Your lymphatic system plays an important role in maintaining your body in good general health. Struggling to lose weight? No energy? Feeling achy? Like millions of people in the Western world, your lymphatic system may need a boost. Jumpstart your body’s toxic waste removal unit with these 10 really simple lifestyle changes.
What is the lymphatic system?
The lymph system is a vital part of your immune system. It consists of lymph vessels, which carry around the body a yellowish fluid called lymph, which cleans the cells and carries cellular sewage away from the tissues to the blood. There the waste is transferred to two of the body’s main detoxification organs – the liver and kidneys – where it is be filtered.
Glands, lymph nodes, the spleen, thymus gland and tonsils are also part of the lymphatic system, and all play a role in helping the body to get rid of its waste matter. This unwanted material is created as byproducts of our bodily processes and by stress (the cause of so many diseases), over-the-counter and prescription medications, illicit drugs, cigarette smoke and other airborne pollutants, food additives, pesticides and other toxins.
How to jumpstart your lymph system
In her book The Fat Flush Plan, US doctor Ann Louise Gittleman estimates that some 80 percent of women have sluggish lymphatic systems and that getting them flowing smoothly is the key to improved wellbeing and easy weight loss. So, if you are suffering from injuries, excess weight or cellulite, or pain disorders such as arthritis, bursitis and headaches, a sluggish lymphatic system may be playing a role. Here are 10 natural and easy ways to boost your lymphatic system:
- Breathe consciously and deeply – Although at any point there is three times the amount of lymph coursing around the body than blood, there’s no pump driving it. Instead, the lymph system is powered by deep breathing – the proper movement of air through the lungs – and physical activity. So, breathe in good health, exhale the toxins. Get out of the habit of breathing shallowly.
- Move – Exercise makes your lymph flow properly, boosting its function. Gentle rebounding on a mini trampoline is excellent, says Gittleman, ‘but stretching and aerobic exercise also work well’.
- Say ‘Yes’ to water and ‘No’ to cold drinks, energy drinks and fruit juices – Cold drinks and energy drinks are laden with sugar, colourants and preservatives; fruit juices also contain lots of sugar. Drink water instead. Liquid is needed to make lymph fluid flow as it should. Drinking two litres of good quality water a day is a minimum. Drink it in small amounts throughout the day rather than large amounts all at once. The colour of your urine should be pale yellow.
- Eat more raw fruit, especially when your stomach is empty. Fresh fruit contains enzymes and acids that are powerful lymph cleansers. And their cleaning effect is best when they are taken on an empty stomach. It takes just 30 minutes for most fruits to digest, so their effect is felt quite quickly. Citrus fruits have astringent properties that help increase lymph flow; berries such as cranberries are packed with antioxidants that bolster the immune system, so your lymphatic system doesn’t have to work too hard to fight off disease and illness.
- Eat green vegetables, and lots of them – Green vegetables are rich in chlorophyll, which helps to purify your blood and lymph. Boost your lymph system with dark green veggies such as kale, spinach, wheatgrass and broccoli.
- Eat raw, unsalted nuts and seeds to supply your lymph with adequate fatty acids. Good options are almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamias, Brazil nuts, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. Avocado pears are also a good source of the essential fatty acids that help boost your lymph system.
- Take lymph-boosting herbs and spices such as nettle, dandelion, astragalus, echinacea or goldenseal to help flush the kidneys (drink extra water to help with evacuation of toxins). Or take Flora Force’s Lymph Cleanse™, which has been specially formulated for lymph health. Certain spices and other taste-enhancers added to food are especially good at boosting the lymph system. Garlic improves immune function and helps remove toxins; ginger benefits the digestion and circulation, which are linked to the lymph system, giving it a boost; turmeric helps reduce inflammation and improve circulation.
- Give yourself a dry skin brush before showering. Using a natural bristle brush or natural fibre-covered pad, brush your dry skin in circular motions upward from the feet to the torso and from the fingers to the chest. Work in the same direction your lymph flows – toward the heart – for about five minutes.