Numerous fads have surfaced in the wellness world revolving around detoxes and cleanses, most with minimal emphasis on lymphatic health. Many people know the importance of removing toxins from the body but still may not understand how the body expels them. The lymphatic system is a star player in the body’s sanitation procedure, essentially cleansing every cell. The system is composed of the lymph nodes, spleen, tonsils, thymus gland, and bone marrow. It works to fight off illness and infections by producing white blood cells and removing harmful waste from tissues and organs.
A highly efficient lymphatic system is critical in maintaining healthy immune function due to its ability to drain excess fluid and toxins. The lymphatic system is also responsible for collecting fats and fat-soluble vitamins from the digestive tract and transporting them to each cell. Providing essential nutrients and maintaining vitality, the lymphatic system works full time to keep us healthy.
Despite being the largest circulatory network in the body, the lymphatic system relies on our input to operate well. This system does not have an automatic pump like the heart to keep fluids moving. Instead, it depends on body movement, breath, muscular activity, and a healthy digestive system to remove the body’s waste.
Many poor lifestyle habits contribute to a congested or stagnant lymphatic system. Consumption of processed foods, exposure to chemicals, a sedentary lifestyle, and nutrient deficiency can put this system out of balance. When lymph nodes are not draining correctly, they create an environment for disease and inflammation to develop.
Some visible signs of lymphatic blockage include:
1. Sinus infections
3. Lack of energy
4. Mucus or pain in the throat
5. Acne, dryness, or other skin conditions
6. Bloating or swelling in the extremities
7. Inability to fight infection or heal quickly
8. Arms and hands fall asleep while sleeping
9. Soreness or stiffness in the morning
Here are a few guidelines to help you strengthen and reinforce your lymphatic system for optimal health and wellbeing.
Physical activity is essential for a healthy lymphatic system. Yoga is an excellent gentle movement that activates lymphatic drainage. The mixture of deep breathing and stretching creates a pumping action that initiates the release of toxins. Dynamic, intense exercise is great too. Jumping on a trampoline is one of the best ways to clear congestion. The act of propelling the body up and down charges lymph function. With the help of gravitational pull, the valves begin to open and close. A brisk walk can also trigger the lymphatic system. Just 15 minutes is enough to promote the flow of fluid. Swing the arms with each step for increased benefit.
2. Hot/Cold Showers
Hot water dilates the blood vessels while cold water constricts them. This alternation between hot and cold essentially creates a pumping action within the body. It forces movement and excretion of the toxins and fluids that may have been stagnant.
3. Dry Brushing
With circular motions, start from the feet working up to the center body, then continue at the hands moving down the arms towards the heart. This practice has an array of benefits and is effective in promoting lymphatic drainage. Try this practice for ten minutes with a natural bristled brush. Follow with a hot/cold shower and finish with a self-massage using a natural chemical-free oil.
4. Stay Hydrated
Dehydration is a major cause of congestion. Drinking pure water helps to clean the body and encourages the release of toxins. Try sipping on warm water with lemon throughout the day to boost its purifying effect.
5. Wear Loose Fitting Clothing
Allowing the skin to breathe is essential. Tight synthetic material reduces circulation and results in lymphatic blockages, restricting drainage. Aim to wear natural fabrics and change out of tight clothing whenever possible. Long periods in constrictive clothing add to an accumulation of toxins in the body. For women, it is a good idea to switch to a natural fabric bra. Select one that is loose fitting without a wire. A large number of lymph nodes are located at the armpit. Tight bras will inhibit drainage of the chest.
Take long, mindful, deep breaths. The deeper we breathe, the stronger the pumping action we create. The breath helps to transport toxins through the blood to the liver. Deep breathing alone will help detox the body.
7. Eat Right
Processed foods, refined flour, and sugar cause lymphatic congestion. Instead of fast food, opt for organic fruits and vegetables. Leafy greens and algae (chlorella, spirulina) have a high chlorophyll concentration. Chlorophyll is a super purifier. Healthy fats found in nuts, seeds, avocado, and olive oil can also support lymphatic health.
8. Drink Herbal Tea
Many herbs are known to help stimulate lymphatic flow. Try drinking steeped astragalus, ginger, fenugreek, or echinacea tea.
9. Lymphatic Massage
Schedule a professional lymphatic massage session or incorporate a self-massage into your routine. This gentle skin movement will stimulate lymphatic function and provide an array of other benefits, including increased energy, improved immune function, and healthier skin. Most of the lymph nodes are located on the front of the body, making self-lymphatic massage an easily accessible practice. It’s important to note that the lymph nodes are located very close to the skin’s surface and require little to no pressure to become stimulated. For best results, press just enough to move the skin. Use light rhythmic strokes as the lymphatic system moves slowly.
Our entire body is alive, and we should imagine that we are feeding every cell with everything we eat, touch, breathe, drink, and wear. Chemical-based products and cleaners inhibit the lymphatic system from operating efficiently. Pesticides on food can also put stress on this system. By introducing simple habits into your routine, you can boost lymphatic function and overall health. Every step we take for our well-being makes a difference. By investing in ourselves now, we will reap a healthy future.