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Boost your immunity this winter  

8 simple ways to look after your lymphatic health

With the UK currently stuck in lockdown 3.0, and damp dark days and home working confining many of us to more sedentary lifestyles, now more than ever it’s important to reset the wellness button and consider some simple ways to take better care of your health.  

If you are starting to struggle with lethargy, tiredness and bloating there’s potentially good reason why, and your lymphatic system may hold the key.  Founder of Body Ballancer® Systems UK Ltd.  Jules Willcocks explains why: “One of the most common complaints repeatedly coming up in conversations with friends, family and clients is how tired they are feeling, with many struggling to get motivated. Though the dark cold mornings, and anxiety over COVID are partly to blame, a lot of this also comes down to the fact our lymphatic system is just not getting the work-out it needs.”   

Often referred to as the ‘transport network of the immune system’, the lymphatic system is recognised by doctors in Europe and the Far East for its importance to preventive health care, so vital is it to our immune function.  

Lymph vessels specifically designed to carry and excrete away the toxins in our system via the liver and kidneys, help our immune system keep us healthy.  Yet unlike our blood vessels which have the heart to pump the blood around our body, our lymph system relies on movement to keep it flowing.  When our lymphatic system gets blocked or overrun through lack of activity, stress, illness, or toxic overload, it can lead to a host of problems such as swelling, excess cellulite, joint pain, nausea, extreme lethargy and fatigue.   

Jules continues: “Unlike the lockdown in the Spring when unseasonably warm weather enabled many of us to get more active through daily walks, cycling, running or even gardening, the winter months are likely to confine many of us to home and a much less active lifestyle.  It’s important we look at alternative ways to promote a healthy, fully functioning lymphatic system to keep us healthy and the winter bugs at bay.”  

Jules shares eight simple ways to show your lymph some love this winter:

1. The magic of massage – The most effective way to guarantee a healthy lymphatic system is through massage.  With more and more celebrities and models such as the Kardashians, Chrissy Tiegen, Kate Moss, Victoria Beckham and Rochelle Humes extolling the virtues of lymphatic massage, the treatment is beginning to become more widely known in Britain.  Though lymphatic massage is increasingly being offered in some of the UK’s top end spas and clinics, manual lymphatic massage is a very specialist treatment and can be difficult to find in many parts of the UK.  However fear not; the team at Body Ballancer® are on a mission to make the treatment more accessible to all.  This versatile, relaxing yet revitalising compression therapy system uses the proven principles of manual lymphatic drainage to offer a no touch lymphatic massage without the need of a therapist.  Available both as a treatment in spas and clinics across the UK or to purchase for home use.

2. Get Active – A dose of sunshine and fresh air is great for not only boosting your mood, but combining with exercise such as gardening, walking (especially brisk walking while swinging your arms), jogging, or cycling will also help to liven your lymphatic system up. If outdoor exercise gets rained off by the winter weather, dancing to your favourite songs, climbing stairs, and performing household chores is enough to get the lymphatic system moving.

3. Stay hydrated – This seems to be the answer to all ills, but when it comes to the lymphatic system it cannot be underestimated. As lymphatic fluid is made up of 96% water, even mild to moderate dehydration can have a significant effect, causing stagnation and congestion. And remember, we are already dehydrated when we feel thirsty so try not to wait until then to reach for the water bottle.

4. Zone out – Stress is one of the major causes of poor lymphatic health as it leads to an increase in the production of the hormone cortisol, which is known to affect lymphatic flow. Activities such as meditation, yoga, Pilates, practicing mindfulness and getting plenty of rest are key to combating stress and anxiety.   Alternatively, why not give yourself a digital detox this weekend and treat yourself instead to a hot chocolate, and relax and unwind to some great music or a good book?  Good quality drinking chocolate high in cacao has high levels of Theobromine which can promote wakefulness, lower blood pressure, and boost your mood.

5. Brush it better – Dry skin brushing is a great way to release toxins by stimulating the tiny lymphatic vessels that sit just below the skin. Best done first thing in the morning before showering, begin with the soles of the feet and brush with upward strokes as you move up the legs and towards the heart. Use the same method on your upper body, beginning with the hands up your arms.  The routine should take you no more than 5-10 minutes. For best results, look to repeat 3-5 times a week.

6. Eat well – As the saying goes you are what you eat.  Our busy lifestyles sometimes make it easier to reach for the ready meals or dial for a Deliveroo. Unfortunately, take-aways and pre-prepared foods are often loaded full of sugar and salt which is bad news for the lymphatic system.  Try where possible to avoid adding to the detoxifying burden of your lymphatic system with sugary, processed additive-laden foods, fizzy drinks and confectionery.  Instead opt for nutrient rich foods such as leafy greens, citrus fruits, red berries, ginger, turmeric, nuts and seeds and garlic which are not only great at helping to get your lymphatic system back on track but great for boosting immunity too.

7. Yes to yellow –  Including yellow foods in your diet can provide several benefits from healthy hearts and improved circulation to better immunity.  Here’s a list of our favourites:

  • Lemons are well known to cleanse toxins from any part of the body and Ayurvedic medicine uses both lemons and lemon essential oil to treat a significant number of health conditions.
  • Ginger has been used for centuries and is highly prized in Chinese medicine where it is regarded as a warming herb with particular benefits for the lymph nodes, spleen, heart and digestive organs.
  • A staple in India for thousands of years, turmeric is wonderful for increasing circulation and enhancing the detox function of the liver. It also increases the body’s antioxidant levels, stimulates the metabolism and is a powerful anti-inflammatory.
  • Sweet potatoes are rich in antioxidants and have four times the recommended daily intake of Beta-Carotene, converted by the body into Vitamin A, which has a critical role to play in immune function.

8. Pass on the Prosecco – Though it’s tempting to reach for the bottle as a way to relax and unwind too much alcohol can have a negative impact on our lymph nodes, making it harder for them to destroy waste and toxins and more difficult for the immune system to gear up and defend the body against infection. Like most things its’ better to enjoy alcohol in moderation.