The lymphedema diet and what caregivers should know.
In this post last week, we talked about what lymphedema is and what caregivers can expect.
As we found out in that post, lypmhedema refers to swelling in the arms or feet due to a blocked lymphatic system.
In today’s post, we will explore what kind of diet is best for somebody with lymphedema.
The Lymphedema Diet – What you should know
If you want to help your loved one choose a diet that resolves lymphedema, pay attention to these.
Cut back on sodium
Foods that are high in salt contain a lot of sodium. The United States Centers for Disease Control recommends that an adult consumes 2,300mg of sodium per day. The average American adult consumes around 3,400mg of sodium per day.
Sodium also increases how much fluid your body retains.
When the amount of fluid the body retains in high, this increases blood pressure. And it will certainly increase the swelling or prevent swellings from resolving in a person with lymphedema.
Here are 3 tips on avoiding extra sodium in your food.
- Don’t use your salt shaker to add more salt to your food.
- Avoid or limit your fast food intake.
- Avoid already processed foods like soups and vegetables that come in a can. These contain extra salt to help with food preservation. But that extra salt can be harmful to your health.
Drink more water
This may sound counter-intuitive – however it is important in helping to resolve lymphedema.
When the body is dehydrated, the nervous system “informs” the body to retain more water.
This can lead to lymphedema not resolving or becoming worse.
Providing the body with sufficient water will also help the liver and kidneys detoxify the body better so that toxic material that build up and block the lymphatic system are flushed out.
Here are 3 tips on how to drink more water.
- If you don’t like the taste of water, cut fruit into it (limes, lemons etc) to make it more palatable.
- Drink a glass of water right after you finish brushing your teeth in the morning.
- Drink a glass of water with each of your major meals of the day.
Reduce alcohol and caffeine intake
Your lymphatic system depends on proper blood circulation so that toxic material can be carried out of the body.
Just like your water pipes at home, if the lymphatic vessels that carry toxins out of your body are blocked, or constricted in any way, they won’t carry out their function.
Alcohol and caffeine are vasoconstrictors.
This means they constrict blood vessels. When the blood vessels constrict, it prevents the movement of blood into the lymphatic system. This results in the body retaining toxic materials.
Thus, it is important to reduce or completely avoid alcohol and caffeine intake to keep the body from continuing to retain fluids.
Bonus tip – Exercise
Exercise improves blood flow to different parts of the body.
It also has the added benefit of burning calories so you can stay healthy.
Including this alongside a diet low in sodium, alcohol and caffeine will help an affected individual reduce the risk of and resolve lymphedema.
A lymphedema diet that also takes into consideration fruits and vegetables that supply the body with immune-boosting minerals and vitamins is also helpful.