Lymph is a colorless fluid containing white blood cells that bathes the tissues and drains through the lymphatic system* into the bloodstream. Impaired flow of lymph accelerates the aging process and compromises the immune system. On the other side of the coin, the intensity of the aging process itself affects the functionality and dynamics of lymph flow. Facilitating movement of lymph fluid in the body is look and feel younger longer tip #5.
The role of lymphatic vessels (thin-walled vessels structured like blood vessels that carry lymph) is to transport fluid, soluble molecules, and immune cells to the lymph nodes tasked with draining lymph. The consensus in the literature is that the function and capacity of the lymphatic system gets sluggish with age because of decreased lymphatic contractile pressure (the muscles that help circulate lymph lose mass and weaken) and pumping frequency (a decrease in lung capacity). Increased oxidative stress and reduced antioxidant activity associated with aging may also be factors. (Journal of Lymphoedema, 2017, Vol. 2, No. 2)
[The information in this article should not be viewed as medical advice as we are not medical professionals. We are shareing information and recommendations from and based on scientific publications and studies that are enumerated in the article’s endnotes. As always, when beginning any new program dedicated to health and which is new for you, first consult your physician.]
Lymphoedema occurs when fluid is retained in a localized part of the body and the tissue swells. It can be caused by a lymphatic system that has been compromised most frequently as but not limited to a complication of cancer treatment or parasitic infection. The lymphatic system is a critical element of the body's immune system and returns interstitial fluid to the bloodstream. Lymphoedema is incurable and progressive but its symptoms of swelling and discomfort or pain can be somewhat lessened by a number of treatments including lymphatic massage and wearing compression clothing.
You can keep your lymphatic system functioning properly by:
exercising and building and maintaining muscle strength and lean body mass; muscle contraction forces tiny one-way valves of the lymphatic system to open and close and push the fluid through the system;
walking (or rebounding); as a weight-bearing activity each step you take lightly pounding the ground, floor or pavement, creates pump-like gravitational pulls on the lymphatic system;
practicing yoga or stretching helps direct lymph through the deep channels of the chest;
practicing deep breathing; the act of breathing creates a lymphatic pump in itself helping to direct lymph through the chest; deeper more mindful breathing is the most important facilitator of lymphatic function while consistent shallow breathing leads to lymphatic congestion (for help with a proper breathing exercise, check out our blog on Six Breaths a Minute to Slow Aging and Its Causes here);
receiving a manual lymphatic massage from a licensed lymphatic massage therapist or receiving a facial** and full body drainage treatment performed by a PHYTO5 trained professional using the Biorhythmic Drainer;
PHYTO5's award-winning technology, the Biorhythmic Drainer, mechanically, rhythmically, and precisely reproduces the gentle movement of a manual massage focused on moving energy and fluids that are otherwise stagnant;
the well-known Japanese cosmetics company, Shiseido, found in 2015 that impaired dermal lymphatic vessels are an integral cause of sagging skin** rather than collagen loss;
staying hydrated to help prevent lymphatic stagnation; lymph get thicker and more sludgy when you’re dehydrated but will flow well when hydrated;
avoiding processed foods and bad fats; these can cause inflammation and lead to lymphatic system congestion;
eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables especially green vegetables because chlorophyll not only purifies the blood, it purifies lymph;
avoiding chemical laden skin and body care products, cleaning products and pesticides which impede the body from immediate detoxification (Ageless La Cure by PHYTO5 skincare is a pure choice);
learning how to resiliently respond to stress; the waste products of stress-fighting hormones are acidic and acidity leads to lymph congestion;
refraining from wearing tight fitting clothing including underwear and underwire bras because both restrict the flow of lymph;
avoiding unhealthy habits like smoking.
*the network of vessels through which lymph drains from the tissues into the blood
** In 2015, the well-known Japanese cosmetics company, Shiseido, found impaired dermal lymphatic vessels to be an integral cause of sagging skin. Before 2016, sagging skin was mainly attributed to collagen loss. Their press release states:
“Shiseido Co., Ltd., through joint research with Professor Nobuyuki Takakura of the Research Institute for Microbial Diseases, Osaka University, has revealed for the first time that impaired function of dermal lymphatic vessels lead to accumulation of subcutaneous fat, which ultimately causes ‘sagging’ of the skin.”
Zolla, Valerio, et al. “Aging-Related Anatomical and Biochemical Changes in Lymphatic Collectors Impair Lymph Transport, Fluid Homeostasis, and Pathogen Clearance.” Aging Cell, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Aug. 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4531072/.
Dr. Baumann, Leslie. “The Connection Between Lymph and How You Look.” Miami Herald, July 21, 2014. www.miamiherald.com/living/health-fitness/skin-deep/article1976385.html.