Alcohol and Your Lymphatic System

If you’re one of many millions taking part in Dry January this month, you might like to know that abstaining from alcohol isn’t just helping your liver and your energy levels, but your lymphatic system too. Which is great news for your immune system and your overall health.

The lymphatic system helps filter bacteria and toxins from lymph nodes dotted all over the body using lymph, a clear fluid made up of white blood cells. As these are removed, immune fighting lymphocytes are added to the nodes which helps support the immune system and the body’s ability to ward off infections, viruses and injuries.

When you drink alcohol, the hard work of the lymphatic system is disrupted, meaning it cannot adequately filter out toxins from the body. Given that alcohol itself is a toxin, consumption of it means the body is further overloaded but now without an effective way of ridding these toxins. When this happens, it leaves the immune system weaker and more vulnerable to infection. Alcohol, especially when drunk to excess also causes inflammation in several areas of the body including the liver, pancreas and intestine. This means key cells and molecules that operate within these organs can’t do so properly and the immune system becomes dysregulated as a result.

To combat the effects of alcohol there are several things to try including lymphatic drainage massage which can help kick start your body’s own system if it’s sluggish, as well as consuming plenty of water to keep you hydrated. Dehydration is one of the most common causes of lymphatic congestion which can aggravate existing lymph problems. Finally, keep an eye on your body and be mindful of how it reacts to alcohol. While you may not want to stop drinking altogether, understanding how your body behaves and noticing its natural limit could help you create new drinking habits and reduce the amount of stress placed on your lymphatic and immune systems.