Circulatory System

Your circulatory system plays a central role in health, yet is rarely talked about. Other body systems depend on efficient circulation to deliver nutrients, immune protection and remove wastes from your cells.

Your body’s circulatory system is responsible for delivering nutrients and many other factors to every cell, while removing numerous waste materials. Like a car with a clogged fuel line or exhaust system, you will lurch down the road of life with poor circulation. Poor circulation often underlies the diseases of aging, but usually goes unnoticed. The function of every cell in your body is influenced by the quality of circulation it receives. A cell that is stressed because of poor circulation will function poorly, or not at all. We know a great deal about what creates healthy brain cells for example or heart cells, but what if the nutrients never arrive, or the wastes never removed?

Your circulatory system is comprised of two main systems blood and lymphatic. The more familiar blood system is comprised of the heart, arteries and veins. The other, less familiar system is the lymphatic. The lymphatic system drains the tissues of fluid and moves them back toward the heart, like gutters and storm drains prevent streets from flooding. While a drainage system may not seem flashy, you can imagine how important this is without proper drainage, cells drown in backed up wastes. This causes edema or lymphadenopathy and the attendant pressure, pain, tissue death and swelling. Even a small decrease in efficiency of this system causes stress to the cells. Stressed cells work poorly which translates to poor health.

The second major function of the lymphatic system is immunity. Lymph nodes, like security check points, are stationed along the lymph vessels. Nodes are found throughout the body in strategic locations to intercept and neutralize local infections. For example, nodes in your neck may become enlarged and tender when you get an ear infection.

The lymphatic system has no heart like the blood system, so relies on one way valves and muscles to move fluid through the system. Muscle contractions squeeze the lymphatic vessel and the one way valve assures fluid movement in the right direction.

With this information we see how circulation of the blood and lymph is central to good health, and a little how these systems work. Perhaps now you can guess how to help these systems do their best. Deep breathing and movement are the two major players. Breathing creates a pumping action not only for air, but for blood and lymph. Deep breathing magnifies this effort. Rhythmical deep breathing as during vigorous exercise or breathing exercises is especially effective. Movement requires muscular contraction, which also helps pump blood and lymph back to the heart. This is one of the ways that exercise, breathing, yoga and the like are so good for us. Other good ways to improve circulation are ending your shower with a short blast of cold water, and “dry brushing” your skin.