Our lymphatic system, which is responsible for removing waste products from the body, plays a vital part in our immunity and overall health. It functions using a system of lymphatic tubules which are located throughout the entire body. These tubules collect waste from cells and transport it (via lymph fluid) out of the body.
A sluggish lymphatic system causes a buildup of waste and toxins, which is believed to play a role in inflammation and disease. Considering that we are exposed to between 700,000 and 2.1 million different toxic chemicals a day – in everything from our food to our personal care products – it’s no wonder that many people’s lymphatic systems are struggling to keep up the pace!
Here are 15 ways you can support and enhance lymphatic drainage in your body:
1. Drink More Water To Flush Your Lymphatic System
Without adequate water intake, the body’s lymph fluid cannot flow properly. When this happens, it retains all the waste it collected from the cells, allowing it to ‘sit’ in the body.
By staying hydrated with clean, pure water we can ensure the lymph system operates to the best of its ability. We all have different water needs, depending on our activity levels, climate, food intake, and weight. A good way to determine if you are drinking enough water is by checking the color of your urine – it should be pale or straw colored.
If you’re struggling to meet your needs, try making your drink more appealing with the addition of berries, and other fruits and herbs; and swap your morning coffee for a healthy cup of warm lemon water.
2. Eat A Variety of Fruits and Raw Vegetables
Fruits and raw vegetables of all kinds help the lymph system move waste more efficiently from the body.
Raw foods contain enzymes and antioxidants that help break down toxins. They are also highly alkaline-forming foods, which reduce the burden on the lymphatic system as a whole.
Leafy greens are of particular importance as they contain chlorophyll, a nutrient that has powerful cleansing properties and benefits both the blood and lymph fluid. Citrus fruits and berries are also thought to be especially cleansing.
Of course, any types of fruits and vegetables count, particularly as we tend to get about 20% of our fluid intake from food. High-water produce includes celery, cucumber, pears, melons, grapes, apples, berries, bell peppers, and lettuce.
3. Feed Your Lymphatic System With Nuts & Seeds
Raw and unsalted nuts and seeds are full of ‘healthy fats’ in the form of the essential fatty acids omega 3 and omega 6. These are vital for quelling inflammation, promoting lymph flow, and aiding in the removal of fat-soluble wastes.
The fiber content of nuts and seeds keeps the body regular, while their rich vitamin and mineral load provides valuable nutrients which we require to adequately detox and rejuvenate.
4. Use Herbs & Spices That Boost Lymphatic Function
All kinds of culinary herbs and spices boast health benefits such as fighting inflammation, aiding digestion, boosting circulation, and cleansing the body – thus benefiting lymph flow.
Those that deserve honorable mention include:
- Garlic – this natural antibiotic kills bacteria and viruses, whilst boosting immune function. It’s also known as a powerful detoxifier.
- Ginger – is well known to relieve nausea and improve digestive function. As a ‘hot’ spice, ginger boosts circulation and encourages sweating.
- Turmeric – this healing root is a potent anti-inflammatory, which thins the blood, and increases circulation.
Other great options include cayenne, cinnamon, black pepper, cardamom, and coriander.
5. Detox Your Lymphatic System With Sea Vegetables
Some of the most nutritious vegetables we can consume don’t grow on land, they’re found in the sea! More commonly known as seaweed, sea vegetables are chock full of nutrients and benefit our health in a number of ways.
Seaweed can help rid the body of toxins by binding to heavy metals, according to Canadian researchers at McGill University in Montreal. They can also improve digestive function and fight inflammation.
In times of cold and flu, sea vegetables like kombu, wakame, and nori can reduce lymphatic swelling because of their nutrient load and anti-inflammatory properties.
Why not try some of these delicious seaweed recipes?
6. Use Medicinal Herbs To Cleanse Your Body
Herbs like Echinacea, goldenseal, Devil’s Claw, cleavers, calendula, red clover, Astragalus, and wild indigo root have all been used by naturopaths and herbalists to improve lymphatic function, and help remove waste from the body.
Try this lymph cleansing herbal infusion – containing calendula, cleavers, and mullein – for two weeks to boost a sluggish lymphatic system.
Keep in mind that these herbs are potent medicines. As such, they should be avoided during pregnancy. Those on medication should consult with a medical professional before consuming.
7. Practice Deep Breathing On a Daily Basis
Sitting down regularly to practice breathing – something we do every minute of every day of our lives – may seem silly, but it provides so many health benefits, from relieving stress to reducing pain.
Possibly one of the greatest benefits of deep breathing is its ability to aid detoxification. Unlike the heart, the lymphatic system doesn’t have its own built-in pump so it relies on both breathing and movement to clear toxins from the body.
Deep breathing also helps us efficiently exhale carbon dioxide through the lungs – another important part of detoxing and reducing the risk of illness.
8. Get a Massage To Stimulate the Lymphatic Circulation
Because the lymphatic system is close to the surface of the skin, deep pressure isn’t required to stimulate movement.
For this reason, a number of tactile treatments can be beneficial, including a gentle massage, which helps free toxins.
Special lymphatic drainage massages are also available, and have been shown to push up to 78% of stagnant lymph back into circulation.
9. Get Into the Habit of Dry Skin Brushing
Brushing the skin daily with a dry brush before bathing is a fantastic way to boost lymphatic circulation and drainage.
This technique – which has been used since ancient times – also improves circulation and digestion, reduces cellulite, and contributes to healthy skin.
Dry brushing involves a specific but simple technique, which sees you brush in circular motions toward the heart – the direction the lymph is flowing. Learn more about how and why to dry brush here.
10. Armpit Detox and Natural Deodorant
Conventional antiperspirants carry some potential health risks, and actually work by blocking the body’s sweat glands. However, we were born with up to four million sweat glands for a reason. They are one of our main channels of detoxification!
If the body struggles to eliminate these toxins thanks to a build-up of pore-plugging chemicals in the skin, the lymphatic system can become clogged.
Naturally detoxing your armpits – which you can learn about here – will free up your sweat glands so your body can release these toxins as nature intended. Also, consider buying all-natural or making your own chemical-free beauty products. By doing so, you can be sure to avoid these toxic skin-care ingredients.
11. Use Hydrotherapy To Stimulate Lymphatic Circulation
Alternating between warm and cold water in your morning shower may seem like cruel and unusual punishment, but it’s actually a form of therapy called hydrotherapy.
This works to constrict and expand blood vessels which improves circulation and stimulates the movement of fluid through the lymphatic system. The immune system also kicks into action.
Other benefits of hydrotherapy include glossy hair and glowing skin, less stress, pain relief, increased willpower, and improved energy levels.
Those with heart conditions or high blood pressure should avoid this therapy, as should pregnant women.
12. Workout Regularly To Supercharge Lymphatic System Function
Daily exercise is probably one of the most effective ways of speeding lymphatic drainage. Working out increases the rate of breathing, boosts circulation, and encourages greater fluid intake. These are all vital to the healthy movement of lymph fluid.
One of the most popular exercises for lymphatic drainage is rebounding. Exercises like running, jogging, walking, or working out with kettlebells also have a similar effect. Several yoga positions also help boost the lymphatic system.
13. Relax In A Sauna To Improve Lymphatic Detoxification
Relaxing and sweating in a sauna is a fantastic way to reduce stress levels, whilst getting the toxins out. The increase in circulation and body heat improves lymphatic flow.
A far-infrared sauna – which heats the body directly instead of heating the air – is more effective for the lymph system. Or, if you prefer it, the tradition sauna will still provide the similar benefits.
14. Practice Lymphatic Drainage Exercises
Cleanse your main lymph nodes in just 15 minutes with these easy-to-apply at home techniques.
Manually stimulating the lymphatic system in this manner helps increase both its flow and carrying capacity, helping it to process up to 10 times more fluid than normal!
You’ll also increase the production of lymphocytes, which boost the body’s ability to fight infections; while enjoying all-over relaxation.
15. Wear Loose Clothing to Improve Lymphatic Circulation
Tight-fitting clothing and underwear can hinder both circulation and lymphatic flow, leading to blockages. Instead, embrace loose and comfortable clothing when you can, and change out of restrictive garments as soon as possible.
Further Recommended Reading
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