The lymphatic system is a network of nodes and vessels and valves that lie just under the skin and transport lymph — a clear fluid containing white blood cells and waste products — throughout the body. Lymph is one important method of body detoxification.
It’s a fairly complex system, but to simplify, I like to think of the lymphatic system as a garbage truck that pulls junk away from your organs and the spaces between your cells and into the lymphatic channels, or highways, so your cells aren’t bombarded by waste.
Because it is a bit of a lone-wolf system, not pumped by the heart nor moved automatically through smooth muscle action as in the digestive tract, lymph easily becomes sluggish and backed up. If this happens, it can’t relieve the digestive system of some of its toxic load, which can cause digestion to back up too, as your body becomes less and less able to remove waste from your GI tract. Sluggish lymph also builds up as fluid accumulation throughout your body, making you puffy and chubby looking, although not from fat. You may think it’s from fat, which is why I call lymphatic backup Fake Fat.
The reason lymph needs so much help is that it has to move upward, against gravity, without any dedicated internal mechanism pushing it in that direction. The lymph has to make it to the lymph nodes so the toxins in it can get filtered by the immune cells, yet nothing pushes the lymph up except movement, so it can get stuck and pool in the lower body. This is why some people have swollen feet and ankles, especially when they are too sedentary. Some people (like me) are born with fewer lymph nodes and have even more problems with excessive water and lymph accumulation when the body gets inflamed. No matter who you are, here are four ways to help move lymph to the lymph nodes and, in turn, assist your body in the detoxification process.