Healthy Glowing Skin: The Connection Between Your Lymphatic System and Skin Health

As you can imagine, the health of the very visible tissues of our skin is 100% going to influence how our skin looks.

Naturopaths recognise that our skin is like a mirror reflecting internal processes, highlighting the interconnectedness of the skin, digestive system and liver. At the heart of this connection lies the lymphatic system, an essential component that weaves throughout these vital body elements.

Our lymphatic system is a network of vessels that extends to just about every part of body.  Along these vessels there are nodes (about 600 of them) that act as filters for the lymphatic fluid. These nodes also house and generate lymphocytes, which are important immune cells.

The main role of lymph vessels is in a partnership with our small, blood capillaries which deliver nutrients, elements to our busy cells while the lymph cleans up fluids between the cells. It also clears out debris and metabolic byproducts churned out by the cells, for healthy tissues.

The lymphatic system is important for cellular and tissue health as it plays an essential role in detoxification,  maintaining fluid balance, transporting nutrients and for essential immune system functions.

The lymphatic vessels are particularly rich around the intestinal system and liver where it aids in detoxification and nutrient transport.  In the digestive system, the lymph also plays an important role in immune surveillance as this is a site of one of the most permeable areas of the body to the outside world. This area of our lymphatic system can be prone to retention and congestion if our digestive system in inflamed or functioning poorly.

Signs that your lymphatic system isn’t functioning well or congested include:

  •           Fluid retention
  •           Frequent infections
  •           Feeling bloated or puffy
  •           Allergies
  •           Acne
  •           Dermatitis
  •           Food sensitivities.

 Improving lymphatic flow is the key to healthy, glowing skin and a healthy body. How can we do this?

:  The lymphatic circulation lacks a central pump, unlike the heart that is a pump for our blood circulation. Instead, it relies on the movement of our body and the contraction and release of muscles.  

All exercise is beneficial for lymphatic movement, even gentle exercise like walking.  However, if you really want to get your lymph flowing, the best exercise that has been shown to move lymph the best is swimming and rebounding/mini trampoline.

Movement is also allowing your body and skin to breath & move naturally.  Avoiding tight or restrictive artificial fibre clothing for long hours, and for the women, avoiding underwire bras or going bra free is beneficial.

  The automatic action of breathing is another driver of lymph circulation through the movement of the diaphragm that spans between the chest and abdomen. 

Being aware of how we are breathing is the key here. Shallow breathing, which is often how we breathe when we are busy or stressed, does not exercise the diaphragm, and therefor the lymph, in the same way as deep, slow breathing does.

Are you shallow breathing?  Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. Now take a shorter, shallower breath. Follow this with a longer, slower and deeper breath. Feel the difference?

Hydration:  We all know hydration is important and for the lymphatic system it is absolutely essential to the volume and flow. A well hydrated body is able to create and supply that wash of fluid through the body’s tissues that both delivers essential nutrients and oxygen to the cells and to carry away any waste. Your lymphatic system collects about 3L of fluid per day!

 Therapies:  If you are showing signs of oedema or significant swelling in your limbs, or if you would like to detox your lymphatic system, then the following therapeutics are ideal.

  •           Lymphatic drainage massage
  •           Sauna/Steam rooms and cold plunge
  •           HOCATT™ Infrared Ozone Sauna. For syndey-siders, check out more info here:
  •           Dry skin brushing: with a natural bristle brush, starting at limbs and working toward the centre of your body.
  •           Self-massage techniques are also highly effective.
  •           Skin Detox programs:  Ask me about the individualised Naturopathic Skin Detox program that focuses on rejuvenating digestive and liver health, and clearing the lymphatic system. Choose between 3 week or a deeper 6 week detox, or tailor one to your needs.

Nutrition:  Opting for fresh, healthy and high quality foods is the key to both a health body and healthy lymphatic system by lightening the toxin load and giving our boy the nutrients int needs to function optimally.

Include lots of fresh veges and quality protein.  Choose organic where possible to avoid added chemicals.

Some foods are considered congestive, although these can differ for everyone, commonly it can be processed sugar, refined oils and dairy. Speak to  your Naturopath if you have concerns about foods.

 Gut and liver health    As our intestinal system and liver are potentially two of the most important areas of lymphatic health. The lymphatic system is very concentrated in these areas of the body.  
Factors causing issues in these areas that result in lymph congestion and retention include:

  •           Food intolerance
  •           Poor diet
  •           Inflammatory disease or autoimmune conditions
  •           Toxicity and exposures to toxins
  •           Abdominal surgeries forming scar tissues

Signs that your liver or digestive system needs support might include:

  •           Irregular bowel patterns
  •           Bloating or excessive gas
  •           Nausea
  •           Reflux
  •           Abdominal pain
  •           Headaches
  •           Irritability

The digestive system, liver and lymphatic system are all strongly linked.

Digestive system issues,  or poor liver function are drivers of lymph retention and congestion.  With our skin, rich in lymphatics and designed as route of elimination for the body,  congestion in the lymph can directly affect skin.

Likewise,  a healthy digestive system and happy liver allows the free flow of lymph fluid that benefits all our body tissues. The tissues of the skin mirror this, as we look healthy and glowing.

Suggested links:

 Reference available on request

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