amount of public awareness. Here's what you need to know about your lymphatic system and what you can do to protect it.
What is the lymphatic system?
The lymphatic system comprises lymph nodes, lymph (a type of clear fluid containing white blood cells which fights infections), as well as lymphoid tissue lining other body organs. This system is critical for numerous bodily functions--namely fluid balance, lipid metabolism and immune response modulation. It is thus not surprising that many conditions can affect our lymphatic system. Here are 2 of the more common causes of lymphatic system dysfunction:
- Lymphedema – accumulation of lymph, resulting in the swelling of the face, limbs or abdomen.
- Lymphadenopath – enlarged and palpable lymph nodes due to various conditions (e.g. infections, malignancy).
How can you protect your lymphatic system?
Given the importance of our lymphatic system, especially in immune response modulation, it is always a good idea to take good care of it, so as to prevent any potential disruption. Here's what you can do to maintain a healthy lymphatic system:
1. Adequate hydration
Remember to hydrate yourself consistently and avoid excessive amounts of caffeine or alcohol. Hydration is key to overall health; it is important not only for maintaining the health of your lymphatic system but that of many other bodily systems as well.
2. Active lifestyle
Keeping your body active through regular exercise is a good way to promote healthy lymph flow. This can help to keep your lymphatic system in good condition, in addition to also maintaining your level of fitness.
3. Healthy diet
Consciously fill your plate with fruits, vegetable and other nutritious foods. At the same time, avoid or minimise the consumption of processed food and sugary drinks.
4. Manage stress
High stress levels can compromise your immune system and hamper healthy lymphatic flow. To avoid this, adopt a balanced lifestyle and always incorporate stress-relieving activities into your schedule. Mind-body activities like yoga and tai chi are well-regarded in this area.
Though the lymphatic system is a less well-known system, its importance should not be downplayed. As a key system for immune response modulation and other bodily functions, it is not surprising how much push-back the body creates when our lymphatic health takes a hit. Perfect example of how something doesn't need to be seen in order for its effects to be felt!