What is the secret to a healthy life? It’s a question that’s been asked for generations. A question that, for each of those generations, has had many answers – some grounded in truth, others that could perhaps be lumped into the category formerly known as ‘old wives’ tales’.
How many of you had a grandparent that swore abstinence was the secret? “Abstinence from what?”, you ask. Well it probably depended on which grandparent you asked. Abstain from alcohol, one might say, while another might swear by a nip of brandy before bedtime. Abstaining from sex is the key, another might declare (although that would lead one to wonder how they ever became grandparents).
And let’s not forget the countless diets that have hailed as the secret to a healthy life. What we eat has brought the gut microbiome sharply in focus in recent years.
According to a new book, though, there’s something else inside you that could unlock the secret to ongoing health – your lymphatic system.
Dr Gerald M Lemole, a former cardiothoracic specialist who was part of the surgical team that performed the first heart transplant in the US in 1968, champions the importance of the lymph in his book, the evocatively titled Lymph and Longevity.
While such a title might have the hearts of Jane Austen fans aflutter, the book’s focus is not the heart, but the lymph, which according to Dr Lemole is far more vital to our health than previously thought.
“For years even the medical profession thought the lymph system was just a waste disposal system that served no additional purpose,” he explains. “It was overlooked and disregarded until gradually science has shown it is involved in every organ and process of the body.”
Dr Lemole explains that, while our cardiovascular system has our heart to pump bloody around our body, the lymphatic system has no such luxury. Fluid moves through the lymph via muscle contraction, making it incumbent on us to help it out by maintaining general health.
In basic terms, the lymphatic system is your body’s ‘sewerage system’, filtering out bacteria, viruses and even cancer cells from bodily fluid that passes through the lymph nodes. According to Dr Lemole, keeping the system in shape is one of the keys to our health.
In order to keep our lymphatic system in prime condition, Dr Lemole makes a range of recommendations, including:
- having a 15-minute sauna (or hot bath)
- adding herbs and spices such as cayenne and turmeric to your meal
- having a massage once a month
- practicing yoga
- eating more berries and nuts
- running, swimming, or cycling several times a week
- getting seven hours of sleep per day
- drinking a litre of water each day.
Many of these recommendations are, of course, nothing new, and the idea that we need to drink a litre of water has been widely debunked. But a well-functioning lymphatic system is undoubtedly a good thing for overall health, so following Dr Lemole’s advice is likely to be beneficial.
Whether one needs become a ‘lymphomaniac’ and purchase Dr Lemole’s book to achieve those goals is another thing altogether.
Lymph & Longevity: The Untapped Secret to Health by Dr Gerald M Lemole is published by Simon and Schuster.If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.