Jordan Douglas, MS, HHC

We often take our lymphatic system for granted, though it is one you may be feeling this time of year. With seasonal transitions, it is not uncommon to experience signs of sluggish lymph – such as fatigue, congestion, bloating, and dark circles under the eyes. The lymphatic system is part of our immune system and complements our circulatory system. It includes lymphatic vessels, lymph nodes, bone marrow, tonsils, the spleen, and the thymus. The lymphatic system produces and circulates white blood cells that fight infection and keep our immune defenses strong. It also removes cellular waste, supports healthy elimination and helps maintain fluid balance.

Although our lymphatic system helps our circulatory system function efficiently, lymph itself doesn’t circulate. Pressure in the lymphatic system is low, and valves only flow one way. While our normal body movements (conscious and unconscious) help to move the flow of lymph along, there are several things we can do to support the flow and show our lymphatic system some love.

  1. Dry brushing: Dry brushing is the practice of literally brushing your body with a coarse bristled brush while your skin is dry (sounds weird, feels amazing!). It helps to stimulate the flow of lymph, increase circulation, and gently exfoliate the skin. Work from your feet to your heart with gentle pressure and long sweeping strokes. Always brush toward your heart. This practice can be done efficiently in about a minute or two, but feel free to linger if you have the time.
  2. Hydrate: Dehydration leads to lymph congestion, as lymphatic fluid is predominately comprised of water. A general guideline for hydration status is to drink half your body weight in ounces. Starting the day with a glass or two of water helps to rehydrate the body, flush the system, and initiate lymph movement after a night’s sleep.
  3. Move your body: Recall that our lymphatic system doesn’t circulate. While our circulatory system has our heart to pump blood, our lymph system relies on our body movement to move lymph. Integrate movement in throughout the day by getting up often to stretch and walk around. Rebounding – jumping on a trampoline – is another great (and fun!) practice for lymph movement. Dedicated time for daily movement, such as walking, swimming, yoga, and strength training, supports every facet of your health and helps move your lymph as well.
  4. Eat the clean rainbow: Systemic inflammation and sluggish digestion are no friend to the lymphatic system. Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables helps to lower inflammation, support healthy elimination, and reduce toxins. Refined, processed foods are pro-inflammatory and full of chemicals and additives that increase the toxic burden on the body, which leads to oxidative stress and congestion in the lymphatic system. Choose real, whole foods as much as possible to keep your lymph happy.
  5. Breathe well and manage stress: Slow, conscious deep breaths support lymphatic flow by engaging muscular movement of the diaphragm and abdominals. Stress is also a huge contributor to system inflammation in the body, which leads to sluggish lymph as well as impaired sleep and digestion, more rapid internal and external manifestations of aging, and increased risk of countless diseases. For more tips on managing stress and breathing techniques, see this post

Curious to learn more about lymph? Email to schedule your free 30-minute virtual session!

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