How to improve Lymphatic System function

Lymphatic system works constantly to keep your system clean and healthy.

The nutritional and lifestyle guidelines mentioned hereunder will go a long way toward keeping your lymph system clear and unimpeded.


1. Check your weight. Obesity can cause pathological changes in the lymphatic system. Experimental studies in animal models have shown that obesity results in progressive lymphatic dysfunction that result in edema, lymphatic vessel leakage, and impaired immune cell trafficking.

A study in PLoS one, 2013 has suggested that diet induced obesity has negative effects on lymph transport and lymph node architecture.


2. Avoid Acrylamide. Acrylamide is considered a probable human carcinogen by international agency for research on cancer in 1994. Presence of acrylamide has been detected in several food items like starchy fried food such as French fries, potato chips and roasted barley tea.

Cigarette smoking causes a threefold increase in blood acrylamide level than any other dietary factor.

A 2012 study in PLos one was the first epidemiological study published that investigated the associations between dietary acrylamide intake and the risk of several types of lymphatic tumors.


3. Avoid processed foods. Try to eliminate processed foods containing simple sugars or fructose, or foods containing artificial flavors from your diet.

As these foods contains large amount of high fructose corn syrup (a type of added sugar), which can overload liver with function impeding toxins.

The fewer toxins your lymphatic system has to filter, the more easily in will flow in your body


Also Read: Know your Lymphatic System


4. Reduce intake of red meat, shellfish and hydrogenated fats. Both red meat and shellfish are difficult to digest and can easily hamper your lymph flow, as per natural health practitioners.

A 2014 study has revealed an association between consumption of red meat and lymphatic cancer. The potential reason behind red meat’s cancer-causing effects is the excess amounts of a sugar called Neu5Gc.

Scientists discovered the presence of Neu5Gc in different types of food such as beef, pork, lamb, and bison.

While red meat may trigger the harmful immune reaction leading to cancer, scientists maintain that red meat—in moderate amounts (about 2.5 ounces/day)—is a good source of nutrition.

If you do want to consume animal based protein, go for organic meats. Hydrogenated fats can get oxidized easily and can lead to clogging of the lymphatic system.


5. Foods To Cleanse Your Lymph System. A healthy and balanced diet produces fewer toxins in your body and reduces the chances of a clogged lymphatic flow.

Foods to consume

  • Fruits, especially cranberries has been seen to augment lymphatic flow
  • Vegetables, especially green leafy veggies (because of their chlorophyll content) can help lymphatic system, bowels and kidneys to get rid of harmful toxins
  • Flaxseed Oil
  • Spirulina
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Flax or chia seeds
  • Avocados

These food items are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and other beneficial phytonutrients, which assist lymphatic flow. Add organic fruits, vegetables, and fresh juices to your diet as they contain powerful enzymes that can cleanse lymph.

Foods to Avoid

  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Added Sugar
  • Meat
  • Preservatives
  • Refined grains
  • Highly Processed foods


6. Hydrate Well. Your body needs pure, filtered water to allow your lymph fluid to drain and flush out any toxins. Inadequate hydration hampers the filtering process of lymphatic system as the lymphatic system is primarily composed of water.

Inadequate hydration can cause water retention and thickening of fatty tissues, called cellulite.

According to The Institute of Medicine, daily intake of water for men should be 13 cups (or 3 liters) and for women it should be 9 cups (or 2. Liters)


7. Try Herbs. Many herbs have proven to be effective in improving health of lymphatic system, whether in their ability to increase lymphatic flow or in expediting the clearance and drainage of toxic substances.

  • Red clover a popular herb helps to detoxify lymphatic flow and reduces inflammation.
  • Cleavers, Also known as clivers or goose grass, has been used for centuries for its properties to stimulate and drain lymph system.
  • Manjistha is primarily utilized for its ability to de-stagnate lymph flow.
  • Bupleurum and rehmannia are herbal tonics used in traditional Chinese medicine and are known to treat various lymph related ailments.
  • Essential Oils. The Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine Editorial Board reports that essential oils stimulate lymphatic flow through neuro-immuno-modulation.
  • Milk Thistle: Milk thistle is a potent anti-inflammatory and detoxification agent known to cleanse the gastrointestinal tract, lymph, liver, and kidneys, and to promote a healthy thyroid.


8. Get tested for any allergies or dietary issues. Be sure to get tested for any food allergies or sensitivities and avoid ALL allergens – even those that cause the mildest reactions.

Some individuals can tolerate small amounts of gluten, if consumed in moderation. But, in cases where the lymphatic function is compromised, it may be best to avoid these foods all together to prevent blockage in your lymph flow.

Remember, your body may consider that particular food you are allergic to as a foreign invader – and even a small portion – sets the immune response and inflammation into action and in turn, stresses your lymphatic system.


9. Be cautious of Deodorants. There are some legitimate reasons for not using commercially available deodorants.

Firstly most of them have hormone-disrupting chemical fragrances, which can absorb into the skin and disrupt the endocrine system.

Secondly most deodorants contain propylene glycol –a carcinogen (cancer causing agent) that can block the skin pores.

But antiperspirant is even worse than fragrances and propylene glycol. This is because of its aluminum content.

In 2010, Researchers from the Department of Medicine at the University of California published a study, which showed a link between aluminum salts and neurotoxicity and Alzheimer’s disease.

Natural health practitioners believe that all of the above mentioned chemicals can clog up your lymphatic system. Instead, you should buy natural, organic and ayurvedic beauty products with limited to no chemical by products.


10. Stick to a regular Exercise routine. Unlike our circulatory system which uses the heart as a pump for circulating blood, our lymphatic system must rely on some intrinsic and extrinsic factors for lymph transportation.

Intrinsic mechanisms involve involuntary contraction of the smooth muscles that line the lymphatic vessels, extrinsic mechanisms involves muscle movement, pressure gradient created by breathing, and the pulsations of nearby arteries (Lane et al. 2005).

During steady-state exercise, lymph flow has been shown to increase to levels approximately 2- to 3-fold higher than at rest.

Walking, running, swimming, dancing with lots of up and down movements or rebounding are all great activities for enhancing lymph flow.

Try to perform 150 minutes total of moderate exercise in a week, i.e. about 30 minutes to one hour of exercise per day.


11. Manual Lymphatic Drainage. Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is a specialized massage technique designed to decrease the sequestration and enhance transport of lymph. Specific stroke duration, orientation, pressure, and sequence characterize MLD.
From a physiologic perspective, MLD stimulates the intrinsic contractility of the lymphatic vessels.

MLD reduces the protein concentration within the congested lymph nodes through massage techniques, such as stroking, percussion, or compression.

The massage is very light and superficial, limited to finger/ hand pressures of, ideally, approximately 30 to 45 mm hg.


12. Pneumatic Compression. The usage of intermittent pneumatic pumps has been the mainstay of lymphedema (Edema caused by impaired lymph flow) therapy. A variety of pumps are available.
Pumps may have single chamber or several compartments. Multiple-chamber pumps generally inflate from distal to proximal part of the limb, thereby produc­ing a wave of pressure, which helps to move edema fluid with it.

This allows the retained fluid to be brought to the proximal lymph vessels that might aid in its removal.


13. Dry skin brushing. Dry skin brushing stimulates the connective tissues surrounding lymph capillaries just under the skin, which can boost lymph flow.
Take a dry brush with coarse bristles and brush the skin in long strokes towards the heart. This stimulates sweat glands, opens pores and gets rid of toxins through skin.

It also encourages movement of blood in underlying organs and tissues, which helps to clear built-up toxins.


14. Practise Yoga/Yoga Asana. Yoga works in a number of ways to stimulate the flow of the lymph, relieving congestion and encouraging its detoxification.
Inversion postures such as handstands, headstands and shoulder stands, or just placing the legs up the wall, helps to drain the lymph towards the heart and enhancing the rate in which it’s cleaned and filtered.

Twisting postures such as “Twisting Chair” and “Seated Twist” help in removing out of toxins from the body. While practicing twisting postures of the abdomen, the organs and muscles are squeezed, forcing the lymph to flow towards heart.

Also, the natural dynamic flow through the yoga poses cause the muscles of the body to contract and relax, which escalates the rate at which lymph flows.


15. Breathing exercises. Breathing exercises can help to improve your overall health, including health of your lymphatic system.

During inspiration, the pressure in your chest decreases and the pressure in your abdomen increase. This pressure gradient can pump lymphatic fluid upwards from your legs and suck lymph from your arms and head to get drained in the venous system.

Your lymphatic vessels have one way valves, so lymph once drained in venous blood cannot go in reverse.


16. Avoid tight fitting garments. Avoid tight-fitting clothes and tight underwire bras as it can impede normal lymphatic flow. One of the largest groups of lymph nodes is located in the armpit and upper chest area, and these nodes drain the lymph from the breast, arm, and upper chest.
Some evidence suggests that over a period of time tight fitting bras can cause long-term impairment of the lymphatic function, and may contribute fibrocystic breast tissue, infected and swollen lymph nodes and even breast cancer.


Internal Links

1] Know your Lymphatic System
2] How to improve Lymphatic System function

Aashish Nanda

I am not a Spiritual Guru. I am not a Healer. I am not a Coach. I am not a Transformer. After trying to define myself, with various labels, I realized that I am simply a Muser... I just pen down what appeals to me. Please consult a professional guide, in case you need any advice.

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