Weight loss isn’t a simple matter for everyone. In fact, obesity has multiple causes that don’t always include overeating or lack of exercise.
Recently, specialists at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have discovered that the lymphatic system may play a role in weight gain (1).
The lymphatic system is an integral part of the immune system and carries lymph, a white liquid made of white blood cells, proteins and fats (2).
The Lymph-Fat Connection
Leaky lymphatic vessels were the leading cause of the adult onset obesity observed in the study’s laboratory model (1).
The researchers explained that this fluid stimulates the accumulation of fat, particularly in regions rich in lymphatic vessels.
Fat cells near leaky vessels under the skin and in the abdomen were significantly larger than normal, and therefore capable of storing a larger amount of lipids (1).
“This is the first such evidence in an in vivo model showing that defects in the integrity of the lymphatic vasculature could lead to adult obesity,” said Guillermo Oliver, Ph.D., an associate member of the Genetics and Tumor Cell Biology Department at St. Jude.
“This told us that the type of obesity we were seeing in this laboratory model was different from forms of obesity that are commonly associated with diabetes.”
“Our findings might encourage physicians to consider that at least some of their obese patients might be suffering from a problem that can’t be solved by eating less and exercising more,” Explains Dr. Oliver (1).
Uncontrolled lymphatic drainage can also be the source of significant health problems for a patient, and it can lead to wound infection in up to 57% of cases.
Lymph leaks are difficult to manage and often result in prolonged hospital stays and expensive treatment (3).
If you find yourself rapidly gaining weight without changing your lifestyle or unable to lose weight despite healthy eating and frequent exercise, talk to your doctor and request a thorough check-up.
How To Keep Your Lymphatic System Healthy
Lymphatic health is also important for cardiovascular, digestive and immune health (4).
In fact, Ayurveda, a well-respected traditional medicine, sees the lymphatic system as the first order of business in healing the body.
To keep your lymph nodes and vessels healthy, eat high antioxidant foods, like blueberries and manjistha, which are know to nourish and protect these structures (5, 6,7).
You can also manage the condition with a healthy diet and regular exercise. In some cases, surgery may be required to repair any broken vessels (8).