Food tips to be more lymphoedema/lipoedema wise
When it comes to Lymphoedema or Lipedema the saying “We are what we eat” rings true. When you have a medical condition, food can be just as important as medicine and can help your body deal with complex conditions. Food and more importantly the nutrients in your food can help reduce inflammation, assist with moving lymph fluid through the body, and so much more.
It is well known and researched that alcohol, diuretics, caffeine and processed foods can have an adverse effect on the body so it makes sense that it can also adversely affect someone with Lymphoedema. Our body functions just like that of any machine. The efficacy of the fuel essentially depends on how easily it burns. For example, the kind of gasoline used for a regular automobile is different from the one used in a race car or an airplane because of how easily it burns. (Sadhguru).
Alcohol is said to be vasodilator, meaning that it dilates the blood vessels and so allowing more fluid and molecules in the tissue. With a lymphatic system already overwhelmed, it would be wise to avoid drinking alcoholic beverages. Coffee is basically a diuretic and can dehydrate the body. For this reason, you need to avoid it and drink more water. Consider that the body is made of water by 60 to 80%. Should you not drink enough water, your body would retain it to get its quota to function optimally. Diuretics would also basically dehydrate the body. Their function is to stimulate the kidneys. You may pass more water but the body will retain protein attracting fluid in the tissue.
Lymphoedema is what we call a “high-protein, low-flow oedema”. This means that a kind of protein attracting fluid leaks from the blood vessels into the tissue and has nowhere to go and pools in the area where the lymphatic system is compromised, for example where lymph nodes have been removed during life-saving cancer surgery. Therefore, the kidneys are stimulated to remove the excess fluid and the proteins stay in the tissue attracting more fluid – but this does not mean that you need to reduce your intake of protein. Protein is a generic name and your body needs some types of proteins which are the building blocks of our body and are necessary for body repair.
Other foods can exacerbate lymphoedema/lipoedema because of the way they are processed and because of the additives or high salt they contain. That would include food with added sugars, refined grains, and chemically modified fats. (Medical, 2021). These foods are processed meat such as ham, salami, bacon, savory snacks, cakes and biscuits as well as sausage rolls, ready meals and dairy products. So you need to be selective in what you eat. Home-made meals are ideal and I suppose it can be difficult for some people due to time constraints. Cooking in quantity and freezing is better than buying ready meals.
What can we eat that would help rather than hamper the lymphatic system? I would suggest eating more fruit and particularly more citrus fruit because they have a high content of bioflavonoids. A Russian study (Sishlo, 2013) suggests that bioflavonoids maintain the balance of fluid exchange in the tissue. They offer many benefits to the body as they have antioxidant, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor properties. You can read one of my older blogs here for the best sources of bioflavonoids. Fruit and vegetables are absorbed very quickly by the body. For this reason, you may feel hungry two to three hours after a meal. Feeling hungry is good because it means that the body is not burdened by slow burning fuel. For this reason, and because proteins are also the building blocks of our body, I would suggest a diet similar to that created by Juliet George with the 1:4 ratio diet formula from her book on “Diet for lymphoedema”. Of course every person's body is different - we process foods differently, have intolerances, and lifestyle factors into it - so diets to manage lymphoedema may differ from person to person. If you would like some guidance please reach out.
Try to buy fruit and vegetables which are in season and ripened. The riper your fruit, the less salicylates and the more bioflavonoids. Salicylates are basically preservatives. This is why fruit and veges found in supermarkets look good but are usually still green inside. Very little of our food is truly “natural” and even the most basic crops are the result of some form of human manipulation (Borrel, 2018). For this reason, it is best to visit your local grocer.
I would not be able to finish this blog without mentioning that having a stable diet, in opposition to a yo-yo diet, is very important particularly for lipoedema. This is because every time you diet, particularly using a food restrictive diet, you may lose weight and your body will metabolise fats more likely in the critical areas when returning to a normal diet. The amount of food and the ratio of each type of food is important as well as eating a balanced diet. You need to keep your body weight stable and in the normal range if possible because being overweight and obesity are known risk factors for the development of lymphoedema and complications with the management of lymphoedema (Provan, 2019).
Fruit will keep you alert and awake, and one can know an extreme sense of joy and deep pleasure when eating fruit (Sadhguru). Just when the caterpillar believed its life was over… it became a butterfly.
I can help you with a complex treatment for lymphoedema and lipoedema and refer you when necessary. Don’t hesitate to give me a call. We can discuss your options during a lymphatic drainage massage and you can become a butterfly sooner than later.
Borrel, J. (2018, March 16). All our food is ‘genetically modified’ in some way – where do you draw the line? Retrieved July 18, 2021, from Cornwell Aliance for Science: https://allianceforscience.cornell.edu/blog/2018/03/food-genetically-modified-way-draw-line/
George, J. (2007). Diet for lymphoedema. Lansvale NSW: Poppy Lane Skin Care & Lymphoedema Clinic.
Medical, P. A. (2021). Can Dieting Improve Lymphedema Symptoms? Retrieved July 17, 2021, from Medical, Post Acute: https://postacutemedical.com/company/company-updates/can-dieting-improve-lymphedema-symptoms
Provan, D. (2019, December 4). Body weight and the management of lymphoedema. British Journal of Community Nursing , 24(12). doi:https://doi.org/10.12968/bjcn.2019.24.12.576
Sadhguru. (n.d.). Why a Fruit Diet Is Good for You & the Planet. Retrieved July 18, 2021, https://isha.sadhguru.org/global/en/wisdom/article/fruit-diet-good-for-you-planet?
Sishlo, V. M. (2013). [Mechanisms of antioedemic effect of bioflavonoids in experiment]. Retrieved July 17, 2021, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23863788/