Simple Ways to Activate Your Lymphatic System
By Marilee Nelson |
We are all looking for ways to improve our family’s health. The lymphatic system is an essential part of the immune system that fights infection and produces disease-fighting white blood cells. Incorporating some of the tips below is a great way to strengthen your family’s immunity!
The lymph system is the body’s sanitation system. It flushes toxins out of the body and keeps blood and fluid levels in balance. When lymph (also known as lymphatic fluid) doesn’t move, our cells, tissues and organs can’t effectively remove waste products. The lymphatic system needs to be stimulated daily through movement to prevent it from declining or becoming stagnant, causing issues like persistent headaches, brain fog, lack of energy, sore throat, bloating, skin issues, and much more.
Below are simple ways to naturally activate your lymphatic system and encourage your body’s natural detoxification process. These tips can easily be incorporated into your everyday routine and as a byproduct you’ll reap the benefits of a healthy lymphatic system that contributes to many other major bodily functions.
1. Practice Deep Breathing
Never underestimate the power of breathing! The simple exercise of diaphragmatic breathing activates the lymphatic system and detoxifies the body. Diaphragmatic breathing should engage your stomach, abdominal muscles and diaphragm; think conscious, deep breaths that truly move your body. This practice helps you get closer to reaching your lungs’ full capacity and facilitates movement of lymph through the bloodstream while decreasing the amount of toxins.
Take a few minutes every day for deep breathing. Go outside (or do this at your desk) and get in a comfortable position standing, sitting or lying down. Breathe in slowly through your nose while actively pushing out the stomach. Slowly let your breath go out through your nose as the stomach goes down. Video demonstration: Diaphragmatic Breathing.
2. Stay Hydrated
It’s important to stay hydrated for your general wellbeing, but drinking purified water to combat dehydration is crucial to a healthy lymphatic system. Dehydration leads lymph fluid to become thick and unable to move through the body. When the body is properly hydrated, the easier lymph fluid can flow. The best method to improve hydration is to sip hot water every 15 minutes throughout the day. Hot water in particular improves digestion and flushes toxins from the lymph. We suggest keeping a thermos nearby to keep water hot and accessible.
It’s important to remember that you actually can drink too much water. A way to gauge your hydration level is by checking urine color. Urine should be a pale yellow. Darker amber colored urine indicates the need for more water. If your urine is clear, you are drinking too much water. See Dehydrated Urine Colors chart for reference.
3. Keep Your Body Moving
In a technology-obsessed society, we can slip into a habit of spending a lot of our time sitting and looking at screens between work and relaxation. It’s important to move your body regularly for a variety of reasons – a healthy lymphatic system is just one. A proper functioning lymphatic system depends on muscle movement to circulate fluids and pump the lymph within vessels. If you’re sedentary for long periods of time, lymph fluid can build up and become congested which leads to swelling in the body.
Light exercise like walking, stretching and yoga can get lymph moving. Try not to sit for longer than 20 minutes at a time without getting up for a few minutes. Take a meeting standing up, do stretches during a break, then take a walk to decompress after the workday (and don’t forget to breathe deeply!). Studies show one of the best ways to activate lymphatic flow is by taking a brisk walk once a day while pumping your arms.
Jumping rope can be a really fun way to mobilize the lymphatic system. Just a few minutes of jumping rope each day is an easy routine to stick to that gets that lymph flowing. Working at home? Set a timer to jump rope a couple of times during your work day to get you up out of your chair. Have a family jumping session - kids will love that!
One of the most effective ways to enhance lymphatic circulation is jumping on a mini-trampoline. Studies show that just two minutes of the basic “health bounce” flushes the entire lymphatic system and causes the white blood cells of the immune system to triple in number. The “health bounce” is a gentle bounce that anyone can do. Stand on the mat with your feet shoulder width apart. Lightly bounce up and down making sure that your feet DON’T come off the mat. Do this for two minutes, three times a day!
4. Eat Foods that Promote Lymph Flow
Processed foods are tough for the body to digest and can cause inflammation and clogging within the lymphatic system. This is why our bodies become sluggish after eating too much processed food. Keep your diet rich in fresh vegetables and fruits as they act as a natural cleanse and retain energy levels. Leafy, dark green vegetables are specifically beneficial for detoxification and combatting backup as chlorophyll purifies the lymph and blood. Good sources of healthy fats that are rich in essential fatty acids like nuts, seeds, avocados, oils (olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil), ghee and butter promote lymph flow. Stock your home with nutritious, whole foods you can reach for when hungry and try to plan meals around more green vegetables.
5. Dry Brush Your Skin Daily
Dry brushing is a technique of brushing the skin with a natural, dry, stiff-bristled brush. It is said to improve circulation, stimulate lymph flow and exfoliate the skin. It supports toxic drainage as the lymphatic system is stimulated and toxins are excreted more efficiently from the body. It’s recommended to dry brush for a few minutes each day before you shower, as you can wash off any dead skin cells straightaway.
Activating your lymphatic system doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming, it just takes commitment to small lifestyle changes. When lymph is moving through your body easily your complexion improves, energy and mood levels rise, and you reduce the risk of catching viruses like the flu. Try incorporating these simple tips into your daily routine to reinforce healthy behavior – and remember that optimal health is a marathon, not a sprint.
Want to dig deeper into your lymphatic system? See our post on 16 Ways to Detox Your Lymphatic System.
Marilee Nelson is an Environmental Toxins expert who has spent nearly 30 years advocating for the chemically-sensitive and chronically-ill. She is a Board Certified Nutritionist, Certified Bau-Biologist and Bau-Biology Inspector and specializes in Food As Medicine. She has helped thousands of families and individuals identify, heal and recover from toxic exposures and is on a mission to revolutionize the way American families view their health.