When you hear about detox, you always hear about certain foods to eat or not eat, drink lots of water, special detox teas, and of course, to exercise and get your sweat on. And while this is all true, and good advice to help in ridding your body of toxins, there is another component, which involves a body system not very often talked about.
Introducing the lymphatic system, the internal garbage clean up of your body, and a huge part of your immune system, this system acts to move toxins and debris from your organs and tissues to the edges of cells, where they will be picked up and eliminated. Similar to the circulatory system, functioning throughout your whole body, this system is not a closed system, and there is no pump to move your lymphatic fluid through your body to be eliminated. Instead it relies on skeletal muscle movement to help move the lymph towards the heart where it can be sent out via the lymph nodes, thymus and spleen. While the system functions incredibly well, like all other systems in our body, there is lots we can do to help it out and to improve the efficiency with which we are able to move the toxins both in terms of quantity and speed.
How to help improve the lymphatic system:
- Dry skin brushing – Get a soft brush, and use it to brush in gentle circular motions all over your body. You shouldn’t be scratching or have it be uncomfortable in any way, but the motion will help bring your lymph fluid to the surface.
- Hot/cold showers – It sounds unappealing to have part of your shower on cold, but I assure you it’s not as bad as it sounds – and this is coming from a girl who usually has the hot as hot as it will go! Once you have been in the shower for 5-7 minutes in the hot, turn the shower to cold for 20-30 seconds, and then back to hot for 1-2 minutes. Repeat this 2-4 times, ending on cold. As an added bonus (or if you can hack it), cold water is really good for your hair and scalp, so make sure to get your hair wet under the cold shower too!
- Manual circulation – The lymph fluid needs to be sent towards the heart, where all the essential lymph nodes are to help eliminate it properly. Since this means it is typically working against gravity, you can help this process by manually encouraging the flow of lymph: with your arms above your head, use one hand, in a closed fist position, to gently and slowly tap on the inside of your forearm, and then all the way down the arm into your should, over your chest and towards the heart. Repeat on the other arm, then start at your feet and repeat the process on each leg, going all the way up to your heart. You can do this all over your body, in any order you like, as long as you are always going toward the heart.
- Deep breathing – Although the circulatory system doesn’t directly move lymph, nor does the lymph system have its own pump, breathing plays a big role in both. Breathing acts as a means of moving the fluid, but it also ensures the cells receive the oxygen they need to function properly and in turn eliminate the waste and cellular debris.
- Exercise – Like deep breathing, It is also the movement of skeletal muscles which helps draw the lymph fluid out of your tissues and to where it can be eliminated. It makes sense then, that exercise, and regular bouts of muscle movement, help make this happen more efficiently.
- Eat healthy fats – Fats help lubricate and allow fluids to pass through vessels and capillaries, and allow smooth movement of lymph. Consider things like avocados, coconut oil, Hemp oil and flax oil.
Make looking after your lymphatic system a regular part of your health routine, and you will start to see lots of benefits and improvements in your health. Check out these other posts on helping you reach your best, healthiest self:
- On Wellness: 6 Tips for a Better Breakfast
- Let’s Talk About Superfood Powders
- Juice Cleanse
- Keeping Your Health on Track