I, Julie, found this awesome site called The Lymphie Life.com and absolutely love it!! I will be reposting her blogs to share with you as well as encouraging you to go to her page to learn more about doable things you can do when you have Lymphedema.

Lymphedema and Nutrition
There are many misconceptions concerning which foods to eat and which to avoid when you have lymphedema. Some people recommend steering clear of sodium, others say protein. Some people even say to reduce fluid intake! What’s a lymphie to do!?

Have no fear – I’ve done a little research on the topic of nutrition and lymphedema and made a list of some quick facts and tips on how to treat your lymphedema by watching what you eat. Remember – I’m no doctor, so please do your own research if you have any questions or doubts.

First things first: there is no special meal plan that will make your swelling disappear or go away. However, there are certain eating habits that you can practice to promote good health, control your swelling, and help your body manage the stresses related to lymphedema.

The facts:
• No official facts state that a low-salt diet is beneficial in controlling lymphedema – however, being cautious and limiting salt intake has helped some in controlling their swelling
• Sodium is the main component of the body’s extracellular fluids, and helps carry nutrients into cells
• Sodium helps regulate other body functions, such as blood pressure and fluid volume
• Sodium works on the lining of the blood vessels to keep the pressure balance normal
• Excess salt intake causes too much water to be drawn into the blood vessels, increasing the pressure on the artery walls and causing hypertension
What you can do:
• Consume no more than 1,500-2,300 milligrams of salt per day
• Fresh fruits and veggies are a good source of appropriate amounts of sodium

The facts:
• Lymphedema is associated with the collection of high protein fluid in the tissue spaces – however, the high concentration of protein in lymphatic fluids has no connection with the protein-rich food you consume!
• Proteins are essential for rebuilding the wear and tear in your tissues and muscles
• Proteins are considered to be the building blocks of the body and play a crucial role in the manufacturing of hormones and antibodies to fight off infections
• A shortage of proteins will cause the body to take the necessary proteins from the muscles and tissues, which will further weaken the body and actually causes connective tissues to swell and your lymphedema to worsen

What you can do:
• Make sure to get your protein from a variety of sources – not just meat – and include only a minimum amount of fat
• Try easily digestible protein, such as chicken, fish, and tofu

The facts:
• Having adequate fluids in the body removes impurities from the blood
• Cutting back on fluid intake in an effort to reduce the swelling of lymphedema does not work! Instead, the protein-rich lymph attracts more fluid from other parts of the body, increasing the swelling in the affected area

What you can do:
• Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily, increasing your fluid intake in hot weather or very dry conditions
• Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which are mild diuretics and reduce the levels of body fluids

The facts:
• Excess weight gain creates more work for the lymphatic system and increases the amount of fluid in the already swollen tissues
• As more weight is gained, the fat cells in the body are enlarged while new ones are formed, meaning there is more waste to be removed by the lymphatic system
• Weight gain leads to limited mobility, which reduces the movement of the lymphatic flow and leads to stagnation and more swelling
• Weight gain can lead to other health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart problems

What you can do:
• Maintain a healthy, ideal body weight
• Restrict or avoid fatty foods or those with high cholesterol
• Increase low sodium or high fiber foods
• Replaced processed (canned or frozen) foods with fresh and raw potassium-rich foods, such as fruits and veggies
• Eat a balanced, healthy diet that includes whole grains, fruits and veggies, and fish – a healthy diet maintains the body’s immune system, which helps prevent and treat infections!
• Take vitamins and/or supplements, especially a multi-vitamin, vitamin C for collagen formation, vitamin A for increased cell development, and zinc for wound healing (talk with your doctor before you begin taking any supplements or vitamins, however!)
Sources used for this post were Living with Lymphedema at Cancer Supportive Care Programs, Nutrition and Lymphedema and Salt and Lymphedema at LymphNotes.