After a holiday season of diet debauchery, a lot of you are working your way through a detox this month. While cleaning up the diet and getting in plenty of detoxifying whole food supplements are key components of a full body detox, there are other important matters to attend to here. Today we’ll talk about the lymph, because your lymph is deeply involved in your body’s daily detoxification process. That means it’s also key to a functioning immune system!
Here’s a little rundown on what the lymph is and what it does:
Lymph is the fluid that flows throughout the lymphatic system; it is made up of different components as it goes through different parts of the body. Sometimes it contains proteins, other times it contains bacteria and fats. Regardless of the content of the lymph at any given time, it must flow freely to ensure that waste products do not build up in the tissues. The lymphatic system is made up of tissues that produce, store, and transport white blood cells and includes a complex network of vessels, ducts, lymph nodes, the spleen, the thymus, the adenoids, and the tonsils. This expansive system is found throughout your body, removing waste from every cell while helping to regulate the immune system.
Think of your lymphatic system as your body’s sewage system. As it flows throughout the body, it collects and properly disposes of toxic materials. You don’t want lymph sitting stagnant in any part of your body, just like you don’t want sewage water just laying around in puddles in home and neighborhood. The results are similar – more disease and less vibrant health. The lymphatic system doesn’t have a mechanical pump of its own, it relies on the contraction of the muscles of the body to move. A lack of movement isn’t the only thing that can prevent the proper flow of lymph, though. Infection by a pathogen can grind things to a bit of a halt, but so can stress and digestive imbalance. When the lymph becomes clogged, symptoms will begin to appear. Some of those symptoms may include the following:
- Water retention
- Stiffness, especially in the morning
- Brain fog
- Itchy and dry skin
- Stubborn weight gain
- Chronic sinusitis, sore throats, colds, and ear issues
- Breast swelling with the menstrual cycle
- Swollen glands
- Cold hands and feet
We’ll discuss the stress angle of clogged lymph next week, but for now, here are a few easy steps you can take to keep your lymph flowing freely:
- Drink plenty of water! At least 1/2 your body weight in ounces on a low-key day, more if your sweating
- Move your body. Walking, biking, running, hiking, rebounding (jumping on a mini-trampoline)…really anything you enjoy that gets the blood pumping, works for the lymph, too.
- Eat some raw fruits and veggies each day, especially the red ones (think pomegranates, cranberries, cherries, and beets).
- Do some deep breathing through your nose (this is meditative, too, which speaks directly to that stress issue).
- A lymph massage is helpful as well. Don’t have time to get to your massage therapist? You can do a bit of it yourself. Check out this video on how to handle the lymph in your head and neck.
Join us again next week, when we dive a little more into how to protect your lymph from stress and digestive imbalances!