10 Foods that Trigger Inflammation

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Top Foods that Trigger Inflammation

A healthful diet is an excellent way to help fight inflammation in the body. And given that inflammation is counter-productive for people combatting the effects of chronic lymphedema, it can be helpful for patients to adhere to an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle.

While embracing inflammation-fighting foods and a more healthful lifestyle are certainly important steps toward regaining control over inflammation, it’s also helpful to eliminate pro-inflammatory foods from the diet. These are foods that are generally associated with an increased level of inflammation in the body.

So what foods should you avoid in your pursuit of reduced inflammation?

  1. Trans Fats are Toxic

  2. Perhaps the worst culprit of all is a class of “foods” known as artificial trans-unsaturated fatty acids. Also known as trans fats, these synthetic chemicals (sometimes identified as partially hydrogenated oils in food labeling) are laboratory-created, shelf-stable fats that are typically solid at room temperature. They are highly unlikely to spoil. In the past, hydrogenated shortening in a can, (for example, Crisco) exemplified this synthetic food.

    Created like Frankenstein’s monster, in a laboratory, when they were first invented these substances were hailed as a better alternative to more natural, plant-derived cooking oils, which tend to spoil and go rancid after spending too much time on store shelves, or following exposure to light.

    Widely introduced in the U.S. in the 1920s—and used in everything from margarine, to packaged baked goods, to deep-fried foods—trans fats all but flooded the market for decades, in a sort of perverse, ill-advised experiment. It was an experiment that exposed millions of unsuspecting people to an artificial nutrient that had never been rigorously tested for safety. As it turns out, consumption of trans fats may have accounted for the heart disease epidemic that peaked in the 1960s. While saturated fat has often been blamed for elevated cardiovascular disease risk, it now seems far more likely that consumption of inflammation-producing trans fats was the real culprit.

    In 2003 the World Health Organization recommended that people reduce their consumption of these questionable substances to less than 1% of the diet. By 2013 the United States Food and Drug Administration finally took steps to pressure food manufacturers to reduce or eliminate these substances from the food supply. Despite the fact that we have known now for decades that these chemicals are extremely harmful—essentially toxic—food makers are still allowed to include them. In fact, FDA set guidelines in 2015 that require food makers to eliminate all trans fats from processed foods by 2018. But it’s still possible to encounter them in the food supply.

    People suffering from lymphedema should rigorously avoid any exposure to these Franken-foods. Instead, choose extra virgin olive oil, which is

  3. Simple Carbohydrates

  4. Simple carbohydrates are foods that are readily, quickly broken down in the body. When they do so, they flood the bloodstream with sugar molecules. The body responds by releasing insulin, which is then followed by a blood-sugar crash, triggering more hunger, and more overeating. Too much sugar in the blood at once can be harmful to blood vessels, and may encourage both cardiovascular disease and the development of type 2 diabetes.

    Sources of simple carbs include highly processed goods, such as white flour, pasta, cornstarch, or baked goods, such as bagels, white bread, white rice, cake, cookies, etc. Sugar itself is the simplest of simple carbs. Some experts view added sugar in the diet as a real danger to health. Instead, choose complex carbohydrates. Available in things like whole grains, complex carbs release their payload of sugar slowly, allowing the body to adjust, and keep both insulin levels and blood-sugar levels relatively steady. This avoids triggering inflammation and keeps appetite in check.

  5. Mammal Meat

  6. Intriguing research is emerging that suggests that meat from fur-bearing creatures is essentially capable of provoking an allergic-like response in humans. Allergies are manifestations of inflammation, so if true, this finding suggests that anyone wishing to reduce inflammation should consider eliminating mammal meat from the diet. This includes beef, pork, rabbit, bison, etc. Meat from poultry does not have this effect. And fish is generally considered to be an anti-inflammatory foods, due to the presence of beneficial anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids in certain species of fish.

    In any event, research has consistently shown that higher consumption of red and processed meats is clearly linked to elevated cardiovascular disease, risk, so it’s best to curtail your consumption of these foods.

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  1. As a 4th generation Homeopath, Certified Reflexologist & Massage Therapist and a Lymphedema II patient with Cellulitis, Lipedema (and a 40 years running blood clotting disorder or two) I consult with a Chinese Medical Practitioner and a Western Medicine NP when necessary. I disagree with several of the points given in this article or at least the do or die tone of it. Meat and it’s blood are very important in supporting the cardiovascular system and most fish contains mercury which messes greatly with hormones, among other things. And poultry unless absolutely organic from conception to slaughter has been proven time and time again to be cancerous. Nothing stops a flare for me faster than protein…any damn kind of protein….in particular, a hard boiled egg, a spoonful of peanut butter with turmeric or a piece of BEEF or ELK or DEER Jerky or a cup of yogurt with chia seeds, rice pudding made with milk, white rice, SUGAR and the appropriate spices to help inflammation and pain or oatmeal with the same additives. Anyway…this site is very helpful and informative although it is not the be all and end all since each individual is different and unique in their lifestyles and willingness to put forth the effort to live normally.

    1. Thank you for your input – I am just learning to deal with lymphedema in my left leg and arm. Protein is so important!

  2. There is no evidence that lymphedema is an inflammatory process. It is a lymph flow issue. Evidence based studies from Stanford and Duke physicians have shown the ketogenic diet to be effective as it burns fat and fat deposits are a real issue with lymph impairment.

    1. As a person who has had learned to manage her secondary lymphademia from stage 3c uterine cancer with 21 lymph nodes removed from the abdomen, with the trunk, groin and both lower legs affected. Diet and exercise is key. It took me 7 years to get the balance down to a science. I went from sever dysmorphia, my right leg being the size of 3 legs, Having monthly penicillin shots for the cellulitis infections, weight at at 230lbs, being wrapped daily to 147lbs no more shots, no wrapping. I can not eat more than 800 mg of salt per day. I must drink no less than 4 (20oz) bottles of water and my diet is the OMAD intermittent diet, a cup of apple cider vinegar diluted with water before bed is a life saver. I walk almost every day, but now I box, jump rope, etc. the best machine that helped me get started is the all body vibration machine, 10 min. A day twice a day.

      1. Please tell me more! OMAD diet? This has given me a little bit of hope. I had a car wreck in 2017 and my legs were crushed. My lymphedema is so awful. I’m a nurse on my feet for 12 hours. I wrap my legs but the swelling and pain is torture. I am starting the apple cider vinegar this morning before bed! I would love to know your daily diet and how you can stay at 800 mg of salt per day. Best wishes. Thanks so much!

        1. OMAD is one meal a day.
          One meal of healthy satisfying food within a short window of time. My omad can be anywhere dorm 45 min to 2 hours.

        2. One meal a day used with intermittent fasting. There are lots of books on this. My favorite author is Siim Land.

      2. I have been suffering similar issues. I would love to find out more about what you’ve done to get back to a healthy “normal” life

      3. Hey Shawna,

        I know this is an old post but I was hoping that you could provide me with more specifics on how to help with my lymphedema.

  3. The “research” article you linked to is indeed from the Harvard website, but it is an opinion piece and not a report of research. Further, Dr. Frank Hu is a professor in the Nutrition and Epidemiology in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. Epidemiology is observational research and a lower form of evidence. There are many higher level research projects that have been published in peer reviewed journals that show that a diet very low in carbohydrate and high in fat (yes, even animal-sourced fats) results in very healthy outcomes. Here is a resource for randomized controlled trials, meta-analyses, systematic reviews and other citations in the growing body of evidence that a healthy diet can include meat: https://www.neslazeno.cz/references/

  4. I suffer with Lymphedema and cellutus in both legs and some of these statements I don’t agree with and some are good,I do some gluten no white flour sugar potatoes and I do eat a lot of green veggies but my legs hurt day and night..

  5. I have recently been diagnosed with lymphedema moderate to severe. I’ve never had cancer. I think it’s caused by a prolapsed bladder? My legs will become two to three times their normal size and my hips will still remain small. I look like a super hero will extremely built legs untill you look at my ankles and feet. I’m trying to keep a humorous side to this. Otherwise I think it will do me in.

    The pain is unbelievable. I now get horrible blisters on the bottom of my feet. It makes it even more difficult to walk. My three children are grown, thank goodness, but not always available to help me.

    Thanks for the info. The article was informative thank you. Your Comments very helpful as well.

    I’d love to hear more from everyone. What works for you… etc etc etc.

    My lymphedema is out of control. I am not under a doctor’s care yet. The ER diagnosed me. However, feeling so horrible makes it difficult to drive myself to an appointment.

    1. Dear Shelly MC,
      Lymphedema and cellulitis is nothing to ignore. In fact it’s dangerous to do so. No matter how you feel, you have to pick yourself up and get yourself out the door to a proper specialist and begin to take control of this disease. There are several good ideas here, but it is important that you are under The care of a specialist in this field. In my area that wasn’t easy to find. I recommend that you start with a hospital based rehabilitation therapy site for the best advice.

    2. Dear Shelly MC,
      Lymphedema and cellulitis is nothing to ignore. In fact it’s dangerous to do so. No matter how you feel, you have to pick yourself up and get yourself out the door to a proper specialist and begin to take control of this disease. There are several good ideas here, but it is important that you are under The care of a specialist in this field. In my area that wasn’t easy to find. I recommend that you start with a hospital based rehabilitation therapy site for the best advice.

  6. I almost died from severe lymphedema in my legs .They were leaking so much everything was soaked in a minute. I went to several doctors and hospital the one hospital made it worse. I had cellulitis and sepis infection. The doctors wouldn’t help me. They finally sent me home to die. I praise our Lord He had mercy on me and after I was home I had prayed before I went to the hospital God would allow me live . Praise the Lord he did hear my prayers as He always does and at home I started getting better. Im now bedfast and cant move on my own but im here with my family thst needs me. Now my lymphedema has returned and i have a small open place on my thigh it is leaking. I don’t have a Doctor any suggestions to get everything under cobtrol. I have a rare 3 rype vasculitus disease too Thanks God bless

    1. my husband is going though of what you went though with leaking big sores and his pant leg would be wet in minute. what did you do i am so scared for him

    2. dear jesus i speak believe and declare healing for every part of vickie’s body. you died on that cross not only for our sins but for every sickness. i pray that you are “born again” by the spirit of god according to the book of john “verirly verily i say unto you a man (or woman) must be born again to enter the kingdom of heaven. I believe in miracles and have had them happen to me. Father I am expecting a miracle for Vickie.

  7. Vickie,
    Please get help as soon as possible. I hit my leg and a small puncture wound turned into a 6 month nightmare, with lymphedema in both legs and cellulitis. Lymphedema may have already been in the making and the wound caused it to flare up and worsen.
    I went 2 months to a hospital wound clinic that only made it worse. The drainage kept the skin so wet it would not heal and cellulitis set in. IA vein specialist told me they used the wrong kind of compression bandage. It came on a toll and was cut like an open ended sock that pulled on. I should have been bandaged with a wrap around bandage with a Velcro strip on one end to hold it in place, which is washable and reusable.
    I was hospitalized at a different hospital twice and given IV antibiotics for cellulitis. The hospital recommended a wound clinic from a medical college hospital. I saw a wound specialist surgeon and she recommended a
    Lymphedema Specialist at the same medical college hospital, which has several buildings and doctors offices. I think I am finally getting somewhere. I go to that appointment next week.
    Don’t waste time with a regular general practitioner or even some specialists. A vascular specialist would be the exception, and may want to do a vein study. Best bet is a lymphedema specialist. They will get you the right kind of bandaging and treatment so the disease is manageable.
    Elevate your legs above your heart so the fluid drains towards the heart and kidneys and is excreted as urine. Even the hospital didn’t do this right. You can lie on the sofa and put your feet on a sofa arm with a pillow on the sofa arm and it will raise your legs to about the right height. Try to cushion the bend of the knees
    so your knees don’t get stiff and sore. A wedge can also be used on your bed but I have not purchased one yet. Amazon or a medical supply store would have them.
    Another thing. to. Insider is at a medical college facility you may be able to get help with your medical expenses. I saw this on the registration paperwork at my appointment yesterday. Don’t make the same get better, get worse mistakes I did. It’s been a 6 month nightmare for me and I don’t want this to happen to you.
    I have been amazed at how little is known about lymphedema by so many medical doctors and wound care nurses. Please get to a lymphedema specialist at a medical college hospital facility before you get worse. I am staying with my son and his family until I better, at the hospital doctor’s request.
    I wish you all the best.

  8. I dilute Apple cider vinegar w water and drink in the morning and night, I put my feet up from my bed on the wall and lay like that as long as I can, morning and night. The last meal I eat is about 5 – 6 o’clock and then drink and drink I try to read when I drink and or the computer when I drink so I wont stop till I finish the whole bottle about 34 oz. I wear compression stockings all day, exercise and swim 3 times a week. my feet are not as swollen. I do not know why I got lymphedema. a wound smear with vitamin E which is a healer. I open a pure vitamin E capsule.

  9. I was diagnosed secondary lymphedema after cancer treatment, i had a radical hysterectomy and 30 lymph nodes removed, i now have lymphedema in my abdomen, groin, and both legs.
    managing this disease is a full time job if i dont want to let it overtake me. Ive always been extremely healthy and fit, fat is the worst possible thing i can put into my body in terms of lymphedema pain and swelling – the Keto diet would not work for my lymphedema at all.
    i have had to cut out dairy completely, trans fats are the absolute worst of all the fats, and fatty meats are a no go. i can have as much avocado as i want though with no side effects and a very small amount of extra virgin olive oil. I have also cut out processed sugar using honey instead. artificial sweeteners are another thing that are extremely toxic for me even the natural ones.
    Carbohydrates are fine for me, even white flour – but i do buy organic flour now.
    i use a pump everyday 2 hours a day, i wear compressions leggings everyday and night garments, i weight train 4 days a week, and the vibration plate helps to dislodge stubborn fluid, and i dry brush every morning. ive reduced my swelling to almost nothing following this plan. now its just maintenance, and if i stick to the diet the pain has reduced significantly.
    my stomach can gain up to 5cm a day but after i pump 2cm comes off straight away and the rest overnight.
    hope this helps anyone new to lymphedema x

  10. I’ve always been the epitome of health before that and have always eaten insanely healthy
    I was diagnosed with lymphodema within 2 weeks after getting the COVID-19 vaccine!

    1. I believe you – I know of two very healthy individuals in their 50’s who died of heart related issues after the 3rd booster shot. Glad I didn’t do it – I have my plate full of other health issues and don’t need a serving of something else. I got COVID, having asthma issues, and recovered wonderfully with a monoclonal antibody infusion. Even those who have the COVID vaccine are getting COVID.

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