As the new season gets under way we may be turning our thoughts to spring cleaning our homes. Traditionally it's a time for letting stagnant air out and welcoming fresh energy in. So this is a great excuse to do a thorough spring clean of our bodies too, right?
Wrong! A deep "cleanse" is the last thing you should be thinking of doing right now. Particularly if you're dealing with chronic illness, as you can actually end up doing more harm than good.
Before you start any type of deep cleanse, it is essential that your elimination pathways are open. If the main elimination pathways are not open, your body could be recirculating toxins rather than getting rid of them. This means we need to be producing a bowel movement at least once a day to eliminate waste via the stool. Adequate hydration is necessary to allow the body to flush toxins through the kidneys via urine and skin by way of perspiration. We need access to fresh, clean air to help us to expel stale air from the lungs.
The body stores toxins in fat tissue so when weight loss is involved, those toxins are mobilized into the blood stream. Once there, toxins can find their way anywhere throughout the body - including the brain.
Toxins accumulate at a faster rate than we are able to detoxify. Therefore regular gentle detoxification that helps the body to eliminate naturally and slowly is a sensible idea. Today I want to pay special attention to the lymphatic system since it's a major player when it comes to detoxification.
The lymphatic system is a vital piece of the immune system and the body's first line of defence against disease. A network of thin tubes and nodules that run alongside the blood vessels in our body, the lymphatic system doesn't have a pump like the cardiovascular system, so it relies on a kind of osmosis system where blood is filtered through the lymph and then recycled back into the blood stream. This is why the lymphatic system is called the body's waste disposal. Lymph nodes collect the "waste", aka toxins, and pass it through to the liver which prepares it for elimination. Water retention, bloating, cellulite, poor circulation, blocked ears, swollen glands and brain fog are all signs that your lymphatic system is in need of some assistance.
Notice any of these symptoms?
Then try these ways to increase your own lymph flow -
- Rebound - jumping on a mini trampoline for 5 - 15 minutes each day is perfect, not just for stimulating the flow of lymph fluid, but you'll be strengthening your bones as well. If you don't have a trampoline, run up and down the stairs (careful on the way down of course), or get yourself a skipping rope instead
- Massage - a lymphatic drainage massage will help release any swollen lymph nodes and get toxins flowing easily. Gently does it though, since the lymph nodes are just below the skin. Alternatively, try this DIY method.
- Gua sha neck drainage - my latest obsession (along with jade rollers) is also relaxing, firming and reduces any puffiness. I also can't get enough of these videos. If you think about the neck being the highway between the brain and the body, you'll get why this is important
- Movement - encourages the lymph nodes to squeeze, thus keeping the lymphatic system open and flowing rather than pooling in the arms or legs
- Breathe deeply - moves and pumps fluid through the Lymphatic System at the same time as providing fresh oxygen to the lungs
- Hydration - drinking water helps the lymphatic system to circulate white blood cells around the body. It also transports toxins to the lymph and liver for elimination. Whatever your body weight is in pounds, you should drink a minimum of half that in ounces. Try starting the day with a glass of warm remineralizing lemon water as opposed to coffee
- Dry skin brush - exfoliate dead skin, allow skin to breathe and stimulate lymphatic drainage all at the same time. Start with a light touch, brushing towards the heart and avoiding sensitive areas such as the chest and groin. Once you're more accustomed to the practice, apply more pressure and build up to what feels good to you. Best to do this in the morning since it's stimulating, then follow with a warm shower to wash away the dead skin
- Alternate hot/cold showers - heat expands and cold contracts, resulting in the vessels squeezing lymph fluid along, pushing waste through the nodules and enabling drainage. Target the nodules which are located in the mammary area, neck, groin, and right behind the crease of the knee
- Lymph essential oil blend - my favourite blend to help encourage lymph flow. I swear by this! Put a drop on the neck, under the arms and along the bikini line. Use before rebounding and it'll be even more effective
- Ditch the underwire bras - the wiring restricts lymph flow under the breasts, making the fluid stagnant. Choose a wire-free bra wherever possible. Also do some of your rebounding bra-less once in a while to get that stretch of the lymph system circulating efficiently
Note: Having a bowel movement at least once every day is very important. If you are releasing toxins they need to go somewhere. An effective way to speed up a sluggish digestive system is to take magnesium in the short term but should not be seen as a long term solution as isolating minerals can create an imbalance. Magnesium citrate is not super absorbable but it is very useful for getting the bowels moving. Just be sure to avoid the flavoured versions, since they often contain corn.
Let me know how you get on with these suggestions. Which one do you enjoy the most?
Are you interested in working with me to address your health symptoms on a deeper level? Take a look at my Work with Me Page.