The idea of cleansing my body has always intrigued me, so I’ve experimented with it on several occasions. In the past, some friends have even donned me “The Cleansing Queen.” Even though I’ve tried quite a few of varieties of cleanses now, I find there’s still more to discover.
What Is a Cleanse?
There are many different types of cleanses out there. Some examples include: all-fruit cleanses, all-vegetable cleanses, and all-liquid cleanses to name a few.
Perhaps you’ve cleansed by eliminating certain things from your diet like gluten, dairy or red meat.
Most cleanses are safe but unfortunately some can be dangerous. Always do your research and speak with your physician before starting a cleansing regimen.
There are even ways to cleanse certain body systems. I recently heard about lymphatic cleanses. Since this was new to me, I immediately wanted to know more.
I couldn’t quite remember what the lymphatic system was so in order to brush up on my knowledge I went straight to my faithful friend – Google. I was reminded that our lymphatic system works to filter and remove waste.
Cleaning out your lymphatic system sounds like a good idea, but what did I know? I didn’t even know how to do a lymphatic cleanse. I set out to discover the facts.
Now that I’ve done the research, tried it out and now I can share my research with you.
Systems of the Human Body
There are 11 major systems involved in basic human bodily function. We need these to keep alive and kicking.
You likely remember some of these systems from your grade school days. The respiratory, circulatory and nervous systems are a few that come to mind first.
However there are several other systems within the body, all integral to optimal health, life and function. One of the most overlooked systems tends to be the lymphatic system.
What is the Lymphatic System?
The lymphatic system is comprised of your lymph nodes, spleen, thymus and the system of vessels that carry protective fluids throughout your body, guarding it from disease.
Simply put, the lymphatic system is a drainage system for the fluid and waste in our bodies. Its job is to filter and discard any bad stuff that gets into or is produced by our bodies.
Here is some explanation of what the lymphatic system does:
The lymphatic system also plays a role in immunity. It contains white blood cells and helps protect from viruses, bacteria, fungi and cellular debris that could cause damage to your body.
The lymphatic system also interacts with your digestive system to help deliver fats to the circulatory system.
The bad news is the lymphatic system can become sluggish, and therefore less protective, if you treat your body poorly. There are numerous lifestyle and environmental factors that can directly affect your lymphatic system and its efficiency.
Things like poor diet, pollutants, lack of exercise or even having suffered through a prolonged illness, can put stress on your lymphatic system. Luckily there are many things you can do right now to take care of your lymphatic system.
How to Take Care of Your Lymphatic System
As I’m sure you understand, the lymphatic system is integral to survival. If our bodies can’t fight off disease or get rid of waste then we are going to be in a life-threatening situation pretty quickly.
Your lymphatic system has the same needs the rest of your body does. You need to exercise, eat the right foods, hydrate efficiently and eliminate toxins from your lifestyle and environment. When your body is in good operating order, your lymphatic system is too.
There are several areas you can focus on in order to provide optimal health and efficiency to your lymphatic system.
- Healthy diet and elimination of environmental toxins
- Massage therapy & cleansing
How to Clean Up Your Diet and Environment
1. Avoid Processed Foods
Avoiding processed food should always be step one when it comes to cleaning up your diet. While it’s often a no-brainer, I know first-hand how hard it can be to completely avoid the processed items out there.
Advertising companies go to great lengths to make you think that something in a box can provide your complete nutritional needs. Sure there may be a very small amount of vitamins or minerals in a packaged item, but it’s nothing compared to the nutrition you’ll get in fresh, wholefoods.
If you can avoid the box and pick fresh, your body will be getting much more high-quality nutrition which means you lymphatic system will be getting those benefits too!
2. Go Organic
You already know that fruits and vegetables puts you on the highway to success when it comes to healthy eating. Take that dedication one step further and choose organic fruits and vegetables the next time you are at the store.
According to The Organic Center, organic food is grown in a way that minimizes toxins, decreases your exposure to hormones and antibiotics and enhances the nutritional quality of your food.
So, long story short, the fewer toxins you put into your body, the fewer toxins your lymphatic system has to clean out.
3. Eliminate Dairy, Red Meat, White Flour and Shellfish
A diet heavy in dairy, red meat, white flour and shellfish can be rough on your lymphatic system.
Dairy, red meat and shellfish are actually difficult to digest, which can slow your lymphatic processes greatly. If you are a diehard meat-eater, choose organic meat to lessen the amount of toxins in this already difficult to digest food.
You can also considering opting for wheat flour instead of white flour as wheat flour has more vitamins and nutrients available.
Dairy and white flour can form mucus in your body which can congest your lymphatic system. Eliminating those foods keeps your body clear of blockages.
4. Eat Nuts, Beans, Seeds and Legumes
Foods like nuts, beans, and seeds provide essential vitamins and minerals to your lymphatic system (source). When snacking, opt for a mixture of walnuts and almonds or throw some chia seeds into your next fruit smoothie.
Adding these foods to your diet provides specific immune-boosting nutrients to your body – strengthening your lymphatic system.
Here are the basics:
Vitamin A works within your gut to fight off germs or viruses trying to enter the body.
Vitamin C is well-known as an immunity-booster. Getting plenty of vitamin C in your system is a surefire way to assist the lymphatic system in doing its job well. Vitamin B and zinccan also give your immune system a boost.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant. Getting your recommended daily value can help prevent harmful chemical reactions within your arteries and lymphatic system.
5. Drink Tons of Water
Again, a no-brainer but still something that is hard for most people to manage. Proper hydration keeps every system in your body working properly.
USGS states that approximately 60% of your body is made of water and large percentages of each organ, even your bones, are comprised of water.
So how do you keep things made of water happy? You keep watering them!
According to Greatist, drinking water helps maintain the “body’s fluid balance, which helps transport nutrients in the body, regulate body temperature, digest food, and more.”
In other words, your lymphatic system needs water in order to function and thrive. So drink up!
6. Get Tested for Dietary Allergies
The success of your lymphatic system depends greatly on digestion. If you are not digesting foods properly, then the lymphatic system can’t do its job.
While some food allergies can be obvious, a lot of us go through life never even knowing we have an allergy or intolerance. Reactions to certain foods can go unnoticed or just seem normal to you if you’ve never connected the dots before.
For this reason, you should consider getting an allergy test at your physician’s office. A health care professional can tell if you have an adverse reactions to certain foods. Eliminating those foods from your diet can really help your lymphatic system function more smoothly.
I often suggest that people try an elimination diet if they don’t want to go through an actual test at their physician’s office.
7. Use All-Natural Beauty Products
Most beauty products are chock full of crazy chemicals. Using these chemically-based lotions, tanners, makeup products and hair products allows those chemicals to seep directly into your skin and blood stream.
In order for your body to avoid becoming overwhelmed with chemicals, avoid any beauty products that are not all-natural. Just as with food, you should read labels and know what you are putting on your face, head and skin.
A major item to look out for when it comes to your lymphatic system is deodorant. According to WikiHow, aluminum-based deodorants block sweating which adds to your toxic load. Make sure to buy all-natural beauty and bathroom products.
When able, you can also make your own beauty products at home. Then you can really rest assured that all your internal and external systems are receiving the best care.
On top of all these diet and product changes, there are also some physical factors which you can implement to keep your lymphatic system running efficiently too.
How to Use Exercise and Massage to Enhance Your Lymphatic System
1. Try Yoga and Meditation
Suggestions for yoga and meditation come up time and time again when it comes to optimizing your well-being. Why? Because it’s been proven that these practices have numerous physical and mental benefits.
The Mayo Clinic states, “Yoga may help reduce stress, lower blood pressure and lower your heart rate.”
During my research on yoga and the lymphatic system I found there are even yoga poses and sequences that help promote lymph drainage and boost your immune system. How cool is that?
And do you want to know the best thing about yoga and meditation? You don’t need any specialized equipment required and anyone can do it. This means you can start taking care of your lymphatic system right this second.
Keep in mind any form of exercise will put you in a good position, so just make sure to get moving at least 3 days per week for 30 minutes to an hour.
2. Try Lymphatic Massage
Believe it or not, there are even lymphatic massages! Since the lymphatic system is a drainage system that moves fluid around, it responds well to the movements of massage.
You can opt for a Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage. These should only be performed by licensed MLD professionals.
According to the Optimum Health Clinic, this type of massage “uses pressure on release points to move toxic debris from all other eliminative organs and the small intestines.”
You can also try a dry brush massage to aid in the removal of dead skin cells. This opens up more space for the removal of toxins from your body.
This method also promotes circulation to your tissues and triggers the drainage of your lymphatic fluid. Like yoga, this is another technique you can do yourself at home!
How to do a Lymphatic Cleanse
There are a couple of more extreme ways to do a lymphatic cleanse. If you are a looking for a full system flush you can try the 3-day juice cleanse below.
It’s not exactly a scientifically proven method but we could all benefit from a break from processed foods for a couple of days and you will certainly feel your system clearing out – not least from increased bowel movements!
Also, after consulting with your physician, you can also attempt an herbal supplementation program.
3-Day Lymphatic Juice Cleanse
For best results from a juice cleanse, you should follow the diet for at least three days to clean out your lymph system.
In order to do this, start with a prep week. During this time you’ll want to steer clear of meat, flour, and sugar. 2 days prior to the cleanse, you should eat only raw fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and sprouts.
- To start your cleanse, choose apple, grape or carrot juice. Aside from that choice, you’ll only be drinking prune juice.
- In the morning, to encourage bowel movement, you’ll drink 1 glass of water and 8 ounces of prune juice mixed with the juice of 1 lemon.
- Throughout the day, alternate glasses of the juice you chose, and water, until you have drank 1 gallon of each. Lemon juice can be added to any of the drinks.
- 1 to 3 times per day you’ll want to mix 1 tablespoon of wheat germ, flaxseed or borage along with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon of kelp and ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
During this process your bowels should be eliminated daily. If you are struggling in this area, feel free to drink additional glasses of prune juice.
It’s also important to keep your lymphatic system pumping during this cleanse by getting in 30 minutes to 1 hour of exercise each day. If this seems tough, take it easy and opt for light exercise.
The rapid change in diet can cause an upset stomach, dizziness and headaches. These symptoms should lessen after the first day or so.
7 to 10-Day Herbal Cleanse
Echinacea, astragalus and goldenseal are said to help lymphatic function. Scientific evidence is limited however they do have a long history of use.
You should only take these supplements for 7 to 10 days to help enhance your lymph system. Taking these herbs for much longer is unnecessary and can cause harm.
In this case, you don’t want too much of a good thing. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist before attempting any herb cleanses.
If you have any health conditions or take a prescription medicine, these herbs may not be safe for you. Also, women who are pregnant or lactating should avoid many herbal teas, etc. in general.
The Last Word
So tell me, are you feeling motivated to do a lymphatic cleanse now? As you can see there a ton of ways you can start right this moment to improve the function of your lymphatic system. These tactics include:
- Cleaning up your diet
- Eliminating toxic chemicals from your beauty regimen and environment
- Booking a lymphatic massage
- Trying a juice or herbal cleanse
So which option will you try? Or will really be ambitious and try them all? Either way, your lymphatic system will thank you. Happy cleansing!