Your lymphatic system makes a huge difference in your health and overall well being. It is tied to the circulatory system, but, despite this relation, it is too often ignored or forgotten. We remember it only when problems with our lymph nodes arise, usually during some type of infection. However, we need to be more familiar with this vital system.
The lymphatic system is a part of weight control, the immune system, the cleansing of blood, and the detoxification of our bodies. A huge network of lymphatic vessels recycles blood plasma by removing fluid from the tissues, filtering it, and carrying it back into the bloodstream.
Here are 10 foods to incorporate into your diet to boost the lymphatic system:
- Leafy greens
- Nuts and seeds (like Chia Seeds)
- Adaptogens like Ashwagandha or Mushroom
Lymphoid tissue is also a part of digestion, absorbing fats from the intestines and transporting it to the blood. It also carries white blood cells throughout our bodies to remove foreign waste and dangerous microorganisms.
The lymphatic system is responsible for the removal of waste, toxins, and harmful material/organisms from the tissues, including excess fat. This has a large impact on fat accumulation and cellulite. The problem is twofold. If excess fat is not removed, the body responds by storing more. If toxins are not removed, fat cells come to the rescue and encapsulate the offending matter. Encouraging the storage of unnecessary fat in this form the body will then use it to free up toxins.
Getting the lymphatic system healthy and functional can help it better remove the toxic sources of aches, pains, fatty deposits, and cellulite.
Start treating your lymphatic system better by avoiding toxins, chemicals, and foods that are hard to digest—that means processed foods that are steeped in pesticides, preservatives, and artificial ingredients. Then begin adding more of these foods to your life.
10 Foods to Add to Your Diet to Boost the Lymphatic System
Maybe it isn’t a food, but it is vital to life. Drink plenty of clean, purified water. Water keeps the lymph fluid hydrated and flowing smoothly.
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Cranberry is an excellent emulsifier of fat. It will help break down excess fat for the lymphatic vessels to carry away. Choose fresh cranberry fruits and juices, not the sweetened and pasteurized processed ones.
3. Leafy Greens
Chlorophyll, the green nutrient that captures sunlight, has powerful cleansing properties and beneficial effects on the blood and thus on lymph fluid as well. Look for dark greens for chlorophyll like kale, spinach, wheatgrass, barley grass, turnip greens, dandelion leaves, broccoli, and mustard greens.
When in doubt, just double the amount of green foods on your plate. Leafy greens are so important for many aspects of our health. If you can't get enough on your plate, try a greens supplement.
4. Nuts and Seeds
Essential fatty acids, the healthy fats found in seeds like chia, nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, sacha inchi, coconut, and avocado, play a role in fighting inflammation. They also strengthen vascular tissue, help in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and minerals, and aid in the removal of fat-soluble wastes. The herb purslane is another good source.
Goldenseal, Echinacea, and Astragalus are three herbs that help alleviate inflammation and congestion of the lymph nodes and vessels. There is also Ashwagandha and Mushrooms. You can implement them in your diet with herbal tinctures or teas.
Garlic boosts immune function and combats harmful microbes. It improves circulation and aids in the cleansing of toxins. It boosts the function of your lymphatic system and has an antibacterial quality to it. Use actual garlic in your cooking instead of the processed powder kind that comes in shakers for the best results.
Ginger has beneficial effects on digestion and circulation, two systems that are tied directly to the lymphatic system. If you’re around the holidays, you may use ginger in your cooking already. However, it’s important to eat ginger on a semi-regular basis.
Turmeric is related to ginger. It helps reduce inflammation, thins the blood, and improves circulation. These effects help to support the processes of the lymphatic system.
Sea vegetables help the body detox and eliminate excess fluid that can build up in tissues and slow the lymphatic system down.
Citrus fruits aid hydration, carry powerful antioxidants and enzymes, and help cleanse and protect the lymphatic system. They aren’t alone. Fresh fruit and vegetable juices of all sorts will deliver more hydration, enzymes, and antioxidants to the body.
But don’t rely on foods alone!
Here are five ways you can improve the function of your lymphatic system and keep it healthy:
- Deep breathing
- Get moving
- Stretch or practice yoga
- Dry brushing
- Look at your cosmetics and skincare products
Keep your lymphatic system healthy by breathing deeply. Breathing exercises create movement which moves lymph fluid more efficiently while resupplying oxygen and boosting circulation. Get a gentle massage to move stagnant fluid back into the lymph system, break up toxins, and boost your mood at the same time.
Physical activity is important to lymphatic health too. This system doesn’t have a central organ like the heart to keep everything flowing. It relies on the movement of our body, breathing, and the contractions of all our muscles to move the lymph fluid along. Jump rope, trampoline rebounding, and jumping jacks are three great exercises to really get lymph fluid going.
5 Tips On Keeping Your Lymphatic System Healthy
1. Deep Breathing
Remember to breath. Sometimes life can get hectic and you forget to take a moment and just breathe. Deep breathing helps to serve as a pump for your lymphatic system, keeping lymph fluid flowing as it should. By taking the time to focus on your breath, your lymph fluid flows at a pace ideal for removing harmful toxins and carrying oxygen around the body. Start by adding 10 minutes of yogic breathing or meditation to your morning.
2. Get Moving
Whether it’s a brisk walk or a full-on sweaty workout, physical activity is essential for keeping your lymphatic system healthy. Sweating toxins out of the body helps to keep your lymphatic system clean and in top shape. Activities like jump rope and trampolining are specifically recommended for supporting lymphatic function as they increase blood flow and boost overall immunity.
3. Stretch or Practice Yoga
If you’re not already on the yoga bandwagon, here’s another reason to start a daily practice. Stretching or yoga can be especially effective for boosting the lymphatic system. Holding yoga poses combined with deep breathing is not only great for alleviating stress but increases the flow of the lymphatic system and relieves lymphatic congestion.
4. Dry Brushing
Dry brushing, gets your lymphatic system moving as it is located right below your skin. A gentle massage of your skin along with dry brushing will help get rid of toxins and improve circulation in your lymph nodes.
5. Look at Your Cosmetics and Skincare Products
You sweat through your skin but you also absorb through your skin. Skin is the body’s largest organ. What you put on your skin in the form of cosmetics and skincare products goes into the body, adding to the toxin buildup in your lymphatic system.
Your cosmetic and skincare products can be concealing several harmful ingredients you probably didn’t know about. Avoid products with preservatives, foaming agents, synthetic preservatives, and fragrances. Instead, look for products that are safe and natural with food-grade ingredients.
Understanding how the lymphatic system works and how to activate it is essential. With the right foods, you can help to streamline your detoxification and boost your overall immunity. The best part is that keeping your lymphatic system in tip-top shape doesn’t take much. By drinking plenty of water, regular exercise and healthy food choices, your body can be in its best condition possible.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on March 20, 2014 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.