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11 Worst Foods for Lymphatic System & What to Eat Instead

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Lymphatic drainage has been all over social media lately, but does your diet play a role in retaining excess fluid in the body? Turns out it does! Below are the 11 worst foods for the lymphatic system, and the best foods to eat instead!

collage of 6 different types of foods - text overlay says the worst foods for your lymphatic system and what to eat instead

If you’re hoping to improve your lymph node processes, make sure you stay away from the worst foods for lymphatic system and choose healthier options instead.

What does the Lymphatic System do?

Made up of vessels, nodes, and organs, the lymphatic system helps collect and filter excess fluid from your body. It also helps the body fight germs, viruses, and fungi by creating white blood cells that make antibodies. (source)

Is there a lymphatic diet?

While here is no designated diet that can help this vital system work properly, there are a handful of foods that promote the movement of lymph fluid and others that may hinder it.

variety of breakfast cereals in different bowls

11 Worst Foods for Lymphatic System

When you’re searching for meals that hep improve your body’s processes, there are always a handful of ingredients to keep off the menu.

And when it comes to the lymphatic system, it’s especially important to adjust your diet to keep everything running smoothly.

To avoid slowing down your lymphatic slow and holding onto toxins in your body, stay away from these 11 types of foods.

1. Sugar

Many people struggle with a sweet tooth, which means it can be difficult to stay away from sugary snacks. But if you want your lymphatic system to be working at its best, avoiding sugar is essential.

Foods high in sugar, like candy, baked goods, and soda, can cause your glucose levels to rise, which could cause your lymphatic system to work on overdrive.

Breakfast cereals and yogurts can also pack a surprising amount of added sugar, too!

variety of salty foods in small bowls

2. Salt

Like sugar, salt can also cause issues when it’s enjoyed in large amounts.

High-sodium foods, like chips and canned foods, can cause water retention, which often strains the lymphatic system.

Watching your salt intake can also help a variety of health conditions including reducing high blood pressure and weight loss.

3. Processed Foods

While processed and packaged foods can be a convenient way to cut down on your prep work in the kitchen, they’re typically not the healthiest options to choose.

That’s because most packaged foods and fast food options are filled with excess sodium, sugar, and preservatives. 

4. Trans Fats

From sweet treats like cookies to salty snacks like French fries, trans fats can be found in a variety of foods.

But when you eat foods with trans fats, you raise the bad cholesterol levels in your body, which could cause damage to your lymphatic vessels over time. 

ham sandwich on white bread and chips

5. Processed Meats

Just like pre-packed foods, process meats can cause many health issues – especially when it comes to your lymphatic flow.

Processed meats like hot dogs, bacon, deli meats, etc. are filled with sodium, fats, and nitrates. These things have been linked to  cause inflammation and push your lymphatic system into high alert. Many processed meats also have a high salt content.

chicken tenders with fries

6. Fried Foods

Foods cooked in unhealthy oils are often filled with trans and saturated fats. And since these types of fats cause increased inflammation in your body, which will easily overload your lymphatic system.

The more fried foods you eat, the more likely your body will start hold onto the unhealthy fats, clogging up your lymphatic vessels even further.

7. Dairy Products

Although dairy is known for being high in calcium and protein, it’s not always the best option for your lymphatic system.

Dairy products that are also high in fat and sugar can cause inflammation within your system – especially if your body is already sensitive to dairy and lactose.

8. Red Meat

Processed meats aren’t the only type of meat to avoid when working to improve your lymphatic flow. Red meat is another ingredient that works against this vital process in your body.

Since red meat is high in saturated fat, it can easily contribute to congestion in the lymphatic system, slowing down its processes.

What is Winc Wine Club

9. Alcohol

Food isn’t the only thing to watch when it comes to improving your diet for a healthy lifestyle. It’s also a good idea to adjust your drinking routine.

Staying away from alcohol is a good choice because alcoholic beverages can slow down your lymphatic function and overload your liver with toxins.

10. Caffeine

In addition to alcohol, cutting out caffeinated beverages from your diet will also help improve your lymphatic processes.

That’s because caffeine acts as a diuretic, which means it flushes essential fluid from your body and causes you to become dehydrated more quickly.

Caffeine can also increase stress hormone levels, which negatively affects your lymphatic system.

11. Artificial Sweeteners

Although drinking diet sodas or eating sugar free snacks might seem like a healthy choice, those foods are typically made with artificial sweeteners.

Since your body doesn’t process artificial sweeteners in the same way as sugar, they can cause imbalances in your digestive system.

leafy green salad with strawberries

Foods That Promote Lymph Flow

Avoiding foods that may negatively impact your lymphatic flow is a great way to help your body stay healthy and properly functioning.

You can also take your healthy diet a step further by incorporating foods that promote your lymph flow.

Try working these ingredients into your diet to maximize the processes of your lymphatic system.

1. Leafy greens

Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens are great for your lymph flow because they’re filled with vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene, all of which are powerful antioxidants.

2. Ginger

Used as a natural diuretic, ginger can help stimulate fluid reduction and reduce swelling in the body.

Kodiak Pancakes with fresh berries

3. Berries

Blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are known for aiding in digestion and eliminating toxins. They are all rich in fiber and antioxidants which also help fight free radicals.

4. Citrus fruits

Packed with vitamin C and flavonoids, fresh fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and lemons can help flush toxins from your body and keep your system running smoothly.

5. Garlic

The sulfur compounds found in garlic help your body flush out toxins and waste, promoting lymphatic drainage.

bowl of turmeric

6. Turmeric

With powerful anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric can help reduce stress in the body and promote a healthy lymphatic flow.

We take Codeage’s Curcumin Turmeric supplement every day to help us maintain a healthy lymphatic system, reduce inflammation, and help our immune function.

7. Water

Staying hydrated is essential for a healthy lymphatic flow, which means water is crucial for helping flush out toxins, waste, and excess fluid from your body.

Kalee jumping on a rebounder in her office

Other Ways to Improve Your Lymphatic Health

There are a few other ways to support your lymph system.

Getting a lymphatic massage by a licensed professional, dry brushing, and wearing loose clothing can help.

We also like using a rebounder at home, but any regular exercise can also help your general health. So it may be worth asking your doctor if it could also help you lymphatic system’s health. 

Herbal teas like green tea, peppermint, dandelion root tea, or nettle tea also may have some benefits to the lymphatic system.

With that said, all of these ideas are just small things that could possibly boost the lymphatic system functions, but you should always talk to your medical professional when starting anything.

He or she may also be able to offer other effective treatments to do along with a healthy balanced diet.

What is Lymphoedema?

Lymphoedema is a chronic condition that causes swelling in the body. While it can affect any tissue in the body, typically you see swelling in the arms, legs, or  face (source).

Other symptoms of Lymphoedema is aching, difficulty moving, chronic skin infections or conditions (source).

What causes lymphoedema?

If you’re face is a little puffy, it doesn’t mean you have Lymphoedema. There are 2 main types of Lymphoedema. One is called by faulty genes and secondary Lymphoedema is called by damage, like a radiation treatment targeted to destroy cancer cells or injury, to the lymphatic system. 

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This post is just for informational purposes and is not medical or professional advice. You should always consult a medical professional before starting a new diet.

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