Special thanks to all the hundreds of e-mails and shares in response to my last article regarding “divorcing sugar” and my sugar detox! So many of you can relate to this process… Good to know I’m not the only one! If you didn’t read it yet I hope you go back and check it out. I will have a follow up regarding the progress of this as we go, so stay tuned! We also have a private Facebook group, called YL Sugar Free Year, for those interested in additional support and accountability.
In the mean time I am so excited to introduce our guest blogger, Shannon Johnson, on supporting the lymphatic system. Enjoy!
I AM Love, Dr. Sharnael
Fall energizes me. My internal clock instinctually wants to clean and get things in order at home and at work. Some might feel this way in the Spring, but Fall seems to call to my inner-Cinderella, and I am drawn to mopping floors and cleaning blinds (which may be why the mice like to come in during this time – to help!). Boxes get tossed, recycling goes out, and the things I have not used or even looked at in the last 6 months get hauled to the garbage.
As fall begins, we enter into the month of October with a new season, and a new year on the Jewish calendar. It is a time to put off the things of the past, and move forward ushering in the blessings that will come in the year ahead. Our health, the greatest blessing, is one of the things that should be foremost on our minds during this time, especially how we can prepare our spirit, mind and body to adjust to the changes and accept the ‘new’ with ease and grace.
One way to begin this season, is to learn how to take care of your lymphatic system. The lymph system is how your body rids itself of toxins, chemicals, food additives, and garbage that enters your body by way of the food we eat, and the toxins we breathe. When not circulating properly, your body collects the garbage and stores it wherever it may land; organs, blood, and most especially the lower intestine become the storage units. Blood is made up of about 10% lymph fluid, so the lymph system is a blood cleanser too. The heart does not pump the lymph fluid through the circuit, so we must be mindful of the things we can do to assist the flow so that toxins can exit properly, without taking up residence. And there is three times more lymph fluid in the body as there is blood, so it stands to reason that it has a useful purpose.
Allow me to illustrate: when the garbage gets full inside your house, what do you do? Most people will take the garbage liners out, and walk them to a larger trash bin where the City comes to take it to the landfill. Those that don’t, eventually get featured in an episode of “Hoarders.” We typically do not like trash in our homes. It is dirty, filled with things we do not use, and a lot of the time, stinks. Our bodies are no different. So why are we so good about removing trash from our home, but we do not do the same for our bodies, which is home to our spirit?
So many people do not even know what the lymphatic system does, let alone how to take care of it. So their bodies collect toxins, chemicals, and pollution; because of the nature of the circuitry of the system, all of that garbage cycles and spreads around the loop. This is the exact way cancer is spread throughout the body, and it is well-known that if cancer gets into the lymph, then the severity of the diagnosis skyrockets.
The lymph nodes are the little organs (tonsils and adenoids too) that are located in the neck, the chest, armpits, leg pits (my term), and even in the stomach! They are strategically placed for the circuit to flow, and they operate with a divine purpose – immunity! This is the other, and equally important, purpose to the lymphatic system. Those little glands actually filter out viruses and bacteria or any other unwanted and unrecognized intruders. When you feel slight tenderness, it may be the result of the filter trying to do just that. White blood cells are made in the thymus gland, spleen, appendix, and lymph nodes and they are warriors. They do not like invaders to the body, so they attack them. Anything that is not recognized by the body will be attacked and forced out, as long as the system is flowing as it should. Our guts hold about 80% of the body’s immune cells, which is why the gut is said to be the beginning of all disease.
Waste is sent out of the body through a couple of different channels – fecal matter, through the skin via sweat, and through the liver, kidneys, and bladder via urine. This is why efficiency in the system is vital. When lymph is moving and stays in health, it can communicate effectively to the immune cells and the warriors can move quickly to eliminate any potential problems, before they decide to move in and unpack their things.
So let’s go back to the garbage in your house that you take out daily. Do you recycle glass or plastic so that you are not contributing to the landfill? Your lymphatic system does! Lymph fluid goes to the liver to be detoxified and filtered, then it is released back into the circuit to go evict the junk from stacking up and get you a guest spot on a reality show.
If we did not have functioning lymph systems, the toxins we encounter today would have shortened our life span by decades. Specifically, the food we eat (multiple times a day), releases preservatives and unnatural particles into our bodies, and that adds up fast. Eating nutritious foods, real foods, and keeping ourselves in good health is key to keeping our lymphatic system operational and doing what it does best – keep us from getting sick!
Now that we have some idea of how the system works, let’s talk about the fun part about keeping our lymph systems in good working condition. One of the best forms of the care and keeping of the lymphatic system is…exercising! Ok, before I lose you here…the kind of exercise I’m referring to is actually quite fun. Zero gravity environment exercise. Um…what? Did you ever play on a trampoline when you were a kid? Today there are trampoline businesses bouncing up all over the place that have nothing but large trampolines for kids (big and small) to use recreationally. This is the perfect type of exercise to keep your lymph fluid flowing fluently. If you have a small rebounder (trampoline) hop on and get to bouncing! The movement upwards and downwards without lifting your feet off the screen uses zero gravity with the use of muscular effort working opposite. The lymph system responds quickly to this movement. Try it out for at least five minutes a day.
Ladies, I am going to challenge you to try this without a bra every day. Yes! Let those ta-tas fly girls! The theory behind this is that breast tissue contains quite a few lymph glands all which act as filters to the garbage that is released into our bodies, so when we have a bra strapped tight (especially those that lift and separate), they put just enough pressure on the lymph nodes to potentially pinch off the ability for them to release the junk back into the circuit and eventually get flushed out through sweat or urine. So when we wear our bras all day long, especially when we wear them to bed, they are actually doing us a disservice by holding in the crud that should be working its way through to exit the body. Do not hold your breasts as you jump either ladies, that will defeat the purpose. If it ‘hurts’ for you to do this, then perhaps this is exactly what you need. Plus, the bra was invented in the 20th century, so women got along just fine for thousands of years without underwire and ‘support.’
Another fun way to aid your lymph system in functioning well, is inversion. Think back to when you were a youngin. Did you ever want to be a gymnast? I did. I remember practicing head-stands, cartwheels, hand-stands and flips. I was terrible. There was a reason I never became a gymnast. However, the inversion of doing head-stands and hand-stands is actually perfect for moving lymph. If you are not flexible enough to do this, then doing simple yoga exercises to move lymph towards your heart rather than stay in the lower portion of your body is quite effective. It will also cause you to be more flexible which will create ease of movement throughout your day.
Ever heard of deep breathing? This is another meaningful way to healthier lymph fluid. Oxygen is taken in with a deep breath and carried through the blood as carbon dioxide is released when we exhale. This helps filter and move lymph through the circuit too. Take deep, slow breaths throughout the day, and this will keep the fluid circulating. Dry brushing the skin, drinking plenty of water and getting lymphatic drainage massages are all methods to improving your lymphatic tissue and fluid, and keeping you healthy.
There is no need for you to be sick just because other people are getting colds or flu during ‘cold and flu season.’ This is a myth! Not every cold is from bacteria. Some colds are your body’s way of saying it needs to be detoxed! If you continuously take good care of your lymphatic system, you will most likely have less blockage built up in your sinuses and throughout your body for the body to alert you by releasing the mucus. Fat is also flushed out of the body quicker when our lymph systems are in good health.
There is something to be said for getting in touch with our inner child, by using trampolines, playing gymnastics and even partaking in the occasional roller coaster ride. We are called to be like children in Matthew 18:3, “Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” We are not too old for fun things, especially when they are so beneficial for us. Have fun while you keep yourself in proper working order. There is no rule that says maintaining health should sap you of energy or even be tough to endure. The methods described above are not difficult to do, nor do they require endurance or the need to ‘be in shape.’ The lymphatic system moves peacefully through the body and peace ‘flows like a river.’ So the movement most beneficial to the lymphatic system is gentle, smooth and fluid.
As we enter into the new year, and into October, remember to focus on your lymphatic system; the center of immunity in the body, that eliminates waste, detoxifies and fights for your health. And just as you would clean your home of trash, and put out the recycling, don’t forget to do that with your body’s system as well. Our responsibility is to ourselves first, so start this season out by putting your health first. Happy rebounding!
Shannon Johnson, founder of Creative Light Ministry, is a Certified Health Specialist, Certified Nutritional Counselor, Licensed Massage Therapist (certified in Lymphatic drainage and massage technique), Master Herbalist, Author, Editor, Teacher and Natural Health advocate. Shannon is currently getting her Naturopathic Doctorate, and her Master’s in Health Administration.
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