Last week, RevBev suggested self-care as a topic.. I thought it was a great idea! I have some inexpensive suggestions for keeping your immune system healthy and for keeping your skin in good shape, too.

First, it’s important to remember that your skin is your third kidney… assuming that you already have two kidneys. Otherwise, it might be your second kidney. A great tip for both your lymphatic system and your skin is to buy a long-handled brush with natural bristles. My health food store sells them for about $10-$12. It’s a pretty inexpensive way to keep healthy. No plastic or other unnatural bristles, please! Natural bristles are good for your lymphatic system and help to exfoliate your skin… if you keep your skin exfoliated, it is better able to remove toxins from your body. In addition, if you start at your extremities and brush toward your heart, beginning with your feet and legs, then you will help to activate your lymphatic system, which does not have a pump and needs a bit of help to keep going. Don’t brush away from your heart, as that puts some strain on your blood vessels, as well as on your lymphatic system. Your lymphatic system moves toward your heart before it empties out any toxic wastes from your body. Remember that! And brush toward your heart, beginning with your lower legs and forearms. I like to start with my feet, since they sometimes bother me a bit in the mornings. You can brush straight down on your back, though. This is something you should do before you take a shower or a bath. It removes dry skin and gets your lymphatic system moving. It’s not quite like a cup of coffee, but it does help you to wake up in the morning. More like a cup of tea than coffee.

Last spring, a friend of mine was pretty sick. Her glands were swollen and all kinds of stuff was coming up… so I bought her a long-handled, natural bristled brush… and a bar of chocolate. I figured the antioxidants in the chocolate could not hurt. Later, she told me that one of her daughters wanted one, too, so I picked up another one. They both seem to love using these brushes. I’ve bought brushes for other friends, and family members, too. Following are some links you can check out, but feel free to Google for the “benefits of dry skin brushing.” Don’t read just one or two links… read a bunch of them, since they all have different emphases.

http://www.jashbotanicals.com/articles/skin_brushing.html

http://www.osmosis.com/post/80535-the-benefits-of-dry-brushing

http://store.annabellina.com/dryskbr.html

http://www.intentonchange.com/Lymph.html

http://dryskinbrush.blogspot.com/

http://www.healinglifestyles.com/index.php/jan2008-spaandbeauty-spaalacarte
There are quite a few lymph nodes in your thighs, and under your arms, and in your neck. I also brush behind the knees for some reason… and I try to brush the front of my thighs twice each time. Also, when I wash in the shower, I use one of those nylon net thingys with bar soap or a body wash and I use the same motions then, working from the extremities toward my heart. Why put any strain on either your blood vessels or your lymph nodes? The same thing when I put on body lotion… I work from the extremities toward my heart.

Nearly a year ago, I had a colonoscopy and I had no polyps. I am pretty sure that following this procedure nearly every day was part of the reason. Whenever I don’t have time to dry brush in the morning, I still work from the extremities toward my heart with that nylon net thingy… and when I am putting on body lotion.

And, another thing you can do is to take Vitamins C and D every day. Women tend to need more of Vitamin D than men do, and can usually tolerate up to 5000 I.U. each day. The more Vitamin D you take, the less calcium you need. For women this is especially important. An orthopedic surgeon told me about this protocol… and I mentioned to him that I have a hard time with supplements, because of the fillers in them. He said I could take the Vitamin D in drops, which is less expensive, and that I could take the Vitamin C in powdered form. So, I buy both at the Vitamin Shoppe, rather than my usual health food store, and I put them in about a cup of water. Both are good for your immune system and Vitamin D also plays a role in preventing certain types of cancer. I live in a northern climate and we just don’t get enough sunshine throughout the year to get Vitamin D in that way, so taking this every day is a pretty good way to keep healthy.

The Vitamin C costs about $10 and lasts for quite a while… the Vitamin D costs a little bit more, but when you consider how expensive health care premium contributions are, they are really a bargain! And The Vitamin Shoppe carries the D3 type of Vitamin D, and in a single dosage drop that equals 5000 I.U. And I just discovered that Amazon also has a less expensive version of the Vitamin D3.

Another thing I started a couple of years ago… after having all of the metal fillings in my mouth replaced… was eating coconut milk yogurt. It’s good for both your immune system and your digestive system. In countries where coconuts are plentiful, they often give coconut water to very sick children. Coconut has amazing healing properties. When I was having that dental work done, I was already skin and bones and then lost another 19 pounds, but I started eating that yogurt with every meal and I gained enough weight to look like a normal person. It also helped my absorption problem and I am no longer anemic. Now, I’m eating one a day… sometimes and extra one at night. The company that makes it, “So Delicious,” also makes ice cream and coffee creamer and they make both refrigerated and non-refrigerated versions of coconut milk. They make a soy yogurt, too, but I cannot recommend that one, since soy does not know whether it is a protein or a carb and is difficult to digest for many people. I use both almond and coconut milks for cereal or for making cocoa when the weather is cold, but mostly I use almond milk for the cocoa, and add just a little bit of the coconut milk. The coconut milk is pretty good in hot oatmeal, too. If you have a problem with saturated fats, you may wish to discuss it with a doctor first.

Coconut milk has a wonderful fatty acid: Lauric Acid, which is tremendously healthful and beneficial to your body’s immune and digestive systems. I even have longer eyelashes now that I ever had before and I think my hair has become a bit thicker, too. Coconut oil is also wonderful for your skin and hair. Here’s a link that describes its benefits, but feel free to Google for the benefits of both coconut oil and coconut milk.

Another thing I do when the weather is cold is make soup. If you were not here the last time we discussed soup recipes, here’s the link for my vegetable soup. There’s nothing that warms you in the winter like soup, and I tend to use lots of root vegetables in mine. They have a lot of trace minerals, which are important for good health. I bring it to work to share with some of my coworkers… though not right now, as the weather is a bit warm for making soup. More recently, I decided to allow  the onions to sweat in butter, rather than olive oil, since butter makes them a bit sweeter. I learned that while watching “America’s Test Kitchen.” And I also started adding green beans to my soup, since one woman at work says that green beans keep the corners of her mouth from cracking.

I also have a condition called “dry mouth,” which causes a breeding ground for bacteria. I recently changed my toothpaste to one by Jason… it’s called SeaFresh and contains some salt. Bacteria cannot live in salt, and at my last checkup, the hygienist said my mouth looked pretty good. I’m going to keep using that same brand. I am supposed to be using my hydro-floss machine every day, but sometimes I skip it. It’s a bit like a water pik, except that it alkalinizes the water, which is better for your mouth. I also drink alkaline water… mostly Iceland Spring, which is not very expensive. I pay $1.85 at the Giant Supermarket for a pretty large bottle of it. Alkaline water washes acidic wastes from your body and helps you stay healthy, too. Acidic wastes can cause disease or other chronic conditions. I read about alkaline water in a book by Felicia Drury Kliment, “The Acid Alkaline Balance Diet.” That may have been another reason for my clean colonscopy last year. You can Google for the pH factors of different bottled waters. Deer Park is neutral. Fiji water is slightly alkaline, but Iceland Spring is a bit more alkaline, and it’s less expensive, tool

What do you do to take care of your health? Do you have a special routine that you follow every day? Please share any helpful tips with us… given the health care situation in this country right now, we all benefit from sharing healthful information.