How to care for one of the most important, yet overlooked systems in our bodies…
This post comes from our Blog Intern, Emily.
Sensitive should be my middle name. I have a sensitive body, sensitive skin, sensitive stomach. It’s all okay, though. I try to adapt and I have become more familiar with what my body needs to thrive. I’m always trying to feel my best and I gravitate towards anything that will nourish my body or improve my well being.
Recently, my lymphatic system has been added to the list of sensitivities. I notice that after I have a few drinks (even after one glass of wine sometimes) or eat sugary foods my lymph nodes swell up and my skin becomes uncomfortably tender. I’ve been trying to sort it out for a few months, but haven’t yet been brave enough to completely cut out sugar and alcohol… although I am taking small steps to improve my overall health. That being said, I am catering my efforts a little more towards what my lymphatic system appreciates.
The primary function of our lymphatic system is to cleanse the body of toxins and protect from harmful attackers. A poorly functioning lymphatic system is a risk factor in the short term and can lead to chronic illness in the long term. Just like your pipes and sink drains, your lymphatic system can get “clogged”. It’s never too early to be proactive and avoid a sluggish lymphatic system; there’s a lot you can do and with the following tips, improving your lymphatic system is fairly simple.
Dry Brushing. This is a very simple and quick act. It’s an act of self love, if anything. Just before showering, take 3-5 minutes to slowly dry brush your body. Dry brushing removes dead skin cells, stimulates sweat glands, opens pores, encourages lymph movement, removes cellulite, and boosts circulation. Simply brush the skin with a coarse bristle brush towards the heart. It may take a few weeks of doing this before you notice improvements!
Legs Up the Wall. Getting your feet above your heart will help drain the lymph towards your heart.
Movement: Yoga, Pilates, Running. Any form of exercise contracts and relaxes the muscles, which is mainly how lymph moves throughout the body.
Saunas and Steam Rooms. Sweat it out. Perspiring is an amazing way to help rid toxins from the body and get your lymph draining.
Rebounding. Jump! Jumping jacks or jumping on a mini trampoline for 10-30 minutes is one of the easiest ways to get your lymph pumping and improve circulation. Best part: it’s fun.
Probiotics and Enzymes. Digestion and immune health is necessary to staying well, increasing the flow of lymph, and detoxification process.
Massage. This gets toxins moving and circulating, helping decrease stagnancy on the lymphatic system. Who doesn’t love a good massage? There’s even specific Lymphatic Massages that focus on lessening the burden on the system!
Raw Foods. Incorporating raw foods into your diet on a daily basis is an amazing way to ensure a healthy lymphatic system. Raw foods contain natural enzymes and nutrients that promote detoxification, help alkalize, and increase hydration.
Herbs. Certain herbs like Manjistha, Milk Thistle, Essiac Tea, Red Clover, Cleavers, Bupleurum and Rehmannia are effective in increasing flow and drainage. Just be sure to do your research and consult with an herbalist/naturopath before taking.
Hydrate. Dehydration is one of the most common causes of a sluggish lymph. Drink lemon water daily to help expedite hydration and alkalize the system.
An Anti-Inflammatory Diet. A diet rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory foods, and healthy fats is an especially good idea to assist all of our systems.
Avoid Tight Clothes and Go Wireless. Wear wireless bras and looser clothes to avoid restriction on lymphatic vessels. Lymph nodes are highly concentrated around the chest region: breasts, arms, and the chest. Tight clothes and wire bras restricts the flow of lymph drainage.
Reduce Stress. When is this not an important factor in our health? The good thing is that a lot of the mentioned above is stress-relieving: massage, dry brushing, yoga, movement, eating well. Take deep breaths, decompress, maintain good posture, stretch, and give meditation a go!
+Do you have any tips to help support the lymphatic system?