Love Your Lymph : The Secrets to Glowing Skin, Boosted Immunity, Great Circulation and a Happy Tummy
The lymph (or lymphatic) system is truly amazing ! If you don’t know much about this or are ready for a refresher read on 👇🏼….
Basically, our lymph system clears toxins and wastes out of our body. It runs in a similar path to our cardiovascular (blood) circulation. There are smaller vessels, bigger vessels, little checkpoints (nodes), valves and a pumping mechanism. The Cardiovascular system moves ‘red fluid’ (blood) and the lymphatic system moves our ‘clear fluid’, our lymph.
It has a lot of super important jobs like regulating fluid metabolism, immunity - it contains and helps develop white blood cells + T cells (natural killers) which controlling viruses and bacteria by destroying any infected, diseased or destructive cells. The lymph nodes (the darker green dots in the image below) are like bigger filter stations and are there to prevent infection from moving to other parts of our body, especially our brain. These nodes swell if there is an infection. Our main lymph nodes are in the groin, armpits, neck, glands and jaw line and around our breasts (where the main drainage ducts are housed) and our digestive system.
In Chinese Medicine we understand the lymph system even deeper. Our spleen (very important digestive organ) is THE organ of the lymphatic system. It rules transforming and transporting information and nutrients through it's metabolic function and controls the middle waterways - think weight gain + fluid retention around our mid body, sluggishness, easy bloating, puffiness etc.
It also recycles blood cells and makes new blood. Bone marrow - which is the foundation of new blood, is also part of the lymph system - see how it all links up 🙌🏼. The spleens best friend are the lungs, which, rule immunity, the skin (+ opening + closing of the pores to regulate body temperature) and the waterways of the upper body, think puffy face, eye bags.
The lymphatic system plays a huge role in our skins health and appearance too as well as our digestive function. As you can see in the diagram there are many lymph nodes in the intestine and gastrointestinal tract. These lymph nodes in the gut are among the hundreds of nodes that help our body fight off disease by trapping then destroying the microscopic "invaders".
Easy ways to keep your lymph happy :
✨ Have ‘warm’ food + drinks - the spleen doesn't like raw, cold or excessive sweet foods (or drinks)
✨ Activate your ‘skeletal pump’ in your calf muscle = raise onto tippy toes lifting heels, pulse up + down - try skipping, a mini tramp, brisk walks or anything activating the calves
✨ Breast health is so important and as we have so many major lymph nodes around the breast and underarms the deodorant we choose it vital to our health. Unfortunately mainstream 'antiperspirants' block our normal sweating and detoxing mechanism and deodorants often contain overpowering chemical scents to mask body odour. I'm sure you've heard that our skin is our largest organ and therefore anything we put 'on' our skin we naturally absorb.
✨ Raise your legs above your heart - make an L shape at the end of your day with your legs raised, scoot your butt to the wall and let your legs rest straight against it - 10 - 15 minutes is good. You can just rest, read a book, journal, listen to music or a podcast - tune in if it would suit you best to just be still and relax here - this is great to calm the nervous system too !!
✨ Self massage / dry brushing / gua sha tool. For body gua sha or dry brushing always move from your feet to your heart in short smooth strokes focusing on your groin and underarms. We have major lymph nodes all around the neck and jaw line too, so it's important to gently stimulate these with your gua sha tool and face massage. You can learn how to give yourself a highly effective home facial, tighten and tone your face and move lymph with this short video here.
✨ incorporate pungent foods, gentle spices, dry + fresh herbs, pears, orange + potassium rich foods
✨ Reduce toxins in foods - eat clean, wholefoods, all the rainbow and buy organic where possible, skincare (opt for cruelty free, organic, minimal ingredients, in glass and vegan). This was a huge one for me and learning how detrimental these toxins are to us, and how they add up over our daily use I created a clean beauty range myself.
✨ Air and water quality - always opt for filtered or spring water. We absorb harmful chemicals from our drinking water but also through the water we use for teeth brushing, cooking and importantly showering !! After years of searching I found this great whole house and undersink alkalysing water filter system by an Australian owned company, and after almost a year now it's still one of the best investments and decisions I've made. For 10% off use code 'nourished'. Message me if you'd like to know which filters I have in my home (I spent so much time searching for a good one so I'm happy to make it a smoother experience for others). If you're not sure about the quality or alkalinity of your water you can easily by pH testing strips from most pharmacies. I was shocked at how bad ours was and found it so interesting to see the before and after pH levels.
✨ Move, stretch + breathe deeply - breathing deep into the lower back and belly and up and out along your spine moving outwards like a T shape along your shoulder blades, or counting - to inhale deeply and exhale fully - you can also add a 'hold' in between inhalation and exhalation 🙌🏼
There is much more to the lymphatic system I'll be sharing soon, so stay tuned and if you're not already you can sign up to join the nourished temple family here (at the end of the home page) to find out when this is ready.