The Lymphatic System

Written by

Shaz Andrew | Naturopath and Holistic Nutritionist

The lymphatic system is an intricate network of lymphatic vessels, lymph nodes, tissues and organs that traverses the body, transporting lymphatic fluid, white blood cells and fatty acids.

This body system has an important role in our immunity, helping to fight infections and kill off abnormal cells. It also aids detoxification by draining fluids away from our body’s tissues, and removing toxins and metabolic waste products. This ensures our cells are bathing in healthy, nourishing interstitial fluid.

Unlike our circulation, which has the heart pumping and supporting the movement of blood around the body, the lymphatic system is a passive drainage system that relies on the contraction of our muscles and movement of our joints for its flow.

This blog post details 7 natural ways of supporting a healthy lymphatic system.

1. Move your body

Whether the form of movement you practise is walking, running, crossfit or yoga, the contraction of your muscles and movement of your joints helps to create a flow of lymphatic fluid around the body. This supports lymphatic drainage and the removal of toxins from the body. Rebounding on a trampoline is a particularly effective way of moving stagnated lymph as it contracts your muscles, provides gravitational pressure and stimulates the one-way valves of the lymphatic system.

2. Deep diaphragmatic breathing

Slow, deep, belly breathing contracts the diaphragm muscle, which acts as a pump for the lymphatic system, encouraging flow and drainage of lymphatic fluid.

How to:

Inhale slowly over 4-6 counts, hold your inhale breath for a few counts, exhale slowly for as long as feels comfortable for you and repeat.

Sluggish and stagnated lymph can become overburdened with toxins and may lead to fluid retention and swelling, weakened immunity, sinus infections, skin infections, eczema and itchy skin, chronic inflammation, chronic fatigue, swollen glands, respiratory illnesses and many other symptoms.

3. Dry skin brushing

Brushing your skin with a natural fibre brush with medium-soft bristles helps to stimulate the flow and drainage of lymph, as well as unclogging pores and making it easier to sweat out toxins. Have a look at the Hana shop for our beautiful Sisal dry brushes.

4. Sauna bathing

Using infrared saunas mobilises toxins stored deep in our fat cells, sending them to the lymphatic system to aid their elimination. Sauna bathing also helps us eliminate toxins from the body through sweating, taking some of the pressure off the lymphatic system. Book in your next sweat at Hana here.

5. Stay hydrated

Dehydration is one of the main causes of a stagnated lymph. Ensuring you are adequately hydrated is key to the health of your lymphatic system.The appropriate level of hydration for you depends on your activity levels, the climate you live in and the water rich foods in your diet. Generally speaking, drinking between 1.5-2.5 L filtered water is sufficient to keep lymph flowing and also aids your bowel and kidneys to eliminate toxins.

6. Wear loose clothing

Wearing tight clothing restricts the circulation of lymphatic fluid and may lead to blockages that result in toxins building up in your body. It has even been speculated that tight fitting underwire bras are detrimental to breast health as they cause lymphatic restriction, causing the accumulation of fluid and toxins in breast tissue (though this has not been substantiated with evidence).Choose breathable, natural fibres and loose fitting clothing, including your gym wear and underwear.

7. Contrast therapy

Alternating between exposing your body to hot and cold temperatures makes the lymphatic vessels constrict and dilate, providing a pump-like action that aids the flow of lymphatic fluid. You can achieve this by switching between hot and cold when you shower, jumping into an ice-cold lake or ocean after a hot and sweaty workout or booking into our contrast therapy at Hana here.