“Research has shown that one system in particular—the lymphatic system—is the key factor in longevity, disease prevention, and living a healthy and vital life. Yet nobody—not the research community, not the medical community, certainly not the public—knows much about it. I want to change that, because after decades in the medical community as a cardiovascular surgeon, I have seen the effect and the promise of a healthy lymphatic system. And I see what an impact it can have—for better or worse—on your health, wellness, and longevity,” writes Gerald M. Lemole, M.D. in his introduction to Lymph & Longevity: The Untapped Secret to Health, the book he wrote with the help of two of his integrative medicine colleagues, Dr. Dwight McKee and Dr. Sandra McLanahan.
He explains that lymph has a hand in virtually every major problem that can happen in the body. The lymphatic system, containing tissues, organs, fluid and vessels, runs between your blood vessels to clear toxins from the body and help deliver nutrients. Lymph fluid traps the threats to your body such as viruses, bacteria, and cancerous cells, and gets them to the lymph nodes where they can be neutralized. If you improve your lymphatic flow, your body is better able to clear out the toxins and waste products which can lead to dysfunction that causes injury, inflammation and disease.
Lymphatic fluid, which occurs in larger volume than blood, is completely circulated once every day. While we have no way of measuring lymph flow, Dr. Lemole gives us ideas and action steps to get our lymphatic systems in optimal working order:
1. Feed your flow with good nutrition (dark leafy greens, red and orange fruits and veggies, blue and purple fruits and veggies, garlic, onions, cloves, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, oregano, basil, and turmeric). Drink plenty of water.
2. Create fast flow with intense exercise.
3. Maintain smooth and unobstructed flow with meditation and relaxation.
4. Listen to music and maybe even dance to get your blood and lymph flowing.
5. Your diaphragm functions as a sort of pump for the lymphatic system, especially when it’s moving deeply or in a coordinated fashion as with yoga breathing exercises. Any deep breathing is beneficial.
6. Get a massage once a month—it directly moves blood and lymph along.
7. Jump on a mini trampoline for 10-20 minutes per day. It moves lymph fluids along four times faster than walking and it moves lymph fluid up against gravity which is also beneficial.
8. Get in a sauna for about 15 minutes once per month. It increases your heart rate and also helps you sweat out toxins.
9. Practice yoga and/or tai chi. The gentle stretching helps move lymph through its pathways.
10. Dr. Lemole provides a chart of lymph-friendly supplements like ginseng, magnesium, horse chestnut seed extract, diosmin, and Coenzyme Q10, including optimal formulations and daily doses.
Lymph & Longevity also includes chapters on the lymph system and heart disease, cancer, GI disorders, weight management and brain conditions. Dr. Lemole even provides healthy recipes and yoga poses that will optimize the flow of your lymphatic system, your secret river of health.