Viruses, colds and flu…oh my! Why a healthy immune system is important

We are taking a break from our ‘Benefits of Chair Massage’ series to address a topic that’s currently front and center. In light of recent global occurrences, I thought a little blog about the immune system-what it is, how it functions, and what conditions can affect immune health, are more in line what what’s on everyone’s mind at the moment. Well, this and how much toilet paper the average person can actually use in one month!

A healthy immune system is critical to warding off infections and other beastly invaders. It’s your body’s defense system. A healthy immune system prevents you from getting sick. And we all know there are a lot of nasty germs, bacteria and viruses out there just waiting to attack. Think-a virus that sounds like a beer. Not fair to the beer that’s for sure.

So, what is the immune system? It’s comprised of tissues, organs and special cells that work together to protect and keep you healthy. A major component of the immune system is the lymphatic system. It’s a major part of why and how your body cleans itself. Think of it as your natural plumbing system, carrying interstitial fluid and toxins-processing, absorbing and releasing in an ongoing cycle. This network of lymph nodes and vessels works constantly, carrying a clear fluid (similar to plasma), called lymph. This lymph is comprised of tissue fluid, waste products, immune system cells and a lot more; moving through an intricate cleaning system. 

The lymphatic system is unique in the fact that there isn’t a ‘pump’ to move the fluid through the body. Check it out: The circulatory system has a really strong pump…the heart. The heart pumps about 1/3 cup of blood with each beat. In the average adult, this is approximately 6,000-7,500 liters of blood daily! 

Unlike the circulatory system, the lymphatic system relies on muscle contraction, gravity and manual methods to push the fluid through the body. Another interesting factoid—unlike the circulatory system, the lymphatic system flows in one direction…toward the heart. The amount of lymph an active adult processes daily is only 8-12 liters per day with 4-8 liters being reabsorbed. Come again? Yep, it’s about 14 ounces per hour. A resting body will only process about 4 ounces of lymph an hour. 

So imagine, if you’re sick, how much toxic, infected lymph can your body filter? Not much, because if you’re sick, you’re not likely moving around much. You’re in bed, trying to get better. It seems unfair, but that’s where chair massage and other massage modalities ring true. If your body can’t push it through naturally, flush it out manually.

Many factors will compromise an otherwise the lymphatic system:

Immune deficiency-born with a weak system

Acquired immune deficiency-getting a disease or illness that weakens your system

Overactive-this occurs with an allergic reaction

Autoimmune-your body’s system turns against you

What does all this mean? All you really need to know is that it’s critical (especially in these uncertain times), to keep your immune system healthy. If you were born with an immune deficiency, or have an acquired deficiency, take the necessary measures to ensure you stay ahead of the curve. For relatively healthy individuals, take stock and continue to do the things that have boosted your immune system. Oh, and get chair massage.

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