The lymphatic system plays a critical role in supporting immune health, so it’s important to take certain steps to strengthen it if you’re experiencing trouble. Without lymph properly flushing the immune system of unwanted substances and transporting antibodies to needed areas, the body is prone to infection and disease. Luckily you can strengthen your immune system in three simple steps.
Change Your Diet
Increasing fiber while decreasing saturated fat, animal protein and dairy will make a noticeable difference for your struggling lymphatic system. Consuming foods like raspberries, pears, apples, whole wheat pasta, barley, peas, lentils, artichokes and broccoli reduce your risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, while animal protein, dairy and other foods high in saturated fat have been known to increase your risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Aim to eliminate or decrease hydrogenated oils, butter, coconut, dark chocolate, fish oil, cheese, processed meats, and nuts and seeds. It’s also wise to decrease your sodium intake, which causes swelling and water retention.
Fine Tune Your Fitness Plan
Regular exercise has been proven to strengthen the lymphatic system by doubling the flow of lymph throughout the body (compared to it being at rest). By incorporating a combination of aerobic, strengthening and stretching exercises into your daily routine, you’re able to enhance your body’s ability to evenly distribute fluid throughout the body, a vital process in reducing and managing chronic swelling. Walking, running, swimming and cycling are all solid options for boosting your heart rate and blood flow. Contraction and compression of the muscles is also key to pushing fluid from your tissues, so be sure to strength train regularly. Water sports are especially effective. Finally, improving flexibility and your range of motion is crucial to strengthening the lymphatic system. Restorative yoga is a great option, and be sure to focus on stretching the head and neck, shoulders, arms, hips, knees and feet areas.
Make Time for TLC
Taking a holistic approach to your health often leads to the most dynamic results. Consider talking to your doctor about lymphatic-targeted massages to manually drain lymph and promote the proper flow of lymphatic fluid. Developing a routine of deep abdominal breathing is also beneficial to your lymphatic system, which is the focus of many meditation practices. Meditation also aids in reducing stress, which wreaks havoc on your body. You might also consider integrating herbal supplements into your diet. Ginger, garlic, cayenne, calendula, wild carrot seed and Gingko biloba have all been shown to increase circulation in the body.
How do you strengthen your lymphatic system? What tips do you have to offer? Tell us in the comments.
***Always consult with a doctor before making significant changes to your diet or exercise routine. ***
Photo by Energetic Spirit/Flickr