18 Apr 2023 How Sugar Impacts Your Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system is a crucial part of the body’s immune system, responsible for draining excess fluid and helping to remove waste products from our cells and tissues. It also supports the regulation of blood pressure and the transportation of fats and proteins from the digestive tract to the bloodstream. Lymph nodes are found across the body and act much like an alarm system, monitoring for threats in the form of bacteria and infection, ready to activate an immune response.

There are a number of ways in which we can inadvertently disrupt the delicate mechanisms of our lymphatic system, which can result in a condition known as lymphedema, where fluid is retained and body parts such as the limbs can become swollen. The types of food we consume can have a big impact on our bodies, and poor diet is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to inefficient body systems.

Here we take a look at how sugar in particular impacts your lymphatic system, and how to protect yourself from the complications it can cause.

Promotes inflammation

The immune system uses inflammation as a way to signal something is wrong. Consuming a poor diet that is high in salt, sugar and fat upsets the balance of microbes within our gut, which promotes the growth of negative bacteria and triggers an immune response throughout our lymphatic system. Living with a constant state of inflammation due to a diet high in sugar can lead to feelings of lethargy, bloating and mood swings, as well as more serious health conditions such as obesity, irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.

Excess sugar in our diets can also make us more prone to illness, as it essentially feeds the bad bacteria in our gut and clogs up our lymphatic system with white blood cells, making it more difficult for it to effectively recognise external pathogens.

Increases insulin resistance

When we eat sugary foods, our body naturally releases insulin to stabilise our blood sugar levels. By routinely eating excessive amounts of sugar, blood glucose levels remain high for long periods of time which can lead to insulin resistance. This is dangerous as it can damage tissues within our bodies, and is also a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

You can reduce your sugar consumption by opting for homemade meals over processed and takeaway options, switching to sugar-free beverages and reducing the amount of sweet treats you have in your diet. Whilst it may take a while to get used to, when you eat less refined sugar you are likely to find that your taste buds sharpen and you can enjoy the natural sweetness of foods such as fruits much more than you could before.

Inhibits the liver

A diet high in simple sugars also contributes to liver disease, as fructose gets converted to fat and is stored inside the liver when blood glucose levels are high. When fat accumulates inside the liver, its efficiency is impaired and it releases more lymph than normal into our bloodstream. Excess fatty deposits in the liver can lead to liver disease, which makes it harder for our bodies to remove toxins and waste and can overload the lymphatic system.

Luckily, you can prevent and repair minor damage caused to the liver via excess sugar consumption simply by improving your diet. Eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, drinking enough water and exercising regularly will all help your liver function to regenerate and reduce the strain on both your liver and your lymphatic system.

Raises cholesterol

Eating too much sugar regularly encourages the body to create more of the bad type of cholesterol, whilst also inhibiting the production of the good cholesterol we need to keep our bodies healthy. High cholesterol is dangerous for our health, and can lead to conditions such as heart disease, liver disease, stroke and memory problems.

Your lymphatic system is an essential part of lowering your cholesterol levels, as it is the pathway in which excess bad cholesterol is drained and good cholesterol is deposited throughout your body. Eating a healthy diet and adopting a more active lifestyle will support positive changes within your body and help to lower your cholesterol levels.

Everything in moderation

Of course, everyone likes to enjoy sugary food and drinks sometimes, and there is nothing wrong with the occasional indulgence when it comes to our diets. But knowing how what we consume impacts the inner workings of our bodies fuels us with the power to reduce our risk of serious health conditions, and gives us the chance to enhance our overall well being.

By Hannah Garcia

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