We’re all familiar with our blood circulatory system of miles of blood vessels that run, like little red rivers, though our bodies, but how many of us are familiar with the presence and vital use of our lymph system of “rivers” full of 95% water and 5% lymph fluid tasked with taking the garbage out? Along the rivers are way-stations called “nodes.” It’s their job to detect infections, bugs and other toxins that do not belong there and do battle with them to hopefully kill them.

Swollen lymph nodes are a sign that our lymph system has detected some “enemy” invading our body and is doing battle with the goal of gathering it up and flushing it out. (Wise to have your doctor also take a look at swollen lymph nodes.)

Our first step to help the lymph fluid keep flowing to flush the toxins out, that is to detox, to flush the garbage out, can be done before getting out of bed in the morning. Just do what comes naturally — stretch. Watch a cat or a dog when they wake up. They stretch first one way and then the other before they leave their sleep spot. Stretch your legs, stretch your toes, stretch your arms, arch your back. Then, while your coffee is doing its thing, do some of the old, simple stretching exercises like arms and feet out and then swinging first one arm down to touch the toes — or as close as you can get — on the opposite side. Repeat with the other arm for 10 repetitions. Next, with both hands, with feet together, reach to touch your toes. For a third simple exercise, stand with feet apart and arms out to the side and swing your arms like helicopter blades, pivoting from the waist, first one way and then the other. For a last one do “jumping jacks.” These simple exercises help the lymph fluid to get moving as well as exercising your muscles. A good way to start your day.

Before you get in the shower, ‘dry brush’ down. This is super effective, as many of our lymph rivers run just under our skin. You can use your hand to gently stroke in a set pattern, to help get the lymph flushed, but I like the “dry brush” with, for example, a shower brush. There are some great YouTube videos on this method. Just search for “lymph dry brush.”

A good massage will accomplish this, too. This is expensive but a good idea to indulge in every now and then. (A professional massage can also get muscle knots out, a big bonus. Many masseuses don’t tell you, after doing this, to drink lots of water for the next few hours. This helps flush all the toxins you have loosened up on their way, like being carried by rivers on out to sea. Otherwise, they are liable to stagnate and reabsorb into your body.)

Keeping the lymph system cleaned out is one of the best and easiest things we can do for our immune system. But the trick is to keep from getting sick in the first place. We can do the major part of staying healthy by ourselves. And today, with the internet, there’s a plethora of studies and information we can tap into. (Likewise a plethora of misinformation. The trick is to differentiate between the two. And there’s no way a column, restricted by length, can begin to cover any one subject.) It’s kinda like picking wild mushrooms. Consult expert information before “eating.”

Oh, a quick aside, considering the craziness we’re going through now. I have yet to have a doctor advise me and give examples of how to bolster our natural immune system. Indeed, today, like no other time and at a time most important, government officials and their lackey media seem hell-bent to not only not give us advice on how to build up our immunity but to issue edicts that can suppress it. In fact, many world-renowned scientists and doctors have been punished for giving advice on what we can do to strengthen our natural immune systems to aid our protection from coming down with the coronaviruses, which include not just the one prevalent today, but the annual flus and the common cold, which are all coronaviruses. What’s that all about?

One important preventive we can fortify ourselves with: zinc. This is best obtained through foods. Zinc is one of those minerals/supplements, same as Vitamin A, safer obtained through foods than tablets. I learned that one the hard way. Although many vitamins/supplements, like Vitamin D3, can be taken in higher than the RDA, take too much zinc, by supplements, and you could find your head spinning.

Some foods rich in zinc: chicken, red meat, salmon, grass-fed dairy, oysters, spinach, asparagus, pumpkin seeds, dark grapes (from the skins) and watermelon seeds.

Why, I ask, have they bred the seeds out of watermelons? I won’t touch a seedless watermelon. That’s a whole other subject worth looking into. But consider this: It’s Monsanto that bred these seedless watermelons. They are GMO’d. And tasteless besides, next to old natural watermelons. And besides, you can’t have watermelon seed spitting contests with them.

And, as we writers always need to do, if we don’t want to be accused of “practicing medicine,” we write a “disclaimer.” Here is mine: “I’m just conveying what I’ve found and practice. You should investigate yourself before putting anything into practice.” In other words, you’re on you own. (Tongue in cheek.)

Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, an award-winning columnist, is a Maine native and a graduate of Belfast schools now living in Morrill. Her columns appear in this paper every other week.

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