Day 18 – the final 3 detox pathways

Lymphatic System

Yesterday didn’t go so well. I’m blessed to have cleaning ladies here every two weeks and they turn my house from chaos into calm in 2 to 3 hours. It’s a minor miracle and I love them. However, when they were cleaning my office yesterday they accidentally tweaked a chord and my screen died. It took me the rest of the day to figure out what had happened and by the time I did, it was time for bed! I’ll know for next time.

Anyway, I didn’t get around to writing a blog post and several other things. However, I did experiment with a new recipe which you’ll see at the bottom of this post and I think you’ll be glad that I cooked instead of typed!

Today we’re going to look into the last three detoxification pathways of the body – the white blood cells, the lymphatic system and the spleen.

The white blood cells
White blood cells, or leukocytes, are cells of the immune system involved in defending the body against both infectious disease and foreign materials. Five different and diverse types of leukocytes exist, but they are all produced and derived from a stem cell in the bone marrow.

The function of white blood cells is to digest and break down all foreign elements including toxins, dead cells, cellular wastes, bacteria and impurities in the blood. In order to fulfill this role, they congregate in the lymphatic tissues (the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus gland) and in special clean-up sites in the liver and small intestine.

The number of WBCs in the blood is often an indicator of disease. There are normally between 4×109 and 1.1×1010 white blood cells in a litre of blood, making up approximately 1% of blood in a healthy adult. An increase in the number of leukocytes over the upper limits is called leukocytosis, and a decrease below the lower limit is called leukopenia. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_blood_cell)

Many vitamins, minerals and herbs can activate these white blood cells to serve us better:

  • Vitamin C helps your body create white blood cells. Consume 250 mg  daily from citrus, strawberries, melon, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, papaya, mangoes, broccoli, potatoes, cabbage, green and red peppers, rose hips and the herb amla.
  • Zinc contributes to the formation of white blood cells and is part of the enzymes that repair your skin and allow your wounds to heal. Consume 20 mg of zinc daily from pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, garlic, turnip, split peas, potatoes, lima beans, seafood, mushrooms, eggs, wheat germ.
  • Vitamin A aids in the synthesis of a specific white blood cell called a lymphocyte. Lymphocytes directly attack foreign invaders and help your immune system produce antibodies, which attack potentially harmful substances and protect your body from infection. Adults should consume 5000 IU daily. The best sources of vitamin A include butter, cream, egg yolks, fish liver oil from cod, salmon, halibut.
  • Vitamin D decreases the rate at which white blood cells are destroyed and removed from your body. This decreased rate of destruction does not affect the rate at which white blood cells are created, however. Instead, the decreased destruction rate allows your body to increase its white blood cell count, increasing your immune system’s ability to fight off infections. Adults require 800 IU of dietary vitamin D every day, depending on their age and sunlight exposure. Dietary sources of vitamin D include fortified milks (dairy, soy, rice, almond) and fish oils. (Source: http://www.lef.org/)
The lymphatic system
The lymphatic system is the part of the immune system comprising a network of conduits called lymphatic vessels that carry a clear fluid called lymph unidirectionally toward the heart.
This is the body’s sewage system, draining toxins from every corner of the body and because of its physical proximity to many tissues of the body, it is the system responsible for carrying cancerous cells between the various parts of the body. The intervening lymph nodes (full of filters and lymphocytes) can trap the cancer cells. If they are not successful in destroying the cancer cells the nodes can become inflamed and may become sites of secondary tumors.
A healthy immune system requires that the lymphatic system is draining freely and not overloaded with toxins. The vitamins and minerals outlined above to support the leukocytes are critical for the immune system. Other techniques that assist lymphatic circulation include:
  • lymphatic drainage massage techniques can be practiced (there are specially trained RMT in your area),
  • exercise is critical because it keeps all of the bodily fluids circulating optimally – rebounding on a small trampoline is especially beneficial – focus on movement of the arms, armpits and chest
  • dry brush massage (using a long-handled, natural bristle brush, brush in a circular motion towards your heart over every part of your body starting with the soles of your feet) in the morning when you arise,
  • alternating hot and cold showers,
  • going braless (see blog post on my experiment).

The spleen
Located behind and slightly below the stomach, the spleen is a fist-sized organ filled with macrophages which are white blood cells whose function is to digest bacteria, foreign particles and old red blood cells.

The spleen is a powerful filter of blood poisons (it is the largest mass of lymphatic tissue in the body) and can store blood for us to be released as we need it. Blood purifying herbs activate the macrophages and help them to do their job of devouring toxins. These include burdock root, goldenseal and echinacea.

The white blood cells in the spleen can be compromised by stress and periods of relaxation are essential. Sugar and excessive sweets are recognized as harming the spleen. Limit the use of ALL sugars.

I hope that you have found the information this week on the detoxification pathways to be very interesting and helpful in your understanding of the healing powers within our bodies. Now on to the delicious part of the blog – supper!

Pumpkin Gnocchi (from Canadian Living, Comfort Foods 2011)

This takes 1/2 an hour to prepare, so Saturday is the perfect day to prepare this dish that everyone can help with.

2 cups roasted pumpkin puree (I used a can of pumpkin puree this time – but have made using a roasted butternut squash)
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3 cups spelt flour (next time I’ll try making this gluten-free with some chick pea flour)

In a large bowl, stir together pumpkin, cheese, egg, salt and nutmeg. Using wooden spoon, stir in 2 cups of flour, Stir in enough of the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, to make soft, sticky dough that pulls away from bowl but still sticks to spoon and fingers.

On well-floured surface and with floured hands, roll dough into a log – divide into quarters. Gently roll and shape each quarter into 3/4 inch diameter rope. With sharp, floured knife, cut each rope diagonally into 3/4 inch pieces.

In large pot of boiling, salted water, cook gnocchi in 2 batches. Stir gently until they start to float (they literally pop up to the surface) – takes about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, scoop onto large serving platter.

Meanwhile, make the spinach basil pesto – this is a standard in my house. I make up a big batch and freeze it in ice-cube trays. Then its an easy pasta topping after school or on the run.

Spinach Basil Pesto (Refresh, p. 105)

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 bunch fresh basil, stems removed
2 cups chopped baby spinach

Blend the garlic, salt, pine nuts, sunflower seeds and olive oil in a blender until smooth. Mix in the fresh basil and spinach and pulse until smooth.
To serve, you can either put a dollop on top of the gnocchi – but it’s room temperature, so I usually toss the gnocchi in the pesto sauce and serve with a sprig of basil on top and some grated Parmesan cheese and pepper.


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