Foods That Help Boost The Lymphatic System
The lymphatic system is part of the immune system and works to keep you safe from chronic disease. For immunity, the system aids in transporting white blood cells and antigen-presenting cells to areas they need to be in to fight off infection. The system is made up of nodes, vessels, and organs such as the spleen and the tonsils.
The lymphatic system also protects you from infections and chronic diseases, and helps to keep fluids in the body balanced. Fluid is abundant in the human body, and the lymphatic system filters it if it builds up in the bloodstream. By doing so, fluid levels remain in check, and any waste in the blood can be cleared out.
If a person has cancer, an infection, or scar tissue, it could block lymph nodes from being able to take up excess fluid, leading to a build-up. When waste fluid isn’t excreted from the body when it should be, it can lead to a condition known as lymphedema, which causes swelling and pain.
Making sure the lymphatic system works as it should is essential for overall health and avoiding any build-up of fluid in the body. But how can you improve your lymphatic health, and what should you eat to ensure everything works effectively? Read on for a list of foods that help boost the lymphatic system.
How to improve lymphatic system function
There are several ways you can tell if your lymphatic system is blocked and not operating correctly. Chronic diseases can often develop as a sign that you need to cleanse your lymph system. Some health disorders that could alert you to the need for a cleanse include:
- Skin changes or discoloration
- Fluid leaking from the skin
- Ear pain
- Nasal congestion
- Difficulties with breathing, swallowing or talking
- Excessive drooling
- Swelling in the arms, legs, fingers, or toes
- Limited range of motion
- Dull ache where the swelling is
If you experience these symptoms, collectively known as lymphatic dysfunction, there are several options you can explore to improve it. These include:
- Wearing compression garments to help reduce swelling
- Exercise to help move the fluid through the vessels
- Lymphatic draining massage (ensure this is done by a licensed massager, who can manipulate the tissues around the lymph system to encourage better drainage)
Contact your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms above and suspect it might be lymphatic dysfunction. If you don’t have any symptoms but feel your system may not be at its best, you can try adjusting your diet to cleanse the lymph system.
What foods cleanse the lymph system?
Diet isn’t used as a treatment for lymphatic issues. However, if you eat the right things, you may be able to better support the system on your own before dysfunction occurs. The diet you eat should focus more heavily on vitamins and nutrients rather than specific foods. With this in mind, the nutrients to focus on in order to help with lymphatic health include:
Protein is an essential nutrient used by various parts of the body, including the immune system. Cells in the immune system rely on proteins to perform as they should. When immune cells are in good shape, they can better fight off pathogens in a way that helps keep the lymphatic system healthy and clear of build-up.
Choosing the best protein source depends on your lifestyle, preferences, and diet allowances, but some lean proteins to try focusing on include:
- Chicken breast
- Black beans
- Cottage cheese
- Almonds and nut butter
When a person has enough vitamin C, their ability to fight off infections is heightened. This means there is less strain on the lymphatic system and it can continue to do its part to protect the body from fluid and waste build-up.
Good sources of vitamin C include:
- Bell peppers
- Brussels sprouts
Adults should ensure they get enough vitamin C daily.
Cells known as lymphocytes work with the lymphatic system to fight off infections that could hinder the lymph’s ability to do its job. When you don’t have enough vitamin B6 in your body, it can lead to a flawed system that can’t drain fluid properly.
To ensure that doesn’t happen, you can eat foods that are rich in this essential nutrient, such as:
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes
While it’s possible to get enough vitamin B6 through supplementation, it’s often advised to focus on food because too much of the nutrient in supplement form can cause adverse effects.
Zinc is a trace mineral the immune system uses to create new infection-fighting cells. When a person doesn’t have enough zinc in their diet, it can hinder the function of the immune system and, thus, the lymphatic system’s ability to perform.
To get more zinc into your diet, reach for foods such as:
- Black-eyed peas
Foods to avoid if you want to keep up with your lymphatic health
While there are foods you want to incorporate to help with lymph drainage, there are some foods you’ll want to avoid because they hinder the process. While you don’t have to eliminate the following foods, reducing or limiting your intake is important:
- Processed foods
- Foods with added sugars, such as baked goods, condiments, and breakfast cereals
- Processed meats like sausages, hot dogs, and bacon
- Red meat such as beef, veal, pork, and lamb
- Caffeinated beverages
Eating too many of the foods mentioned above will negatively affect the lymphatic system, the immune system, and the body as a whole. So try to pack your diet with foods that will help your lymphatic system flourish instead!