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Keeping Your Skin's pH in Balance

Keeping Your Skin's pH in Balance

This post is about the importance of keeping your skin's pH in balance. We will discuss the pH level of healthy skin, what it means to have a balanced skin pH, what upsets skin pH, how can you maintain your skin’s pH balance and how can you test your skin pH.

Introduction

Many people think of skincare in terms of skincare products and beauty routines such as face scrubbing. But the secret to smooth, young, and healthy skin may already lie within your skin itself. 

Skin pH is something that most beauty enthusiasts may have heard about, but something that very few really understand. As such, an in-depth understanding of the natural pH of human skin may very well be what you have been missing in your skincare routine. To learn more about the importance of keeping your skin pH in balance, we’ll look at:

  • What is pH? 
  • The pH level of healthy skin
  • What does a balanced skin pH mean? 
  • What is an unbalanced skin pH?
  • What upsets skin pH? 
  • How can you maintain your skin’s pH balance? 
  • How can you test your skin pH? 
  • Better skincare

What is pH?

pH, which means potential of hydrogen, is a numerical value used to measure the acidity or alkalinity of a substance. The pH scale runs from 0 to 14. While 7 is neutral, the numbers below it are acidic. Those higher than 7 are basic (alkaline). Hence, a substance with a pH value of 0 is quite acidic, while one with a value of 14 is very basic. So, what is the pH value of healthy skin? 

The pH Level of Healthy Skin

Healthy human skin is expected to have a pH level of between 4.7 and 6. This means that the skin is naturally slightly acidic. If your skin pH is between 4.7 and 6, then your skin has a balanced pH. Anything more or less than that indicates more acidity or more alkalinity and is regarded as unbalanced. 

What Does a Balanced Skin pH Mean?

Many people do not pay attention to their skin’s pH, but it’s an important factor to consider. On the epidermis, which is the uppermost surface of the skin, there’s a protective layer known as the acid mantle. The acid mantle is made up of sebum, sweat, and dead skin cells. Your acid mantle acts as a barrier between the skin and external elements in the environment. This means that it protects the skin from the effects of pollution, harmful bacteria, and UV exposure. 

The mantle is slightly acidic, and this is what is referred to when natural skin pH is mentioned. Its optimal pH level is between 4.7 and 6. Anything more or less means that the acid mantle's pH balance is off. If the skin is too alkaline, it will be tight, dull in appearance, and dry. On the other hand, if it’s too acidic, your skin will become pimply, red, and oily. It will usually appear greasy, react sensitively, and feel irritated. It is, therefore, important to ensure that the pH balance is not disrupted to avoid having unhealthy skin. 

An unbalanced acid mantle means that your skin’s protective barrier has been compromised. As a result, the skin is vulnerable and exposed to harmful elements such as environmental pollution. 

Note that while the mantle fights harmful bacteria, it also encourages the growth of resident bacterial flora that is useful to the skin. These bacteria fight pathogens by competing for nutrients, stimulating the skin’s immunity, and at times secreting chemicals to eliminate them. In that way, bacterial and fungal skin infections are kept at bay. 

The acid mantle is also essential in maintaining both the skin’s moisture balance and a balance of natural oils. That helps to keep your skin soft, firm, and properly hydrated. 

What is an Unbalanced Skin pH?

An unbalanced pH level of skin is anything below 4 (too acidic) or above 7 (too basic) on the pH scale. Each of these situations manifests in different ways.

If your skin is too acidic, it becomes hypersensitive. That makes it red, itchy, and prone to infections. Causes of extreme acidity include using harsh cleansers on your skin or excessively scrubbing it, even during exfoliation. When the skin is exposed to such harsh conditions, its upper layer is stripped off. That gets rid of natural oils, which help to achieve a balanced pH level in the acid mantle. 

Skin with an alkaline pH tends to appear dry and tight. An alkaline skin pH is usually brought about by the use of cleansing products such as soap and detergents. Even water, which has a neutral pH of 7, can contribute to the alkalinity of the skin. This is especially true with tap water that has a slightly basic pH of 8 in some areas. When the skin is too basic, it has unbalanced enzyme activity. That causes inflammation, which normally leads to premature aging. It also breaks down collagen, a structural protein that keeps the skin firm, hydrated and smooth. As a result, basic skin easily develops acne. 

An extreme skin pH means that the skin’s immunity is down, and conditions such as dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, and acne can easily develop. 

What Upsets Skin pH?

Factors that affect the natural pH balance of skin can either come from within the body (endogenous) or from the surroundings (exogenous). Note that pH levels may differ in different areas on your skin. Usually, non-exposed parts such as armpits and the chest have a balanced pH. Parts such as the face and arms, on the other hand, can be slightly unbalanced due to their exposure to environmental factors. 

External factors that may bring about a very basic or acidic skin pH include:

  • Harsh abrasive action on the skin either using exfoliating skin brushes or washcloths. 
  • Washing your face too many times. Also using hot water that is warmer than lukewarm to bathe or taking a shower for more than five minutes.
  • Air pollution and dirt which, on contact, can lead to an increase in the number of free radicals on the skin. Free radicals affect the functioning of skin cells, ultimately compromising their DNA and basic functions such as the production of sebum and sweat. That disrupts the makeup of the acid mantle. 
  • Harsh face and body products whose pH may not be of the same level as that of your skin.
  • Soap and detergents, which are usually too basic compared to the slightly acidic skin.
  • Sudden changes in weather conditions, which include temperature and humidity. Low temperatures and humidity both disrupt the function of the protective barrier of the skin. As a result, it becomes more susceptible to irritation and allergies.
  • Skincare products that are used to exfoliate or peel off the outer skin layer, which is also the protective barrier. 

When the skin’s balance is affected by these factors, the protective barrier may take hours to recover. Exposing your skin to these harmful conditions repeatedly can lead to skin damage. If you’re exposed to environmental irritants, pollutions, and other external factors daily, your skin will need more time to recover. The situation becomes even more critical if the pH balance is upset several times a day.

Endogenous factors that can disrupt the acidity level of the acid mantle include:

  • Biological sex, whereby men’s skin is slightly more acidic than that of women. That can be attributed to the fact that men’s skin secretes more sebum. 
  • Lifestyle, which includes dietary choices. Foods also have pH levels that can disrupt that of the skin.
  • Age, whereby newborn babies have neutral skin which becomes acidic after a few weeks. Hormonal changes over the course of your life, for instance, as a result of puberty, affects your pH balance.

Skin diseases can also affect your skin pH. Examples of skin conditions are atopic dermatitis, eczema, and contact dermatitis. Other ailments such as diabetes can also have an effect on the acid mantle. 

How Can You Maintain Your Skin’s pH Balance?

By now, it’s evident that your skin functions optimally and is extremely happy when it’s at the sweet middle spot. Your choice of skincare products and daily routine may be having a huge impact on your skin pH. The following are tips to keep your skin pH level balanced:

Use the Right Skincare Products 

Skincare products should ideally have words like “balances skin pH level” or “pH balanced.” That means the products have around a pH level of 5.5 unless otherwise specified. If skincare products sit lower or higher than that on the pH scale, this is how they will affect your skin:

  1. Low pH from 1 to 6—Skincare products with too low of a pH tend to irritate it.
  2. High pH from 8 to 14—While these skincare products may initially make your skin feel smooth, they will disturb your acid mantle and skin's pH in the long run, making your skin rough. They will also cause dryness, scaling, redness, and inflammation.

Even though the right skincare products should have a pH of 5.5, you can still choose products with a pH as high as 7 or as low as 4.5. As a general rule, slightly acidic is the most preferred option when it comes to skincare products.

Your moisturizers, toners, and cleansers contribute a lot to your skin pH. Alkaline products will not neutralize extreme acidity, and neither will highly acidic products neutralize high alkalinity. Hence, it can be hard to figure out which products have the right acidity level for your skin. Fortunately, some products indicate their pH level on their containers. If you’re unsure of the exact pH level of your favorite products, then you can carry out a pH test using litmus paper. Otherwise, you can go for mild products such as a low pH cleanser. 

Go Natural

You can also decide to go natural. Skincare products made with natural ingredients are mild on the skin and are not manufactured using harsh chemicals. Natural skincare products also contain antioxidants that fight free radicals. That keeps the cells healthy, providing enough protection from environmental stressors. Using natural remedies to restore pH balance could be your best alternative to products that upset your skin. 

Wash Your Skin Less

Washing your skin strips it of the outer layer, which includes dead cells, sweat, and sebum. That destroys the acid mantle, which usually takes an hour or two to be fully repaired. When you wash your skin too many times in a day, your acid mantle spends most of the time being restored, instead of protecting your skin. Washing your skin less keeps it intact for longer. 

Brush Away Dead Skin

Dry brushing is an excellent way to remove dead skins cells and dirt from your skin and also increase the production of healthy oils. Use a dry brush on dry skin before bathing and watch your skin become not only more even and smooth, but also more balanced.

Watch Your Diet 

The body’s internal pH level varies between neutral (7) to slightly basic (around 7.45). By having optimum body pH, your skin’s pH will also remain balanced. Body pH is highly influenced by what you eat or drink. It’s vital to stay well-hydrated all through the day. 

You’ll also need to have an inclusive diet of vegetables, fruits, and whole foods to maintain your body and skin pH. An alkaline diet that consists of antioxidant-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, asparagus, avocado, and broccoli is required for good skin. Low sugar fruits like berries, lemons, apples, watermelon, bananas, and pomegranate are also excellent. Include nuts such as chestnuts, walnuts, and almonds which are the best. Eat grains such as quinoa and seeds such as sunflower and pumpkin.

It’s advisable to follow the 20% acidic and 80% alkaline principle when choosing what to eat.

Wear Sunscreen 

Ultraviolet rays from the sun can wreak havoc on your exposed skin, damaging the cell structure. The rays can also cause burns, premature aging, sunspots, and even skin cancer. Using sunscreen protects your skin from harmful UV rays. 

Remember, balancing skin pH requires constantly following all these tips. It’s true that the skin can restore its own balance. However, how fast it does that, and what it needs to keep doing that may be the difference between healthy skin and angry, unhealthy skin. 

How Can You Test Your Skin pH?

Smooth, healthy-looking skin can be an obvious sign of a balanced pH level. But when your skin has an unhealthy appearance, it can be hard to tell on which side of the scale it is. That’s why it’s important to know how to test your skin’s pH. The good news is that you can test it right from the comfort of your home. 

First and foremost, you’ll need to buy a skin pH testing kit at a pharmacy. The kit contains strips of pH paper and a color chart. Your next step will be to place a strip of paper on your skin. The paper will react with sweat and change color. The color will let you know on which end of the pH scale your skin is. 

Other tests that can be carried out with a pH paper are the urine and saliva test. By introducing these body fluids to the test paper, you’ll get a color change that you can compare against a pH color chart. While these two tests do not provide your skin pH, you’ll get your body pH, which can be an indication of that of the skin.

Better Skin Care

A good understanding of the pH of skin gives you a chance to explore more ways through which you can keep your skin youthful, vibrant, and healthy. Once you ensure you’re using the right products, maintaining a healthy diet, and living a healthy lifestyle, it becomes easier to maintain the ideal body and skin pH. In a nutshell, all you need to do is avoid harmful products, protect your skin from external pollution, practice gentle cleansing, and incorporate a healthy diet into your lifestyle.

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Dry Brushing Skin: Everything You Need to Know

Dry Brushing Skin: Everything You Need to Know

In this post, we discuss the benefits of dry brushing your skin as well as how to do-it-yourself at home. We also discuss the history and origin of dry brushing, how to clean your dry brush, and precautions to follow when dry brushing.

Introduction

It is common to cleanse and scrub the skin with a washcloth or loofah and a rich foamy lather when bathing. But have you heard about dry brushing? In a nutshell, this skin-pampering regimen involves sweeping the skin with a dry brush to exfoliate and promote a number of other benefits.
 
Incorporating this simple step into your bathing regime can make a big difference. It’s incredibly gentle, soothing, and easy to do. 

History

More than anything else, dry brushing helps to exfoliate the skin. Exfoliation has been practiced for hundreds of centuries by different cultures, which include the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, East Indians, Native Americans, Chinese, Japanese, Russians, Turks, and Scandinavians. This was mainly achieved by mechanical exfoliation. Some of the tools used by our ancestors include corn cobs, crushed seashells, and sand. 
 
Skin brushing has been around since time immemorial. The Egyptians were said to have used dry brushing techniques thousands of years back as well as exfoliating in sour milk and wine. 
 
The ancient Ayurvedic practice of Gharsana (which means friction by rubbing in Sanskrit) also involves dry brushing and massaging certain points in the body. In Ayurvedic principles, Gharsana is believed to reduce “ama” (undigested food or emotions that manifest into a toxic and sticky substance that can extend to the gastrointestinal system and other parts of the body). Gharsana can stimulate movement in the lymphatic system, which can help increase the rate of detoxification. It is also believed that Gharsana revitalized the modern-day concept of dry brushing.
 
In a Holistic Health Report by Matthew Scott B.Ac, MA, he reinforces the Chinese perspective on dry brushing and the health benefits it can bring. Historically, the Chinese used dried fruit and vegetable (such as squash) fibers and fashioned them into sponges. He notes that regular dry brushing can help the body eliminate waste, which can be as much as one kilogram or two pounds per day. Dry brushing also assists the body’s cleansing process by activating the sweat glands and opening the pores further. It can also help relax tense muscles, especially a stiff neck, back, or shoulders.
 
The Japanese used loofahs to brush their skin before taking a hot bath to clear their skin of dead skin cells and grime. The Greeks used strigil, a sort of metal scraper, to remove dirt from the skin after they performed robust physical activities. 
 
In modern times, dry brushing continues to be part of women’s beauty routines and is gaining popularity once again. Celebrities and supermodels such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Elle McPherson and Miranda Kerr have tried dry brushing to help keep their skin and bodies in excellent condition. Luxury spas have also incorporated dry brushing in their overall pampering sessions.

Benefits of dry brushing

Here are some of the top benefits of dry brushing the body:

    1. Improves the lymphatic system’s overall condition

      The lymphatic system is where the body flushes out toxins, waste, and other unwanted debris. The lymphatic system circulates through the body and carries white blood cells that fight infections.
       
      Dry brushing is said to help stimulate the lymphatic system and enhance the detoxification process. There are about 600 to 700 lymph nodes that are positioned in different parts of the body, some of them near the lungs and heart, while others are close to the surface of the skin, for example near the armpits and groin. These nodes function as filters for the lymph and are where the production and storage of white blood cells occur.
       
      When the lymphatic system fails to function properly, waste and toxins remain trapped in the body, which can make a person sick and vulnerable to diseases. Some severe medical conditions that can affect the lymphatic system include lymphedema, where the lymph nodes are blocked and begin to swell, and lymphoma, which is cancer of the lymph caused by the excess production of lymphocytes.

      2. Minimize the appearance of cellulite

      Cellulite can give the skin a dimpled and lumpy appearance reminiscent of an orange peel and is most commonly located on the thighs and buttocks. It is more common in women than men since the layers of fat, muscle and connective tissues are different in both genders. In women, the skin and connective tissues are thinner while the fat layer is thicker. On the other hand, in men the skin layer is thicker. The thighs and buttocks are usually the areas where fat is stored in women, while for men it is stored in the abdomen. Cellulite is perfectly normal and nothing to be ashamed of. It occurs in women of all sizes and fitness levels.
       
      For those looking to address cellulite, dry brushing can help prevent the formation of cellulite and can help the skin become tighter and increase blood flow and cell renewal. While there are no scientific studies to prove or refute this claim, many find a reduction in the appearance of cellulite when dry brushing on a daily basis.

        3. Exfoliation

        Dry brushing can help remove dead skin cells. Desquamation is the skin’s biological process of shedding the outermost layer (called the Stratum Corneum). New cells positioned in the deeper layers of the skin push these old cells out which are then sloughed off. A cell known as the desmosome functions as an adhesive for the skin cells. The desmosome’s stickiness weakens as the skin cells are pushed to the Stratum Corneum. Old age, hormones, and environmental factors can affect the desmosome’s process, and can result in the build-up of dead cell layers. Exfoliation is vital at this stage to help eliminate the buildup of dead tissue.

        Exfoliation can be done two different ways: mechanical and chemical. Mechanical methods (including dry brushing) involve removing the dead skin tissues with the use of motion and abrasives. On the other hand, chemical methods use acids and solutions (toners, cleansers, peels, etc.) to dissolve dead skin cells.

        Dry brushing is a gentler, easier and more affordable way to incorporate regular exfoliation into your daily routine. If the idea of using chemical peels is intimidating, dry brushing can be a great alternative. It can be done anytime and anywhere, whether you’re at home or traveling. You really only need to invest in a dry brush once since it does not run out like chemical solutions.

        4. Aids in circulation

        Not only is dry brushing good for the integumentary system, but it’s also great for the circulatory system. The latter is the body’s vital transport system for blood, oxygen, and nutrients. Dry brushing can help improve poor blood circulation by stimulating circulation which helps keep the blood flowing.

        Other benefits of dry brushing include:

        Opens the pores;
        Develops muscle tone;
        Relaxes muscle tension;
        Refreshes the nervous system;
        Helps in digestion; and
        Relieves stress.

            How to dry brush

            Finding a dry brush

            First, you will need to buy a dry brush. Choose one that is made of soft natural bristles, such as plant fibers, animal hair, or copper. Synthetic bristles such as plastic will be too stiff and harsh for your skin. They may even cause cuts and small wounds on your skin that could become infected.

            Types of handles

            There are several varieties of handles you can choose. The most common type is a handheld brush with a strap across it allowing you to grip the brush. This allows you to easily and thoroughly access hard-to-reach spots in your body, like the back of your knees, elbows, and shoulders. It also gives you more control over the pressure you exert on the brush.
             
            Another variety comes with short and long handles. Handle measurements can range from 9 to 17 inches. Brushes with a long handle can be great for targeting the back; however, often the handles can break or detach. Overall, we recommend a high-quality handheld brush with a strap to help keep the brush in place.
             
            Before starting to brush, remove any clothing and accessories. It’s best to do this in your bathroom completely naked and just before showering or bathing.

            Brushing method

            1. It is suggested that you always brush towards the heart. Start at your feet and brush upwards towards the legs. This is believed to help stimulate the lymphatic system. Strokes ideally should be done 7 to 14 times on each portion of the skin.
            2. Next, move on to your hands and make upward sweeping strokes to your arms.
            3. Next target the neck area. Working on one side of the jawline, start from the earlobe and sweep all the way to the chin. Repeat on the opposite side.
            4. From the base of the back of the neck, sweep all the way to the collarbone. Start with one side, and afterwards work on the other.
            5. Targeting your breast area, brush with light strokes towards the heart starting from the collarbone. The pressure should be very light.
            6. Move to your belly and brush up towards the heart.
            7. Move on to your armpits and with your arm extended overhead, brush down and towards the chest.
            8. Next, start from your hips and sweep upwards to your armpits. Start with one side and repeat on the other side afterwards.
            9. Moving to your back, start from the tailbone sweeping up towards your head. Have someone help with the back for the places you can’t reach.

            Precautions

            • Stop dry brushing if you experience pain, skin irritation, or broken skin.
            • Do not dry brush areas on your skin that have wounds or infections.
            • Always dry brush on dry skin. Never wet your brush or brush wet skin during a shower.
            • Don’t store your brush in areas where it is humid otherwise moisture can accumulate. If the brush has copper bristles, the humidity can compromise the bristles. If the brush has natural bristles, the humidity can cause bacteria to grow on the brush.

            Cleaning your dry brush

            • Copper is naturally anti-bacterial, so there is no need to clean your ionic body brush in the same manner as you might clean an ordinary brush.
            • Dead skin will accumulate in the brush, so we recommend rubbing the bristles several times with a dry cloth, or tapping the brush with the bristles pointed down on a washable surface, such as a sink basin, in order to remove any skin particles. We suggest that you do this after every each use.
            • Please make sure never to wash your ionic body brush with water or soap.

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              The Lymphatic System: Complete Guide

              The Lymphatic System: Complete Guide

              In this post, we discuss the lymphatic system's many essential functions and why it is important to give it our attention. We also discuss a few easy ways to naturally detoxify the lymphatic system, including through the practice of brushing your skin with a dry brushing to encourage lymphatic flow.

              Functions of the Lymphatic System

              The lymphatic system is one of the most significant systems in the human body. A network of vessels that can be found in almost every part of the body, the lymphatic system assists in the movement of a fluid called lymph, which resides within nodes. The lymphatic system is one our body’s primary weapons against toxins, wastes, and other unwanted elements that invade our system.

              The lymphatic system has three main functions: to maintain fluid balance, to help in fat absorption, and to assist the immune system.

              Fluid is found in the tiny spaces between tissues and cells. Our lymphatic system collects any excess fluid found in these spaces and deposits them into our bloodstream. Without it, our tissues and cells would swell. Blood volume and pressure would also be negatively impacted, to the point of becoming fatal if not addressed. The lymphatic system also plays a key role in absorbing fats from the digestive system, and helps in transporting these fats to the venous circulation.

              The most notable function of the lymphatic system is to help protect the body against infections. The lymphatic system comes into action whenever other lines of defense fail such as the skin (physical barrier) and acids in the stomach (toxic barrier). The lymphatic system creates white blood cells, or lymphocytes, which travel through the body until they reach the lymph nodes. Lymph nodes become activated when they come into contact with or fight bodily infections.

              There are about 600 lymph nodes in the body, and most of them are concentrated in the neck, armpits and groin areas. You can determine whether your body is fighting an infection if you notice swollen glands, or lymph nodes, located in these areas. Lymphocytes become activated whenever they encounter pathogens or infections, communicating with each other to set off a defense response. This causes the swelling you end up seeing and feeling.

              The activated lymphocytes then travel through the lymphatic system until they reach the bloodstream, unrolling the immune response throughout the body. Immunologists call this the Adaptive Immune Response, which stays with us throughout our lives. This makes it easier for the lymphocytes to react if the same infection affects the body again. A healthy lymphatic system means a stronger and more resilient immune response against infections.

              The lymphatic system can become stagnate if it is blocked or swamped with toxic remains. As it does not have a pumping mechanism of its own, it depends on the muscles and joints to be able to move, which pushes along the fluid. If the lymphatic system is not kept in check and becomes overwhelmed, the immune system can be compromised. Warning signs of a poor lymphatic system are swollen fingers, bloating, unexplained feelings of exhaustion, constipation, and dryness and itchiness of the skin. Much worse, it could lead to cellulite build up, edema, swollen lymph nodes, eczema, arthritis, and various infections of the ears, nose and throat, as well as the respiratory system. Thus, it is very important to maintain a healthy lymphatic system.

              There is no need to worry, as taking good care of your lymphatic system does not require much work. In the next section of this post, we will discuss some simple yet effective Ayurvedic treatments to keep your lymphatic system healthy.

              Ayurvedic Practices to Keep Your Lymphatic System Healthy

              Opt For Lukewarm Water

              Drinking lukewarm water can effectively eliminate the buildup of toxins in your lymph fluid. Some of these toxins can be acquired through external means such as unhealthy food and environment. These toxins are known to be sticky and greasy by nature. Drinking lukewarm water can help dissolve such sticky buildup. As a comparison, consider how hot or warm water helps dissolve tough grease on dishes.

              Ayurveda recommends sipping warm water to gradually and comfortably flush the toxins out of the lymphatic system. Warm water is effective in hydrating and softening hardened muscles or tissues and is also effective in detoxifying gut-associated lymphoid tissues. To maximize the effectiveness, it is advisable to sip warm water every 30 to 60 minutes. Keep in mind that the frequency of sipping warm water is more important that the quantity of how much you sip. Doing this consistently and regularly will not only flush out toxins, but will also help keep your lymphatic system clean.

              Include Red Foods in Your Diet

              The digestive system can also impact the way the lymphatic system works. As mentioned earlier, lymphatic vessels are present in the digestive tract and can be easily impaired with an unhealthy diet. You can help keep the digestive system healthy by eating naturally red foods. Incorporating naturally red foods in your diet will not only strengthen your immune system, but will also reduce your chances of developing cardiovascular diseases and obesity.

              Ayurveda encourages the consumption of naturally red foods such as berries, cherries, cranberries, beets and pomegranates to stimulate an underactive digestive system. Naturally red foods can effectively alkalinize the digestive tract, making it a difficult environment for pathogens to thrive. In addition to fiber, red foods also contain enzymes and bioflavonoids that can help break down all the accumulated toxins and free radicals in your intestines.

              Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing

              The diaphragm acts as a pump for the lymphatic system. The very act of breathing aids in the movement of the lymph towards our chest. Whenever you breathe in and out deeply, you are actually stimulating the thoracic duct located at the neck area, which helps the lymph fluid move easier. Thus, it is very important that you practice proper diaphragmatic breathing in order to avoid lymphatic congestion. To do so, you need to slowly breathe in through your nose, while deeply pushing the stomach out as your lungs fill with air. It is important to keep this in mind as you want to breathe into your belly rather than into the chest region. Release the air through your mouth just as slowly. Doing about 5 to 10 repetitions of diaphragmatic breathing daily will help move lymph fluid, transport the correct amount of oxygen to the blood, and encourage relaxation. Aside from being a great way to send the body to sleep, it is also nice to practice diaphragmatic breathing outdoors after you wake up when the brisk morning air is freshest. You will be amazed by the benefits!

              Get Plenty of Exercise or Practice Yoga

              The lymphatic system also depends on body movements to maintain its flow. There are various ways in which the lymphatic system can be stimulated, such as external massages, muscle expansion/contraction, and intense exercise. Any physical movement can help avoid lymph clogging and stagnation. In other words, the more you move, the more active the lymphatic system becomes.

              There are plenty of physical exercises you can do to make sure the lymphatic system remains efficient. Any exercise that involves the legs prevents clogging of the inguinal nodes located in the groin area, while any exercise that involves the upper body such as lifting and swimming will help move fluid through the axillary nodes in the armpits. Exercises that encourage flexibility, such as yoga, also stimulate the lymphatic flow. Inversion poses, such as handstands and headstands, will reverse the typical effect of gravity, which helps move the lymph towards the heart. Twists squeeze the muscles which will help flush the lymph out of the tissues.

              Practice Dry Brushing

              Dry brushing can also positively improve the lymphatic system. The skin, being the largest organ, detoxifies and protects the body against many negative elements. There are also many lymph vessels running under the skin’s surface, which is why stimulating the skin using a dry brush can be so beneficial.

              Dry brushing is a favorite Ayurvedic practice and removes dirt, reduces cellulite, exfoliates dead skin cells, and gently stimulates lymph circulation. Not only can dry brushing stimulate the skin, it can also have a positive impact on how your digestive system and kidneys work. Most of all, dry brushing is very relaxing. Dry brushing is a simple exercise that can be practiced daily before bathing. Using a dry brush with soft bristles, brush your dry skin upwards towards the heart starting with your feet and working your way up your body. The face is much more delicate and can require a softer dry brush or a more gentle touch. You can further boost the lymph circulation by bathing in warm water afterwards.

              As a bonus tip, you may also want to consider using a dry brush with copper bristles to help boost your lymphatic system. In ancient Ayurvedic practices, it was discovered that copper ions absorbed by the skin through dry brushing with a copper dry brush supported lymphatic flow resulting in a healthy immune response.

              Conclusion

              It may be the most underrated internal system, but the lymphatic system plays a critical role in maintaining your overall health. If the lymphatic system is not kept in check, the immune system can be compromised which will negatively impact your well-being. Try incorporating some Ayurvedic practices into your daily routine such as drinking warm water, eating red foods, practicing diaphragmatic breathing, exercising, and dry brushing to help keep your lymphatic system healthy for years to come.

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              How to Get Rid of Cellulite: Complete Guide

              How to Get Rid of Cellulite: Complete Guide

              In this post, we cover everything you need to know about cellulite: what causes cellulite, natural ways to prevent cellulite from occurring, natural ways to minimize cellulite’s appearance, and natural ways to get rid of cellulite. 

              Introduction

              Having cellulite on your body is normal, but, whether you admit it or not, seeing its symptoms can definitely impact your self-confidence. Cellulite is fairly common; in fact, about 90% of women and 10% of men develop it at some point in their lives. Believe it or not, even people who are very physically fit can also develop cellulite.

              While it is obviously not a life-threatening condition, it remains an issue of aesthetic concern to many people. There is nothing wrong with having cellulite; however, you may want to reduce its appearance and learn how to get rid of cellulite.

              What is Cellulite?

              Gynoid lipodystrophy, more commonly known as cellulite, is a natural occurrence where the skin begins to have alterations in the form of lumps (or bulges) and dimples (or puckers) that give it a not-so-attractive appearance. The term was first used during the 1920s to describe an aesthetic change in the appearance of the skin’s surface; its appearance resembles that of an orange-peel skin, cottage-cheese or a mattress cover. The symptoms affect certain areas of the body, such as the abdomen, hips, legs and buttocks; the dimpling may appear small and scattered, or may also have larger indentations.

              As mentioned above, women have higher chances of developing cellulite, especially at some point after puberty. This is because women's fat cells are arranged differently than men’s fat cells. In women, the fat cells and their connective tissues are vertically arranged, whereas in men the fat cells and its connective tissues are arranged in a criss-cross structure.

              To better understand the concept, the starting point is that there are fat cells present underneath our skin. These fat cells are tethered by connective tissues (which run vertically between the fat cells) that attach the outer layers of your skin to the deeper ones. These connective tissues have pouches where normal-sized fat cells are also located. When these fat cells expand beyond their normal size, the pouches will consequently become swollen; this phenomenon is characterized by the appearance of bulges or small bumps on your skin. The connective tissues meanwhile remain attached, but become overstretched and eventually harden, which causes the skin to be pulled downwards. This phenomenon is characterized by the appearance of puckers on your skin.

              Cellulite also has stages or grades of development, as per the validated cellulite severity scale published in 2009. Grade 0 is characterized by having no symptoms of cellulite in the body. Grade 1 or mild is characterized by having symptoms of cellulite only while sitting, but none while standing up. Grade 2 or moderate is characterized by having symptoms of cellulite while sitting or standing up. Lastly, Grade 3 is characterized by having symptoms of severely raised and depressed skin either while sitting or standing up. In general, many women experience cellulite legs, cellulite on thighs, or cellulite on stomach. As discussed below, there are several options for cellulite treatment and removal.

              What are the Causes of Cellulite?

              You may be surprised to learn that the exact cause of cellulite is still not clear. Its exact manner of causation is difficult to identify as there are many processes that happen both sequentially and simultaneously, which makes the condition all the more complicated.

              The condition starts at some point after puberty and also gets more common as people age. As the skin gets thinner with age, it becomes easier for cellulite to develop and become noticeable. Additionally, lighter-skinned people have a greater likelihood of developing the symptoms.

              There is not one single root cause of cellulite, but, as discussed below, there are various factors that are linked to a person's likelihood of developing cellulite.

              1. Hormonal Factors

              Hormonal imbalance, primarily between estrogen and testosterone, plays an important role in cellulite formation. If too much estrogen is present compared to testosterone, the cellulite levels may increase. This is also one of the major reasons why cellulite is more common in women than men. On the other hand, reduction in estrogen, which is what happens during menopause, can also significantly increase the chances of developing cellulite. Imbalance between these two hormones are caused by many factors, such as poor sleeping patterns, lack of physical activity, stress and excessive physical training.

              Testosterone levels can also become lower when the liver is overburdened. Liver detoxifies the blood by removing harmful substances (such as alcohol), and it also removes estrogen from the blood. However, estrogen removal will not be the liver's priority when there is too much toxicity present in the blood. Additionally, consumption of foods preserved in lacquer-coated containers, as well as use of cosmetic products, perfumes, pesticides, and most plastics can also be a culprit, as these products contain xenoestrogens (which are estrogen-like substances).

              High levels of insulin may also contribute to the formation of cellulite, as insulin stimulates lipogenesis, or the formation of fat, in the body.

              2. Aging

              Aging does not directly influence the development of cellulite, but its biomechanical properties (extensibility, retractability and elasticity) do. In particular, cellulite tends to worsen with age as the skin loses its elasticity, muscle mass and gains more fat. In 2008, a study was conducted using 94 healthy females who were divided into three age groups of 21 to 30, 31 to 40 and 51 to 60, and into two cellulite grade groups of 0 and 2. Both the biomechanical properties and skin thickness were tested using ultrasound. The results showed that the shadowed surfaces in females under group 2 were significantly different (i.e. smaller and more numerous) after the age of 30, which showed that the biomechanical properties of the skin significantly decreased with age.

              3. Genetic Factors

              Genetics plays an important role in a person's rate of metabolism, fat distribution, and circulatory levels, all of which can affect the likelihood of developing cellulite. In addition, a study published in 2010 found that 2 out of 25 genetic variants were found (via DNA extraction) in a randomly selected group of 200 women who had cellulite. The study paved the way for the development of genetic tests (such as the CelluliteDX Genetic Test) which aim to identify a gene variant responsible for cellulite formation, as well as predict if a person is at risk for developing moderate to severe cellulite.

              4. Dietary Factors and Lifestyle Factors

              People who eat foods that are high in fat, sugar, carbohydrates and salt have a greater likelihood of developing cellulite. In addition, smoking, long periods of seating or standing and lack of exercise can also increase one's chances of developing cellulite. In addition, wearing tight clothing can limit proper blood flow which may cause or worsen the appearance of cellulite.

              Natural Ways to Reduce Cellulite

              Presently, researchers have not yet found a guaranteed solution for cellulite nor a treatment method that can perpetually reverse the condition, as cellulite is more of a structural issue within the body. A handful of expensive scientific techniques are already available today; these techniques aim to reduce cellulite appearance by altering the bands of the connective tissue underneath the skin. However, the success rate of these scientific techniques still remains questionable.

              Fortunately, there are a number of simple, natural, and inexpensive strategies as well. One thing that contributes to cellulite production is the accumulation of toxins in the adipose tissues (or the tissues used by the body to store fat), which all of us can definitely do something about. The techniques that are described below focus on the elimination of such toxins. Applying these practices regularly will not only help eliminate the toxins that cause cellulite, but will also promote a long and healthy life.

              1. Gradually increase your intake of fruits and vegetables

              Toxins accumulate in the body's cells, tissues and organs, and consuming fresh fruits and vegetables is a great way to remove those toxins. Fresh fruits and vegetables are considered alkaline-forming foods, which means that they make your body more alkaline. The alkalinity created by fruits and vegetables draws out the acidic toxins in the cells, which is caused by acid-forming foods like red meat, eggs, and other high-protein foods. Gradual increase or slow transition is considered more effective as the body cannot flush out a large amount of toxins all at once. If the increase is done abruptly, some of the toxins will just circulate again and settle in the body.

              2. Hydrate using only pure drinking water or fresh vegetable juices

              When done in combination with the above-noted practice, drinking pure water or fresh green vegetable juices can effectively flush toxins out of the body. Drinking pure water is a healthy habit especially when done first thing after waking up. For variety, adding some fresh lemon juice or slices to your water is a great option. As for green vegetable juices, it is best to consume them on an empty stomach and only when freshly prepared, as that is when it holds the most nutritional value. If green vegetable juices are consumed during or after a meal, it will be hard for the body to absorb the healthy benefits of the juice as the body will become occupied working on the excess waste from the consumed dense foods.

              3. Avoid using refined or table salt

              Usually sold in supermarkets or offered in restaurants, table salt has a lot of added synthetic chemicals. Some of these chemicals are iodide, sodium bicarbonate, fluoride, anti-caking agents, and many more. Needless to say, most commercially sold salts are culprits for dehydration and are bad for the body. Additionally, they are unhealthy and contains a lot of toxins. Sea salt and crystal salt are much better options, as these are alkaline and can provide many benefits to the body, including thyroid and adrenal function support, hormone balance support and healthy metabolism support.

              4. Engage in vigorous exercise to achieve a high heart rate

              Achieving a high heart rate by engaging in vigorous exercise is another effective approach to reducing the appearance of cellulite. It doesn't matter what kind of exercise is being performed - uphill running, interval training, swimming or any other routine - as long as endorphin rush is achieved. If that occurs, the body's metabolism will be boosted, thus burning fat. On the other hand, any low intensity exercise such as yoga or walking will not be as effective in reducing the appearance of cellulite. Of course, for those who have health restrictions, low intensity exercises are better than nothing at all.

              5. Practice regular colon cleansing

              Toxic waste materials that have been drawn out of the cells by consuming alkaline-forming foods still need to be completely removed so that they will not resettle in the body. The body's main elimination channel, which is the bowel, does just that. The body's bowel system is where a large percentage of waste materials go. However, some people may have a weakened bowel system which is ineffective at purging all toxins from the body. In such case, helping the bowel remove waste materials by regular colon cleansing, either through a home enema kit or a professional hydro-therapist, can be helpful.

              6. Practice dry brushing regularly

              Many people find that using a dry brush on their body on a regular basis leads to significant improvement in the health of their skin and a dramatic reduction in the appearance of cellulite. Brushing the skin using a dry brush stimulates the lymphatic system, which in turn helps toxins circulate and eventually find their way to the body's various elimination channels. In other words, a dry brush essentially works as a cellulite massager. It is for this reason that dry brushes are commonly referred to as cellulite brushes or anti cellulite brushes. Additionally, dry brushing is also a great way to temporarily promote the widening of the capillaries under the skin. This encourages greater blood flow under the skin surface which helps rid the body of toxins.

              Final Thoughts

              While cellulite may be a normal condition that affects many people regardless of size or gender, it may not be aesthetically pleasing to some people. Fortunately, incorporating the above habits into your lifestyle will not only keep cellulite at bay, but will also keep you healthy and beautiful both inside and out.

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              Lymphatic Massage and Drainage: Complete Guide

              Lymphatic Massage and Drainage: Complete Guide

              In this post, we discuss how our lymphatic system works, explain the nature of lymphatic massage and why it is needed and canvass the health benefits of lymphatic massage and the things to consider when performing this massage. We will also explain, step-by-step, the right technique to be used for this kind of massage and the goal of lymphatic system drainage. We will then conclude by discussing safety precautions needed for lymph drainage massage.

              Introduction

              Your lymphatic system is an important part of your immune function. In particular, it protects you from infections and diseases. A healthy and active lymphatic system maintains the fluid balance of your body and drains excess fluid from body tissues. It prevents fluid build-up in your body by eliminating toxins and other unwanted material.

              Generally, people believe that lymph massage is only for individuals suffering from certain health conditions. However, this is not true: lymph massage has an important role to play in all of our health regimes. At its core, lymph massage is a type of relaxing massage that helps you to achieve optimal health. When your lymph system functions well, you generally feel healthy and are equipped with a strong defense against illness. In addition, in situations which give rise to a lymphatic system disease referred as lymphedema, which is a fluid build-up in the lymphatic system sometimes caused by certain health conditions or surgeries, lymphatic massage is advised as a treatment measure.

              Functions of the Lymphatic System

              The lymphatic system is a collection of lymphatic nodes and lymphatic vessels. In essence, it works like a circulatory system that drains excess fluid from your blood vessels. With the help of smooth and skeletal muscles, lymph, which is a colorless fluid containing white blood cells that bathes the tissues, is pumped through lymph vessels and ultimately drains through the lymphatic system into the bloodstream.

              The Lymphatic System:

              • Removes interstitial fluid from tissues.
              • Absorbs and transports fatty acids and fats.
              • Transports white blood cells and dendritic cells to lymph nodes which in turn triggers the immune system.

              Lymphatic Drainage Massage

              Lymphatic drainage massage, also known as lymphatic massage, is a treatment procedure performed by a certified massage therapist in order to stimulate the circulation of lymph fluid in your body. This has the effect of aiding in draining lymph nodes. This improves the removal of toxins from the lymphatic system, reduces any swelling caused due to lymphedema, and helps prevent lymphatic system diseases. This massage also boosts your immune system.

              Lymphatic massage is beneficial for:

              • Lymphedema
              • Fibromyalgia or muscle pain
              • Swelling of limbs or edema
              • Fatigue or tiredness
              • Sleeplessness due to stress
              • Digestive disorders
              • Depression and anxiety
              • Recurring infections like cold and flu

              Lymphatic massage is not recommended for conditions like:

              • Congestive heart failure
              • History of blood clots or thrombosis
              • Kidney and liver problems
              • During infections
              • Malignant tumor

              If you have any existing medical condition, it is always advised to consult with your doctor before proceeding with lymphatic massage.

              How Lymphatic Massage Works

              Lymph drainage massage helps to increase the efficiency of the lymphatic and circulatory system. By removing retained fluids and toxins, lymph drainage makes you feel active and healthy. It also improves metabolic rate and immunity by improving lymphatic system function.

              In particular, lymphatic massage is beneficial in post-operative conditions. Lymphatic massage can help reduce swelling as well as speed up healing. In fact, a recent study has shown that manual lymphatic drainage helps in supporting a speedy recovery in the post-operative period.

              Benefits of Lymphatic Massage

              Lymphatic massage is a body detox therapy that offers many health benefits. Lymphatic massage is also an essential part of an optimal skincare routine because of its detoxification and esthetic benefits. In fact, a study conducted by researchers has revealed that lymphatic massage decreases pain and brings clinically significant reduction in edema.

              Lymphatic massage:

              • Is a therapeutic massage that helps to treat conditions like lymphedema and fibromyalgia.
              • Enhances your mood by reducing anxiety and depression.
              • Boosts the body’s cleansing system by stimulating the lymphatic system to naturally cleanse your body.
              • Increases vitality and your body’s circulation by removing toxins, making you feel active and energetic.
              • Brings hormonal balance.
              • Mitigates skin conditions and allergies like acne and rosacea.
              • Helps in healing after surgery by facilitating the regeneration of cells and tissues which also reduces the scarring of surgical sites.
              • Improves your immune system.

              Lymphatic massage is beneficial for everyone. If you are suffering from fatigue, low energy or reduced immunity, then this massage can help you bounce back. In fact, a study conducted to evaluate the effects of manual lymphatic massage has revealed that it improves the quality of life in patients with chronic venous diseases. Any surgical procedure involving lymph node removal can cause swelling. In such cases, lymphatic massage can help to treat the swelling. This gentle massage technique also removes waste from the body and restores vitality, which can help those with fibromyalgia.

              Lymphatic massage plays an important role in esthetics as well. When a trained beautician performs a facial, they use gentle pressure to improve your lymph flow. This clears toxin and help result in clear, healthy skin.

              How To Perform Lymphatic Drainage Massage

              Lymphatic drainage massage can be performed by a massage therapist. Alternatively, it can be performed at home by yourself by using the proper technique and ensuring that correct areas are the focus of the massage. The duration of this massage ranges from 30 to 90 minutes. It can be performed in any comfortable position, be it sitting, standing or lying down. Lymphatic massage, also known as lymphedema massage, can be performed at any time of the day, including while watching TV or as a part of your relaxation routine.

              Some tips to remember during lymphatic massage:

              • It is a gentle massage technique where pressure should be felt only on the skin. Stimulate the lymphatic vessels by stretching the skin a little.
              • Massage in the direction of the natural flow of lymph (towards the heart).
              • With relaxed hands, maintain a gentle massage rhythm to help your lymph to drain.
              • Drink plenty of water after the massage.

              Procedure

              Get into a relaxed position in a quiet room, standing, sitting or lying down, as you prefer. If you are a music lover, then try putting on some soothing music.

              Begin with lymphatic breathing

              Before you begin to massage, spend some time in deep breathing and relaxation. Take 5 to 6 deep breaths. Inhale slowly and exhale steadily. Focus on relaxing your mind. This will make the massage more effective.

              Massage the front of the neck

              Starting from the top of your body, massage both sides of the front of your neck.

              • Place two fingers at the edge of the neck above your collarbones.
              • With light pressure, massage in a manner that stretches your skin towards the sternum or towards the center of your neck.
              • Repeat this neck massage 8 to 10 times in a sitting.

              Massage the side of the neck

              You can massage one side of the neck or both sides together.

              • Place your palms against the side of your neck below your ears.
              • Gently massage towards the back of your body in a downward motion.

              Massage the back of the neck

              • Lightly place your palm on the backside of your neck just below the hairline.
              • With gentle pressure massage downwards toward the spine.

              Underarm massage

              • Hold your arm comfortably, exposing the underarm.
              • Place your palm against your underarm.
              • Gently pull upward towards your body.
              • Repeat on the other side.

              Massage behind the knee

              • Place your fingers behind the knee.
              • Gently massage with fingers behind your knee in an upward motion towards the thighs.
              • Release and repeat on the other knee.

              Upper Body Lymphatic Massage

              This upper body massage helps to drain the lymphatic fluid from your upper body parts, like the chest, shoulder and upper limbs.

              Massage your chest

              • Place your palm against the chest, on the opposite side.
              • Gently pull up towards your collar bone, and release when the skin feels tight.
              • Repeat this motion 10 to 12 times in one sitting.

              Massage your shoulder

              • Get comfortable by resting your arm on a table.
              • Place the other hand on the back of your shoulder.
              • Gently massage from your shoulder moving towards your neck.

              Massage your upper arm

              • Comfortably lay your hand on a table.
              • Take the fingers of your opposite hand and place them on the inside of your upper arm.
              • Gently stretch the skin moving outside of the upper arm and release.

              Massage full arm

              • Start with your shoulder.
              • Place your palm and stretch your skin moving the lymph fluid upward.
              • Shift the hand down and again stretch the skin upwards (elbow to wrist).
              • Continue similarly always moving the skin upward.

              Massage your fingers

              • Start from the base of your fingers.
              • Use your index finger and thumb to gently stretch and release the skin towards your hand.
              • Continue doing this to the entire finger.
              • Remember that this massage should direct the fluid towards your hand.

              Lower Body Lymphatic Massage

              The goal of lower body lymphatic massage is to move the excess fluid through lymph vessels to the lymph nodes located in the groin. Begin this massage from the top of the leg working downward. Make yourself comfortable during this massage and do not strain your back.

              Massage your upper leg

              • Place one hand to one side of the leg and another hand to the back of the leg.
              • Gently stretch and release the skin from the inside of the leg towards outside and upwards.
              • Shift your hand down and repeat the massage.
              • Once you reach the knee switch your hands and stretch the skin towards your armpit.

              Massage your lower leg

              • Just below the knee, place one hand on the shin and another at the back of your leg.
              • Stretch the skin upwards with gentle pressure.
              • Shift your hand down and repeat till you reach the ankle.
              • Stretch and release your skin with an upward stroke.

              Massage your toes

              • Place your index finger and thumb at the base of the toes.
              • Gently guide the fluid towards the foot.
              • Continue for all the toes.

              After performing the above steps, the full body lymphatic drainage massage will be complete. Make sure to drink plenty of fluid after the massage to aid in the removal of toxins from your body.

              After Effects Of Lymphatic Massage

              Lymphatic massage helps you detox and supports your overall health. It should also help relieve your aches, pains and swellings.

              1. If you have lymphedema, continue using compression socks and sleeves to prevent fluid build up.
              2. If you have fibromyalgia, this massage helps reduce stiffness and pain, improving overall wellness.
              3. It also boosts your lymphatic system, helping you stay healthy and active.

              Safety and Precautions

              It is important to understand that during this massage light pressure should be applied with a relaxed hand. Most of your lymph vessels are located just beneath the skin. Light pressure and rhythmic massage can effectively move the lymphatic fluid. The pressure should be just enough to stretch the skin naturally, so, try not to press too hard. Make sure you are comfortable and relaxed during this massage.

              • Do not strain your neck, shoulders or hands while performing this massage.
              • Lymphatic massage should not cause any pain.
              • Lymphatic massage is not advised if you are suffering from any infection.
              • If you have any pain, infection, tenderness or fever, make sure to consult your doctor.

              Conclusion

              Accumulated toxins can compromise your immunity. Proper functioning of the lymphatic system is essential for overall health and well-being. The main purpose of lymphatic massage is to drain the lymph fluid by applying light pressure.

              If you are feeling tired, facing any health conditions which result in swelling, are recovering from an injury or want to have strong immunity, try lymphatic drainage massage. It will help improve your body’s overall health and has a powerful ability to heal.

              If you are looking for a way to incorporate gentle lymphatic massage into your daily routine without committing to a 30 to 90 minute massage, give dry brushing a try. Dry brushing stimulates the body’s lymphatic system through light brushing of the skin towards the heart. You can dry brush your entire body in 3 to 5 minutes and you can dry brush every day. The health benefits of dry brushing are greatly enhanced through the use of an ionic body brush, which has its origin in ancient Ayurvedic practices. Prana Brush ionic body brushes are made with extra-fine ion-charged copper bristles, which naturally create negative ions that protect your body from free radicals and have numerous other health benefits.

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