You know that feeling, particularly common this season when your neck is swollen and you are starting to get an ache in your throat?
That's your lymphatic system at work.
Granted, it's not the most well-known system in the body, but trust me, if you learn to look after it, it can have a huge impact on your quality of life. Everything from mucous in the morning and itchy skin, to sluggish digestion, headaches and fatigue, can often be traced back to congested lymph.
The lymphatic system runs alongside your blood vessels, but unlike your blood vessels, there's no heart to move the fluid around.
Why does it need to move?
Well, this protein-rich fluid circulates throughout your body, clearing it of infection and waste, which are filtered out by white blood cells at lymph nodes throughout the body. It's the filtration system that keeps your body clean, clear and able to function at it's best.
Here are my top tips for loving your lymphatic system and enjoying a healthier body.
I'm a huge fan of drinking a lot of water, in fact, it's the first thing I say to nearly everyone I speak to regarding any kind of health issue. You should be drinking half your body weight (in lbs) in fl oz each day.
So for example, if you weigh 120lb, you should drink approximately 60 fl oz (or six 10 ounce glasses) throughout the day.
Garlic, ginger and turmeric are all powerful aids to the circulation and many herbs and citrus fruits are cleansing to the body, but the main purpose of eating healthy is to avoid adding unnecessary stress and toxins to the body which need to be removed through the lymphatic system. Like ever filtration system, it can only tolerate so much congestion, so it's best to keep it as clean as possible.
As in the healthy foods section, this is all about limiting exposure to things that tax your body. On Guard cleaning products can help reduce pathogens in your home, whilst replacing many synthetic and chemical laden cleaners in your home.
Replacing your regular skincare with essential oil-based products can also help to limit the number of toxins your body has to deal with, whilst providing powerful antioxidant boosts that help to reduce free radicals.
Managing stress is a really important part of keeping your body healthy for so many reasons. When your body is stressed, it produces a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol reduces lymphatic drainage. Take a look at some of my stress-busting strategies, or invest in an aromatouch massage. Massage is also a fantastic way to help move lymph around, as well as reducing stress levels.
As I said before, there's no heart to pump that lymph around your body, but a system of valves prevents backflow. Movement is the key to keeping things moving, so try to walk for at least 30 minutes each day. You can also try to fit in one of the following exercises:
- Shoulder shrugs - Stand or sit in a comfortable position, then breathe in, drawing your shoulders up to your ears. As you breathe out, release them to a neutral position.
- Neck rotations - Inhale as you turn your head to the right, pause and then exhale bringing your head back to the centre. Repeat on the left-hand side.
- Pelvic tilts - Lie flat on your back with your feet hip-width apart and your knees bent. Flatten your lower back against the floor and tilt spine upwards. Lower and repeat.
- Single leg circles - Lie flat on your back with legs straight. Raise your right leg high. Keep your abdominals engaged and lower back pressed firmly on the floor. Make small, clockwise circles in the air with your toes pointed. Repeat in reverse direction and then switch legs.
To dry brush, you use a natural-bristle brush to gently but firmly brush your skin in long strokes toward your heart, usually going over each area two or three times.
At your belly, you brush in a clockwise motion.
So, which steps are you planning to take to start loving your lymph?
And which of them are you already doing?
Let me know in the comments!