From Cellulite to Circulation to Cancer: One System Affects It All
…and check out my 3 minute cellulite reduction method.
You might know something about the cardiovascular system and can imagine how extensive it is. In fact, your blood vessels if stretched out measure an astounding 96,000 kilometres and could make two trips around the world. But how much do you know about the circulatory system that is double that size?
Your lymphatic system has twice as much lymph as blood, and twice as many lymph vessels as blood vessels. It is the most major part of your immune system. With your help it can keep you free from infection and cancer; help prevent waste and fluid retention and thus cellulite and sluggish circulation; and maximise specific vitamin absorption for healthy skin, hair, nails, respiratory system and more.
The modern world is based on the paradigms of mechanistically-based science and technology. From school years onwards this directs you to look for single correct answers to questions; to think in terms of isolated parts rather than systems of relationship between them. So when people get infected tonsils for example, the answer may appear to be “rip out the offending organ”. Few people paused to consider why tonsils get engorged with debris, or how to assist them, or how to prevent infection reoccurring. The automatic assumption that surgery is the answer is similar to deciding to eliminate all ambulance drivers. After all, they are always present at the scene of an accident and therefore must be the cause of them.
If tonsils become sore when fighting attackers you should thank them for doing their job so well. They and other lymphatic organs (adenoids, spleen, thymus, bone marrow) and lymph nodes (throughout the body but concentrated in the neck, armpits, groin, abdomen) vigilantly monitor your cardiovascular and digestive fluids. They localise contents, identify threats (such as allergens; cancer cells; or pathogens: viral, bacterial, fungal, parasitic) and destroy them. If intruders are observed, lymph nodes amp up white blood cell (WBC) production, which may cause the nodes to swell, become noticeable and sometimes painfully inflamed. Once the WBC has the offender trapped it releases a deadly toxin to break it apart. The wastes to this process can show up as pus or other eruptions, such as in the tonsils, adenoids or on the skin.
There are 5 types of WBC produced mainly in your bone marrow and some lymphatic tissue. The first line of military action is by lymphocytes, which have 3 types: B cells (making antibodies that bind to and destroy allergens and pathogens; some B cells have a memory system to enable swift antibody production during any future attack); T cells and Natural Killer cells (destroying infected, damaged or cancerous cells). For good health you need to make about 100 billion WBC daily. About 30% are lymphocytes.
Check Your Neck for Lima Beans
The lymph system is a network of organs, lymph nodes, lymph ducts, and lymph vessels that produce and transport lymph fluid (clear or milky with fat) from tissues to the bloodstream. As blood circulates, like an incoming tide on the seashore, some can spill into surrounding tissue. Some is absorbed but about 90% goes back to the blood. The little bit left is drained into lymph. Some of this may contain leaked blood proteins which inhibit return. If reabsorption is poor then edema can develop (fluid retention characterised by swelling). If seriously impeded, blood volume and blood pressure drop and become life threatening.
Nodes range from a pinhead to lima bean size. Sometimes large numbers of microorganisms enter a node and swamp WBC capacities. This may be due to infection or allergic reaction (contact this office for an allergy test). Or cancer cells may break away from a tumour, enter lymph and grow in nodes. This secondary growth is called metastasis. Hence women with breast cancer will have nearby axillary (armpit) nodes checked and possibly removed. However, after this or other types of lymphatic surgery lymphedema may develop. The lymphatic system becomes compromised and lymph fluid accumulates. Limbs become large, swollen and numb. The blockage prevents nutrients from reaching cells, which further interferes with healing; increases risk of cellulitis (skin infection), deep vein thrombosis and – with sad irony – cancer.
Lymphoma is cancer of the lymphatic system. The most common is Hodgkin’s Lymphoma; other types are grouped as non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. What is usually first noticed with all of them are painless, swollen nodes. This can later be accompanied by itchiness and symptoms similar to the flu: fatigue, temperature swings, persistent cough and weight loss. Past infection with Epstein-Bar virus (often called glandular fever) is associated. The Leukemia and Blood Foundation recommends that if these symptoms last longer than two weeks, see your doctor. Leukemia is cancer of the blood cells. Some of these may form abnormally leading to malignancy. Healthy blood cells get crowded out and less able to do their work. Symptoms include anemia, bleeding, easy bruising, weight loss, night sweats and unexplained fevers.
Your lymphatic system is in charge of:
1) Producing lymphocytes to destroy dangerous invaders (affecting immunity, vitality and cancer);
2) Eliminating wastes to keep the bloodstream healthy (affecting cellulite, circulation and immunity);
3) Absorbing fluid so tissue does not swell (affecting fluid retention, bloating and blood pressure);
4) Absorbing fat and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K from digested food in the small intestine (affecting cellulite, bloating, vitamin and mineral levels and thus moods, skin and respiratory health, immunity and cancer).
Many organs contain lymphatic tissue such as liver, skin, heart, lungs and especially the intestine. Your 7 metres of small intestine are lined with millions of finger-like projections called villi imperative to survival. The quality of what you eat is indisputably important. But equally as significant is how well you digest and absorb nutrients from that food (Gut). All villi contain at their centre a lymphatic capillary to absorb fat and fat-soluble vitamins, while adjacent blood capillaries absorb other nutrients.
Cellulite: Why It Happens; What to Do
While the cardiovascular system has the pumping action of the heart to move blood vigorously, the lymph moves slowly among its vessels and most of the gradient is uphill. New lymph is produced and old lymph is pushed forward. Movement is affected by breathing (especially when deeply moving the abdomen), and muscular contractions. With exercise arteries pulsate and skeletal muscles press against and massage lymph vessels. During exercise – especially aerobic – lymph flow can increase 10-15 times.
Insufficient exercise and prolonged sitting or standing is associated with cellulite production. So is tight clothing that limits blood flow; smoking; diets low in fibre; or high in poor quality fats, carbs or salt. However, apart from these factors, women develop far more cellulite than men. This is linked to imbalanced Thyroid, estrogen or other Sex Hormone levels. Hormonal shifts at puberty, pregnancy, Menopause, substantial Weight loss or gain can create changes in the Skin and fat layers beneath. Too much estrogen in ratio to progesterone encourages fat deposition in hips, thighs and buttocks; and elevated Adrenal hormone aldosterone, which increases water retention and bloating (see also Kidneys).
Cellulite is little bundles of fat trapped just beneath the skin. They push upwards between walls of fibrous, firm cords called septa. If septa become rigid there is a dimpled appearance, especially when flesh is squeezed or skin thins with age. Men have a less visible network of fat cells deeper under the skin with septa running diagonally. For women septa stand vertically encouraging a tufted mattress look. Fat cells are hormone and immune sensitive and can expand even if you are slim – affecting 90% of all women. Blood and lymph find it difficult to travel along the stretched walls. Then blood inadequately distributes oxygen and nutrients; lymph inadequately eliminates wastes; and surrounding tissue swells with debris-filled fluid. The area may become cold, tender or painful; bruise, sag or wrinkle easily.
Skin is connected to muscle and the fatty layer between them by a network of fibrous tissue made of collagen and elastin. These are responsible for elasticity, tone and texture which can deteriorate with age, smoking or low levels of Zinc, Protein, or silica (also essential for joints, Bones). Collagen and elastin are damaged by Inflammation and free radicals from excess sun exposure; cigarette smoke, other pollutants; and diet-wise most strongly by poor quality Fats. Vitamins C and E; zinc, selenium and Omega 3 help combat this destruction, as do thousands of antioxidants especially high in all 5 colours of veg and fruit. Without collagen skin is thin; without elastin skin sags. Skin is mostly water so quality fluids are critical, as they are for lymphatic and Bowel elimination, and Liver and kidney detoxification of the bloodstream.
A simple, practical 3 minute method for gradually reducing cellulite is with twice daily self-massage. Each morning when in bed, massage the entire related area, such as the whole thigh or upper arm, not just where you see cellulite. This has the additional health benefit of improving overall circulation. Rhythmically, gently squeeze the entire area with one or both hands as possible – over clothes is fine. Pain or bruising means you are being too vigorous, which weakens rather than helps the area. Repeat for another 3 minutes in the evening, either when in bed or watching TV. To best observe results, check the area once weekly only, at the same time and in the same light (daylight is ideal).
In contrast there can be disfiguring side effects to medical injections, laser treatment, or surgery such as liposuction (which works best on deeper layers of fat, not cellulite). And the cellulite may return if core causes have not been addressed. Similarly, lotions do not penetrate deeply to address fat and septa issues. Using diuretics such as caffeine they can draw off a little fluid and temporarily tighten the skin surface.
If the natural, systemic strategies listed are not sufficient for determined cellulite deposits, some non-invasive techniques offer direct targeting and other health benefits. Vibration exercise machines are in many gyms and show faster, better results on fat, blood and lymph than standard exercise. Or you can purchase a small vibration plate for around $200 (eg Action Vibration Trainer). Lipomassage such as by Endermologie equipment helps break down resistant areas and improve general circulation.