28 Feb Five Keys to Boost your Body’s Drainage System and Empower your Immune System
The most critical component of the immune system is the lymphatic system—it's vital for protecting us from illness and disease-causing inflammation. Basically, the lymphatic system is an inner “drainage system” of the body. It's a crisscrossing network of lymph nodes and blood vessels that transport fluids from the blood and into tissues around the body and vice versa.
While the primary role of the lymphatic system(1) is to protect the body against threats—such as infections and cancer cells—it also keeps fluid levels in balance.
Oftentimes, people overlook the fact that obesity(2) or being overweight can have a significant impact on lymphatic drainage.
How to Improve Your Lymphatic System
By ignoring the health of your lymphatic system you may cause your immune system to suffer, and you're more prone to common illnesses, weight gain, and even long-term health issues.
Here are five ways to improve your lymphatic system, and moreover, support your immune system:
Exercise is not just for weight loss and preventing heart disease. Your lymphatic system works best when you move your body—this circulates fluids and nutrients to your tissues and cells. There's a reason why prolonged sitting and lack of movement causes you to feel stiff and become prone to becoming sick.
Simply walking more and dancing around your home is good for keeping you lymph flowing. Some exercises, such as yoga, are particularly beneficial because it twists the body and helps drain the lymph.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts and rebounding exercises are also excellent for improving circulation and keeping the lymphatic system running smoothly. An example of rebounding is jumping on a small trampoline for about 10 minutes a day.
Follow an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Your lymphatic system works best with a nutrient-dense diet and the least amount of toxic chemicals entering your body. Some foods can place more stress on the digestive, cardiovascular, and immune systems. These include allergens or food sensitivities (like dairy, gluten, soy, and nightshades), low-quality animal products, processed foods, and refined vegetable oils.
On the other hand, anti-inflammatory foods(3) provide much-needed nutrients and antioxidants while also lowering oxidation stress, or free radical damage, that reduces immunity and ages the body.
High-antioxidant foods to focus on consist of:
- Green leafy vegetables
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, etc.)
- Nuts, seeds, and Omega-3 foods (chia, flax, hemp, pumpkin, etc.)
- Unrefined oils (extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil)
- Herbs and spices (turmeric, ginger, garlic, for example)
Massage Therapy and Foam Rolling
Massage therapy and foam rolling are both commonly used for preventing and relieving pain and fluid buildup within the tissue.
Lymphatic massage(4) is a specialized type of massage therapy that helps drain lymph thereby reducing swelling and the helping flush toxins from the body. Studies also show that lymphatic massage is beneficial for decreasing pain and pressure thresholds.
Some massage therapists and bodyworkers are specially trained in lymphatic drainage, although, deep tissue massage is also helpful. You can even massage yourself to ease the pain in swollen lymph nodes, joints, or muscles.
Self-myofascial release, or foam rolling, is a type of self-massage that you can do yourself before or after exercising. Its purpose is to help break up tissue and muscle adhesions that induce tightness and injuries, which aids in tissue repair. A foam roller can be used to increase blood flow to your muscles and joints if you're looking for a quicker recovery and better performance.
Infrared Sauna Treatment
People do not like to get hot. Sedentary lifestyles and massive indoor climate control systems in gyms speak to this fact. There are some exceptions, Bikram yoga for example, but they’re few and far between.
Here's the surprise: increasing your core temperature(5) is not only healthful, but it can also improve performance and dramatically support your lymphatic system.
Here are just a few adaptions your body makes after acclimation of heat:
- Improved circulation and decreased heart rate
- Lowered core body temperature during workload
- Increased blood flow and oxygen transport to tissues and skeletal muscle
- Increased thermoregulatory control, which results in higher sweat rate and sweat sensitivity
Research shows that a 30-minute sauna session two times a week for three weeks after a workout increased the time participants could run by 32 percent (6) compared to baseline.
Infrared sauna treatments—with regular use—can improve the quality of life(7) for people living with chronic fatigue, depression, chronic pain, and congestive heart failure.
Use Supplements that Improve Your Lymphatic System
Certain supplements may be beneficial for improving blood flow and reducing swelling in lymph nodes. Turmeric and omega-3 fish oils are beneficial for lowering inflammation and improving blood flow.
Supplements that can further assist lymphatic drainage and detoxification via your digestive system include digestive enzymes, activated charcoal, and milk thistle (silymarin).
In My Practice
In our weight management programs, the role of the lymphatic system is precisely targeted with nutrition, supplements, exercise and massage therapies. Specifically, with our green light laser obesity therapy, Formnovélle, the lymphatic system is targeted, as it is the primary way that fat cells are released.
It is the lymphatic system that takes that energy to where the body needs it for energy or excretes it through an array of mechanisms out of the body. In a nutshell, if the drainage system of the body is stagnated, all the impurities of the body are not able to be released, which creates inflammation and disease, and making it difficult to release the excess weight. So it is imperative that our lymphatic system work efficiently, providing us the ability to release all impurities, and mobilize stored fat, while optimizing our immune system and keeping us healthy, alert, and energized.
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