Sumter Y's Missy Corrigan: Implement these steps to refresh your lymphatic system


The human body has multiple systems that depend on one another to work together effectively and efficiently for optimal health. While they all have specific roles, one system that doesn't function properly can have an impact on the others, leading to health complications. One such system is the lymphatic system, which is a network of vessels and nodes that return fluid from the tissues into circulation throughout the body, including the brain.

A healthy lymphatic system can boost immunity, balance fluid levels and enhance nutrient absorption. Regardless of the status of your system, it can have an impact on your physical and mental health. Reducing inflammation and living a healthy lifestyle can support a healthy lymphatic system. Due to the current American diet and lifestyle, a sluggish lymphatic system is much more common than it once was.

Symptoms of a sluggish lymphatic system include swelling of fatty tissues in the legs, arms, hands and feet, circulatory problems including spider veins and varicose veins, fat disorders like lipedema, loss of feeling in hands or feet, depression, connective tissue disorder, digestive issues, food allergies, bloating, chronic fatigue, unexplained weight gain, edema, skin problems or infections or any other inflammatory disorders.

The lymphatic system does not have a pump like the heart that pumps blood throughout the body. Instead, it relies on the pulses of your arteries to move lymph, the fluid that flows through the lymphatic system, around. Many people experience some of the symptoms mentioned above. Medical experts suggest implementing the following steps to refresh and support a healthy lymphatic system:

- Improve your diet by eliminating foods that promote inflammation like processed foods, dairy, gluten and sugar; consume lots of green, leafy vegetables.

- Exercise, even mild to moderate intensity, is one of the most effective ways of activating the flow of the lymphatic system.

- Manually activate the lymphatic system with dry brushing or lymphatic massage.

- Wear loose-fitting clothing. Wearing tight clothing can reduce circulation throughout the body by reducing and restricting movement of the lymphatic system.

- Since the system is made up primarily of water, it is important to drink plenty of it. Proper hydration assists with the body's natural detoxification process and takes stress off the lymphatic system.

Daily actions that support a healthy lymphatic system also support the other systems in the body that may help improve overall health and function as well as reduce illness and infection.

Missy Corrigan is executive of community health for Sumter Family YMCA. She can be reached at or (803) 773-1404.