The lymphatic system is often overlooked, but it’s incredibly important to your body’s health. The lymphatic system is a network of vessels that transports fluid, nutrients, and immune cells throughout your body. It also removes waste products from your tissues and helps rid your body of toxins. Thankfully, there are plenty of simple things you can do in your daily life to keep your lymphatic system running in tip-top shape.
What Is The Lymphatic System and How Does It Work?
The lymphatic system works in tandem with the cardiovascular system to keep you healthy. One of its most important jobs is removing excess fluids from interstitial spaces (the space between cells), which keeps them healthy and plump by keeping them well-hydrated. (1)
What Happens When The Lymphatic System Doesn’t work properly?
When the lymphatic system doesn’t work properly, it can lead to a number of health issues. If you have a sluggish or inefficient lymphatic system, then you may experience:
- Weight gain due to fluid retention (especially in your face and abdomen)
- Cellulite (fatty deposits under the skin that look like dimples)
- Muscle aches and pains
- Back pain
- Swelling in your legs, ankles and face
- Poor immunity (you get sick more often)
- Tightness under the skin around your fingers, hands and feet
Because lymphatic flow can be affected by diet, lifestyle habits, and even genetics, it’s important for everyone to know how to support their own system so that they can live their best lives without worrying about symptoms like swelling or inflammation.
Ways To Support Your Lymphatic System
Thankfully, supporting your lymphatic system isn’t that complicated. Truthfully it is just the simple act of living a healthy, active lifestyle. These are just a few things you can do to support the health of your lymphatic system.
Drink plenty of water.
The body needs water to maintain good health, and the lymphatic system is no exception. It helps remove toxins from your cells, which in turn helps detoxify your body overall. While plenty of liquids can contribute to your daily water intake, keep most of these as just plain, clean, filtered water. (2)
Eat fiber-rich foods.
Consuming enough fiber can help improve the movement of fluids through your digestive tract and reduce swelling in your legs and ankles by flushing out waste products more efficiently. High-fiber foods to especially include are dark green, leafy vegetables, other fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
Being inactive can contribute to swelling in the lymphatic system, which is why it’s important to stay active on a regular basis. Try walking for at least 30 minutes a day or doing some light exercise like yoga or tai chi to help keep your lymph fluid flowing freely throughout your body. Always remember, the best exercise plan is the one that you will stick to, so find something that you enjoy that gets you moving.
Deep breathing exercises.
Breathing exercises help reduce swelling and increase the flow of lymph fluid, which can improve the immune system’s ability to fight off disease. Try deep breathing for five minutes a day, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. You can also try doing this while lying down or sitting in a chair with both feet flat on the floor and hands resting on your lap.
Avoid lymphatic-inhibiting foods.
Some foods can block the lymphatic system, which is why it’s important to avoid them if you have swollen glands. These include high-fat meats, cheese and other dairy products, fried foods and processed meats. Instead, eat more fruits and vegetables as well as lean proteins like fish.
Take Hot and Cold Showers
According to expert Jennifer Weinberg, M.D, taking hot and cold showers can help reduce swollen lymph nodes. Try alternating between hot and cold water for about 30 seconds each. This helps stimulate the lymphatic system and get rid of toxins. (3)
Dr. Weinberg says that this is another way to help your lymphatic system. Use an all-natural bristle brush on dry skin in the morning and evening before bathing. This helps stimulate circulation and can help reduce swollen glands.
Lymphatic Draining Massage
A lymphatic draining massage is another way to help reduce swollen lymph nodes. A certified massage therapist can do this type of massage, which helps move lymph fluid through the lymphatic vessels and out of your body.
Stress is a common cause of swollen glands, so managing it is important. Take time each day to relax, meditate or do whatever activity helps you unwind from the stresses of your life. Consider doing yoga or using a meditation app to help guide you.
Choose natural and organic products
Whenever possible, choose natural and/or organic products for your daily use. Avoid using harsh chemicals, synthetic fragrances and other ingredients that can irritate sensitive skin. Use natural products like organic soaps, shampoos and lotions to keep your skin healthy. This includes choosing organic foods, so that you avoid exposing yourself to pesticides and other.
Drink herbal teas that promote lymphatic flow
There are many herbal teas that promote lymphatic flow, including dandelion root tea, ginger tea and nettle leaf tea. Drink a cup of your favorite herbal tea before bed to help keep your lymphatic system healthy and prevent it from becoming congested.
The Bottom Line
There are many ways to help keep your lymphatic system functioning properly. The most important of these are related to a healthy lifestyle: Exercise, a healthy diet, plenty of water, and a regular sleep routine. Without these, everything else won’t get you the results you want.
- “Lymphatic System.” Cleveland Clinic
- “Exercise, positioning and lymphoedema.” Cancer Research UK
- “This Lymphatic Cleanse Can Balance Your Whole Body In 5 Simple Steps.” Mind Body Green. Jennifer Weinberg, M.D., MPH, MBE. February 10, 2020.