For me, exercise is just as important as diet and supplements when it comes to maintaining my health. When I had my second cancer surgery they removed a large portion of the lymph glands in my lower body. This handicapped me in a way, because if I don’t move enough to keep that lymph moving, I get sluggish and don’t feel as well. And if I go too long, my leg will swell. It’s called lymphedema, and I’ve heard it’s common after cancer surgery.
Get Your Lymph Moving
Especially in the beginning, I had to use a lymph pump for several hours a day to get the lymph fluid moving in my leg. I’d even sleep with that machine running and my leg propped up on pillows to get the job done. Once I made my lifestyle healthier, ate foods that cleanse the lymph, and understood the importance of exercise, I got so I needed the pump less and less until I didn’t need it anymore at all. Since then I’ve set a permanent goal to exercise at least 5 days a week so I don’t get sluggish and swell up again.
The lymph system is your body’s second circulatory system, but it doesn’t have a pump like the heart to keep it moving. Lymph only moves when you move. When lymph doesn’t move it pools, and that causes swelling and even infection in the areas where it’s stagnant.
The lymphatic system is an important part of your body’s immune system. The lymph nodes make immune cells and act as filters for the lymph fluid to remove bacteria and even cancer cells. When that lymph fluid isn’t moving, the filters plug up and that’s when the problems start. Organs like the spleen, thymus, and even the tonsils and adenoids are all affected when lymph stops moving.
Simple Steps to Relieve Your Leg Swelling
The number one key to relieving my leg swelling is exercise. For me, walking works the best. I worked my way up to walking an hour a day, and spend at least 10 minutes of that time doing deep breathing exercises and really getting that oxygen in. I want it to go to all of my tissues so cancer has no place to hide – it doesn’t thrive where there’s oxygen. I make sure some of my walk is up and down hills, and I do it any kind of weather.
Rebounding on a mini-trampoline is another great way to move the lymph. Lymph nodes open and close vertically and the up-and-down motion of jumping on the trampoline cleanses the lymph and gets it moving in the direction it needs to go.
Other things that help keep lymph moving are cran water (from Ann Louise Gittleman’s Fat Flush Plan), cleavers tea, lymphatic massage from a practitioner, alternating hot and cold showers, and my personal favorite – Vitamin C. Make sure you are well hydrated; lymph can’t flow like it should when the body is dehydrated and that will cause water retention and bloating.
Lose the Water Weight
If you have belly fat, bloating, swelling in your ankles and legs, and acid reflux symptoms, then you have lymphatic congestion. Have you ever seen those people who start on a diet and in the first week lose 10 pounds or even more? There’s a reason for this – water weight from the lymph system being backed up. That diet they started increased their water intake so they’re no longer dehydrated, and increased their vegetables and fruits, which cleanse lymph and get it flowing again. Once the lymph gets moving the water weight comes off.
The best thing I can recommend other than eating healthy is to move every day. Take an hour a day, just for yourself; walk and deep breathe. Join a mall walkers group. Examine your life ahead – do you want to be stiff and swollen or do you want to be able to move and still do the activities you enjoy? It’s never too late to learn to take care of yourself.