Why seeing red is great for lymphatic health
Did you know that red-staining foods are excellent for lymphatic health?
Plants, fruit and vegetables traditionally used to produce red dyes (cherries, berries, pomegranates, beetroot and cranberries) were frequently used in Ayurvedic and other Eastern medicines to boost lymphatic flow when signs of stagnation occurred. This is because the compounds responsible for their intense colour (such as anthocyanins, lycopene and betalain) are powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. Research has shown that anthocyanins in particular are effective against cancer, ageing, neurological disease, chronic inflammation and diabetes.
Deserving of particular attention are cranberries, which are great fat emulsifiers and will help break down excess fat for easier absorption and transportation through the lymphatic system; and beets, which thin the bile, which has been shown to play a major role in the immune response of the gut. Bile also regulates the stool, helps digest good fat and disposes of bad fat. Beets also scrub the villi of the gut, which is where digestive lymph originates in the lacteals. See our blog ‘The lymphatic system and fat digestion‘ for more information.
However, one of the most powerful lymph-supporting red foods is the Manjistha root, highly prized in Ayurvedic medicine for its ability to boost lymphatic flow and overall health. As we have read in previous posts, Ayurveda places the lymphatic system at the centre of human health, with “raysana” or the study of rejuvenation and longevity translating as “study of the lymph”.
Manjistha (or Rubia cordifolia, meaning “red root”) has been found to support the liver when it is exposed to high levels of toxins by boosting the production of glutathione, recognised as one of the body’s most powerful anti-oxidants. Difficult to come by in it’s fresh state, there are many Manjistha supplements that are available in powder and capsule form.
If you prefer your supplementation fresh, the following is recommended as a great lymph-moving juice:
- 2 blood oranges
- 1/4 red cabbage
- 1 red beetroot
- 3 celery stalks
- 1 piece fresh ginger
- juice of 1 lemon
So to keep your lymph flowing freely, be sure to load up on loads of lovely red fruit and veg – cherries, cranberries, raspberries, red cabbage, pomegranate and beetroot – are especially high in anthocyanins. Enjoy!