The lymphatic system is a crucial component of the circulatory, immune and metabolic systems. The primary functions of the lymphatic system are to drain excess fluid from the tissues, filter it and return it to the blood, transport dietary fat such as vitamins A, D, E and K from the digestive tract into the blood and carry out immune responses to filter pathogenic bacteria. Put simply, the lymphatic system eliminates waste, kills unwanted bacteria and is a major exit route for inflammatory components.
Some signs of a sluggish lymphatic system include swelling of the arms, legs or fingers, fluid leaking from the skin, hard and tight skin, continuous infections and a restricted range of motion.
Dietary and lifestyle practices have a huge influence on the formation and flow of lymph around the body.
To support your lymphatic system and ensure your lymph is flowing smoothly, make sure you are drinking enough water to stay hydrated, for most people this is 2-3L daily, if you are exercising, using a sauna or in a hot environment, take this into account and increase as needed. Try incorporating some of these foods on a daily basis as well — leafy greens such as kale, spinach, wheatgrass, silverbeet and broccoli contain chlorophyll which has cleansing properties, fresh cranberries, these act as an emulsifier of fat, making for easier transportation through the lymphatic system, garlic is a powerful antimicrobial and citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges and grapefruit aid hydration and contain antioxidants that assist in reducing inflammation.
Lymph moves around the body with the help of the respiratory pump, this is simply the action of breathing in and out, and with skeletal muscle contraction, movement in any form. A daily practice of deep belly breathing will help to stimulate the flow of lymph around the body and is a relaxing way to unwind and spend some time with yourself. As for movement, I encourage you to practice movement in different ways each day, this will support the lymph to move evenly throughout the body.
Some other beautiful ways to support your lymphatic system and get the lymph flowing are through physical touch such as massage and dry body brushing.
To learn more about how you can support detox and lymph drainage, book in a session with the beautiful Alex.
written by: Alexandra King