Day 8: Lymphatic Love
Do you know what your lymphatic system does? I didn’t until mine stopped working.
So your lymphatic system is an extensive network that exists virtually everywhere in the body. It serves as the body’s primary system of immunity as it functions to create immune cells. Like a cleaning crew, this system also flushes toxins out of the body and moves fat to the circulatory system. Lymph, the clear liquid moved through the body via your lymphatic system is full of white blood cells (lymphocites) which are your body’s main tools when there is an immune response. Having an efficient and functioning lymphatic system is crucial to good health.
Here are 3 simple ways to keep the flow going and detox daily.
Dry brushing is my favorite way to start the morning. It’s quick to do (takes about 5 minutes) and I swear, it’s better than a cup of coffee. Yes, I just said that! BETTER THAN A CUP OF COFFEE. When you dry brush, your skin becomes invigorated and your being is enlivened. Once, I’m finished dry brushing, I’m ready to start the day.
Here’s why dry brushing is so good for you:
- It relaxes the nervous system. Although dry brushing can feel a little odd the first few times you try it, those bristle are helping to stimulate nerve endings in the skin which refreshes your system nervous system and helps keep ya calm.
- It increases circulation, buffs and smoothes your skin and is touted to reduce the appearance of cellulite (I haven’t done it enough yet to support that claim but you can bet your bum I’ll tell you if it works!)
- It helps with nutrient absorption, removal of toxins and improves blood circulation. This helps you stay healthy and keeps your body running more efficiently.
Simple steps to dry brushing at home:
- Buy a good Dry Brush
- Make sure your skin is dry (best to do this before your bath or shower)
- Begin from bottom and move upwards. You’ll use gentle circular motions or longer smoother strokes or a combination of both. I like to do smooth strokes for the legs but round strokes for the ankles, knees, bum, tummy, and elbows.
- Always start at your ankles and move toward your heart. *Make sure to move the brush in the same direction.
- When you get to your back, brush from the neck down instead, toward your lower back.
- Be careful with sensitive skin and never brush over sores, sun burned areas or areas with skin cancer.
Now that I’m in the habit of dry brushing, I can’t go a day without doing it. You’ll notice its power too!
What is oil pulling, you might wonder? Well, it’s an ancient Ayurvedic remedy used to cleanse the body and enhance oral health. Beyond helping the body’s detoxification processes, oil pulling helps remove bacteria, parasites and other toxins from your teeth and mucus membranes, and reduces inflammation in your gums. It has also been shown to improve overall health.
How do you do it?
Well, it’s quite simple actually. When you wake up, before eating or drinking anything, take some high quality oil (organic sesame, olive, sunflower or raw coconut oil) and swish it around in your mouth for 5-20 minutes. It could be a tablespoons worth or I just fill up half a shot glass. Note: if your jaw muscles get sore while swishing, you’re putting too much into it. I swish it like mouthwash and also pull it through my teeth. Once you’re finished swishing it, spit out the oil (it will be frothy and gross) and thoroughly rinse your mouth out with purified water or salt-water. After you’ve rinsed it out, drink a glass or two of filtered water.
How it works?
Essentially, what the oil does is mix with the saliva and this activates enzymes which draw toxins out of the blood. The fat in the oil helps extract these toxins from your mouth. As the oil absorbs toxins, it becomes whiter, thicker and frothy.
Since I’ve started doing it, my gums have healed and the coating I used to wake up with on my tongue is gone.
Tai Chi, Qi Gong & Yoga
Something a little more fun and interesting to do to increase your lymphatic circulation is Tai Chi, Qi Gong or Yoga. The movements of all of these mind/body fitness techniques helps provide relief to the lymphatic system as well as assists with lymphatic drainage. These techniques also relax the nervous system while providing energy to the body.
Here are my favorite Tai Chi/Qi Gong & Yoga DVDs. They are affordable and you can pop them in the player any time of day at home.
Tai Chi/Qi Gong – the great thing about this DVD is that exercises are broken into 3-5 minute segments so you can do this quickly at home or even when you travel.
Yoga Burn – don’t let the name fool you. This video IS a powerful work out but it’s slow paced and easy to follow.
I jump out of bed in the morning, oil pull while I’m putting in my contact lenses, do a little yoga or Qi Gong and dry brush before my shower. All of this takes less than 30 minutes and I start my days ready to face the world, full of zest. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself!