Let's start loving our lymph!
The time has come to pay attention to our lymph. This amazing system which is often so overlooked and little understood deserves our focus and love!
So what exactly is Lymph and why should we look after it?
The lymphatic system consists of a network of vessels and tissues which carry lymph around the body. Lymph is a fluid containing infection fighting white blood cells that carries waste products and toxins away from the cells of the body through the lymphatic system. The lymph is filtered through the lymph nodes which are located throughout the body before being drained back into the bloodstream at the right and left subclavian veins. The lymphatic system doesn't have a heart to pump the lymph around the body so relies on the contraction of skeletal muscle and the action of breathing in.
Ok enough of the science what does this actually mean?
Put simply, for all sorts of reasons lymph can become stagnant in the body. Here are some signs your lymphatic system may be backed up:
Lack of energy
Frequent colds or flu
Constipation and sluggish bowel function
Swelling and heaviness in the extremities
Sore breasts and bloating with your menstrual cycle
So what can we do to give our lymph a boost?
There are a load of simple new habits you can introduce into your diet and lifestyle to give your lymphatic system a little love. Lets touch on a few of them here.
BOOK A MANUAL LYMPHATIC DRAINAGE MASSAGE OF COURSE!
Well surprisingly despite its name Manual Lymphatic Drainage is one of the most gentle and relaxing treatments I know of. Through using special rhythmic strokes that mimic the natural flow of the lymphatic system, stagnant lymph is encouraged to flow once more and directed to the places in the body it's supposed to go. So simple yet so effective. Another major benefit of this treatment is the effect it has on relaxing your nervous system so also a fabulous option for stress and anxiety.
I have treated clients with Manual Lymphatic Drainage for all sorts of reasons; broken ankles, post liposuction, anxiety, bloating, frequent colds, weak immune system, sinusitis to name but a few. It really is a treatment for everyone.
DRINK PLENTY OF WATER
Yes I know we hear this all the time, but it really is that simple to give your lymphatic system a boost. Lymph is primarily composed of water so by keeping it hydrated it performs to the highest level. Add some lemon and flush those toxins out!
Well this applies to health overall and not just the lymphatic system. We should all be eating a diet rich in high anti-oxidant, alkaline food and healthy fats.
Some of the best foods to eat which detoxify the lymphatic system are dark red fruits and vegetables such as:
Consuming an omega 3 rich diet is also critical for fighting inflammation and ridding the body of immune system weakening pathogens.
Again we all know we should but can sometimes struggle to fit this in with our busy lives. Even a brisk walk can help get your blood pumping increasing oxygen flow to the muscles and helping to clear toxins from the body's tissues and cells. Walking also creates a gravitational pull on the lymphatic system with every step, drawing the lymph up towards the heart.
Even better start rebounding (basically jumping on a mini trampoline)!. The jumping action passively moves the lymph in the body and lets be honest sounds like a lot of fun!
Sounds a bit weird doesn't it? Dry brushing a technique commonly used in Ayurvedic Medicine for assisting lymphatic flow and boosting circulation. All you do is take a dry brush with coarse bristles and brush your skin towards your lymph nodes and heart. Do it before a shower and not only does it really get your lymph flowing but removes dead skin leaving your skin feeling soft and your body lovely and light.
I recommend this dry brush kit which is the one I use and also includes a mini one for your face.
It's a fact that when we get stressed our breathing becomes shallow in fact sometimes when I'm stressed I have to occasionally remind myself to breathe!
The lymphatic system has no pump, however the movement from breathing acts as a kind of lymphatic pump helping to direct lymph up through the chest. Simply put constant shallow breathing leads to lymphatic congestion.
By becoming aware of out breath we can engage deep diaphragmatic breathing: breathing in deeply through the nose and pushing our stomach out before slowly letting the breath go out through the mouth. Even just doing this for a few minutes a day will oxygenate the blood, circulate the lymph and relax the entire nervous system making you feel better and having a positive overall benefit to your health.
So there we have it, the lymphatic system is pretty amazing and not only is it easy to do little things daily to help it along but its so important for our overall health and wellbeing. If you'd like to book a lymphatic drainage massage or have any questions get in touch!