Your lymphatic system assists your body to let go of toxins, waste and other harmful materials. The primary job of the lymphatic system is to transport lymph around your body, fluid containing white blood cells that assist you to fight infection. Every day, your lymphatic system is working hard for you to rid your body of waste and help fight off infection-causing foreign bodies. If you're feeling a bit puffy after the holidays, it may be time to give your lymphatic system some love!
Does your lympathic system need some TLC?
Signs you may need to focus on your lymph nodes are:
- Water retention/bloating
- Seeming inability to lose weight
- Struggling digestion
- Brain fog
- Higher incidence of colds and flu
- Feeling like you have cold hands and feet
- Lymph node swelling
Of course, these symptoms could a sign of a different issue - always discuss with your health professional.
Top tips for healthy lymph nodes:
1. Keep up your water intake
Drink more water to get rid of water? Seems counterintuitive, but dehydration can be a culprit behind sluggish lymph nodes. Drink at least 2 litres of water every day, more if you're active - you may need 3-4 litres! When you think of the words 'detox' and 'cleanse' - think of pure h2O to help your body's natural processes get rid of the nasties - plus it costs nothing! Kick those fizzy drinks and mega-coffees to the curb and get some more water into you - not only will you help your lymphatic system, you'll feel greater energy too!
2. Decrease your chemical exposure where possible
Though you can't avoid all environmental toxins, if you're struggling with sluggish lymph nodes, it can be helpful to give them a break where possible. Whether it's through the highly processed foods, polluted air, pharmaceuticals, pesticides and dubious ingredients in your skincare, your body can feel the burden over time.
Go 'greener': choose organic where possible, consume less artificial ingredients, choose 'clean' beauty products and spend more time in nature. The less junk you put in your body, the less it has to deal with!
3. Prioritise a healthy gut
A healthy gut is deeply linked to a healthy immune system. When your gut is suffering, you feel it in your whole body, inlcuding the lymph nodes. To support your digestion and lymphatic system, enjoy a varied, whole foods diet.
Foods to prioritise: Leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, berries, omega-3 fats, citrus fruits, seeds, nuts, seaweed, ginger, garlic, turmeric
4. Try a lympathic drainage massage
A popular wellness self-care treat, a lymphatic drainage massage is also used in the medical field where patients are experience lymphedema (medical swelling).
A lymphatic system massage is not the same as a relaxation massage, so don't expect to feel zen in the process (though you may afterwards!).
If you're experiencing swelling, it may be slightly painful. This kind of massage involves long, rhythmic strokes to increase lymph flow and help your body expel toxins. The key is gentle upward strokes towards the heart, guiding the fluid towards the lymph nodes for easy elimination. You can learn how to do lymphatic drainage massage yourself, but it is wise to find a qualified practitioner. Always make sure to drink plenty of water afterwards!
5. Make body brushing part of your routine
Body brushing will help you feel energised for your day and be a gentle way to get your lymphatic system a wake up. Plus, it'll only take you a few minutes! Using a natural bristle brush before showing, you can help push fluid through your system.
Start at the feet, and with medium pressure and long strokes using your brush, you want to work on each limb, guiding the fluid towards the heart. On your stomach, you can use circular motions or long strokes, whatever you prefer. Making this part of a regular routine is key!
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