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How to Keep Your Lymphatic System Healthy

Did you know that one of the reasons why laughing from the belly is good for your health is that doing so promotes a healthy lymphatic system? We're talking about true belly laughter, the kind that can make your stomach muscles cramp up and even cause you to shed tears of jolly good fun.

Not sure how this can be? Then let's take a look at your lymphatic system to understand the important connection between genuine belly laughter and your health.

What is your lymphatic system?

Your lymphatic system is made up of a series of vessels that run throughout your entire body just like your blood vessels do. Here and there, your lymphatic vessels run through lymph nodes that can be as small as a green pea or as large as an almond. Clusters of lymph nodes are located in your armpit region, neck, chest, abdomen, and groin.

What does your lymphatic system do?

It continuously collects waste fluid that surrounds your cells, cleans this fluid, and returns it to your blood circulation. Your lymphatic vessels carry this fluid (called lymph) through your body, while your lymph nodes use specialized white blood cells called lymphocytes to clean this fluid, thereby removing waste products, dead cells, atypical cells, and even unwanted microorganisms.

Clearly, strong and regular flow of lymph fluid through your lymphatic system is necessary to maintain clean body fluids, which in turn are necessary for you to be at your best.

This is where laughter comes into the picture. Genuine belly laughter causes your diaphragm to flutter up and down at a very quick rate, which generates pressure against the central lymphatic vessel that runs up the middle of your body. In effect, whenever you laugh from your belly, your diaphragm becomes a powerful pump for your lymphatic circulation, much like your heart serves as the central pump that propels blood through your blood vessels.

Here are some other ways that you can keep the flow of lymph through your lymphatic system healthy and strong for times when you aren't cracking up:

1. Get into the habit of doing activities that require deep, diaphragmatic breathing. I generally suggest spending 1-2 minutes out of every hour of the day to breathe slowly and deeply from the belly region.

2. Be physically active. The bulk of your lymphatic vessels are enmeshed within your big muscle groups. The more you move, the more your muscles will generate pressure against your lymphatic vessels, which in turn will promote strong and regular flow of fluid through these vessels. All of your lymphatic vessels contain numerous one-way valves that cause all applied forces to channel fluid flow in the desired direction.

3. Eat foods that promote flexible blood vessel walls. Many of your lymphatic vessels run side-by-side with your arterial blood vessels. Healthy arterial blood vessels produce strong pulsations that can generate force against adjacent lymphatic vessels. Amazing how a healthy body makes the most of its parts, isn't it?

4. Spend some time every day lying on a comfortable surface with your legs comfortably elevated against a wall or on a bed or sofa. The idea is to allow gravity to encourage healthy flow of fluid through your circulatory and lymphatic systems back to your heart region. I generally suggest doing this for 15-20 minutes at a time, twice daily.

Originally posted in October of 2005.


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