Does Diet Affect Lymphedema?

Does Diet Affect Lymphedema?

There are many controversies surrounding the effect of diet on lymphedema. One thing is for sure though, being overweight will not do you justice if you have lymphedema. This is because the extra weight will press down against the affected limbs. Anyways, there is no specific diet for a person living with lymphedema, but it is important to avoid certain foods that may not agar well with the condition. In addition to that, make sure you include foods that will help control swelling, maintain the body’s overall fluid balance and promote good health. In respect to eating well, you should also exercise and stay active so as to shed off any excess weight.

Nutrition And Lymphedema

Proper nutrition is of importance to a person living with lymphedema as it helps improve lymphedema symptoms. As far as what types of foods you should eat is concerned, there are those you should eat regularly, those you should eat moderately and those to avoid. Well, it is important to watch what you eat and although there are recommendations on the types of foods to eat, do not limit yourself to a diet that will do you more harm than good. This especially applies to diets that inhibit the intake of certain foods and nutrients as well as crash diets. The best advice is to eat a well-balanced diet that incorporates various foods that are rich in different valuable nutrients to the body.

The Effect of Different Foods And Components on Lymphedema

Everyone has their own view on what to eat and what not to eat if you have lymphedema. For instance, an individual may be advised to avoid sodium, proteins, and fluids and so on. Well, how correct or wrong are these notions?

Sodium is not directly linked to managing lymphedema; however, reducing the intake of sodium can help with the swelling. Sodium plays an important role in the body as it’s a major component of the body’s extracellular fluids. It also helps with transporting essential nutrients into tissue cells. Other than that, sodium helps regulate blood pressure and fluid volume. However, excess sodium intake can lead to increases pressure leading to hypertension and increases water retention in the body. The latter can worsen a case of lymphedema as the body retains more fluids than it should.

Although, proteins have been associated with lymphedema cases, it is important that you do not limit protein intake. This is because they are the building blocks of the body which help in repairing damaged tissues. Proteins are essential to the body in various ways and reducing protein intake could cause fluid to leak into your tissues from the bloodstream. Other than that, protein shortage in the body can weaken the muscles and tissues leading to swelling of connective tissues. This, in turn, could worsen a lymphedema and cause other complications with your body.

Lymphedema is regarded as an accumulation of fluids and proteins in the tissues. Although water increases your body fluid levels, do not limit fluid intake. As a matter of fact, drinking adequate amounts of water will be essential in maintaining a good balance of fluids and chemicals in your body. Staying hydrated also helps enhance basic cell function and removing any harmful substances from the body. Avoid liquids such as alcoholic beverages, caffeinated drinks, and other diuretics which lead to dehydration.


There might not be a defined diet for lymphedema, but you could maintain proper nutrition for overall health benefits. In addition to limiting sodium, taking enough proteins and staying hydrated, make sure you eat whole foods such as vegetable and fruits. Green leafy vegetables, beets, citrus fruits, berries, bananas, beans, sweet potatoes, and whole grains are ideal foods to include in your daily eating schedule. Avoid fats, sugars, grains containing gluten, and processed foods. Take foods rich in fiber and vitamins (or supplements) which will help with infections if any. Eating right will help you keep your weight in check and do not have to worry about excess weight which may worsen a condition of lymphedema.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 31, 2018

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