The manner in which blood runs through our body is mostly known to everybody. The lymphatic system works almost the same way, but many people are not aware of this. The only difference is that instead of blood going through veins we have lymph moving through specialized passageways that are similar to veins.
Thanks to lymph nodes, our body is protected from infections. In addition to that, they also collect cellular waste that needs to be removed from our body. In cases where our lymph nodes are damaged or eliminated in some regions of the body, that area will be unable to drain waste.
As a result of this, we have swelling in parts of our arms or legs where this happens. This condition is lymphedema. Unfortunately, this condition doesn’t have any known cure at the moment, but there are many ways which we can manage it. As is frequently the case, the most effective methods are the simplest ones, and they include different life changes as a way of managing lymphedema.
Risks for Lymphedema
The good news is that primary lymphedema is very rare, but on the bad side, it can be inherited. The most common form of this condition is secondary lymphedema. The most common causes are infection, cancer, radiation treatment, and surgery. You will be at risk of having secondary lymphedema if you have cancer or have undergone cancer treatments. Also, the risk of developing lymphedema increases with age. Other factors that can contribute to this problem include excess weight, psoriatic arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Lymphedema Dietary Changes
The lymphedema diet revolves around choosing foods that do not promote swelling. The primary thing you need to avoid is sodium, as salt increases fluid retention. The fluid retention is always accompanied by high blood pressure, and these two things combined make the swelling worse, which is not a good thing for those with lymphedema. If you have this condition, you need to do everything in your power to avoid foods such as condiments, packaged foods, and fast food.
Staying Hydrated for Lymphedema
The most common misunderstanding with lymphedema is that if you need to avoid fluid retention to make the swelling less of a problem, you need to avoid drinking water. But staying hydrated is very important, as your body needs the balance that comes with water. When you are dehydrated, your brain will send signals to your body to retain water. If you take in healthy levels of water, you will help your body push sodium out.
If your body retains water, swelling will be worse, but the solution is not to drink less water. What you can do to prevent fluid retention is avoid alcohol and caffeine. Both substances dehydrate your body.
One of the ways to reduce the effects of this condition is to exercise. This will help, because working out improves your circulation. Before starting your exercise routine, you need to warm your affected limb by putting it under warm water. Many common exercises are great for patients that have lymphedema. The one that people with lymphedema in their arms frequently use is elbow flexion.
Elbow flexion is the curling motion that you see when someone is weightlifting with one arm. It consists of slowly lifting one hand towards your chest. After you reach your chest, hold your arm still for five seconds when you are halfway down to the original position. You can do this both with weights or without.
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