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Fruits and Vegetables

We are told that there is no specific diet for lymphoedema and taking vitamins and minerals will not help.  However, I passionately believe in personal choices and encourage you to make your own healthy choices.

Every popular diet has been debated by our support group members at some point.

Personally, I detest the word "diet," and many of our members feel the same way. Instead, we would like to focus on healthy living and the small changes that can have a big impact.

Weight management – Stabilise your weight


If you have lymphoedema, you may know that being overweight can make your condition worse by putting more pressure on your lymphatic system. That's why it's important to find the right weight for you and stick to it, instead of going up and down. If you are overweight, maybe you can think of some ways to start changing that, or at least try to keep your weight steady and not let it go up. Your therapist recognises the challenge of maintaining a healthy weight and can assist you in doing so. 

There is no specific diet for Lymphoedema

It takes 20 minutes for the stomach to tell the brain it is full

Vitamin D

It is utilised to absorb calcium and other minerals and to deposit those elements in our bones and teeth, keeping those structures strong and healthy. Additionally, there is mounting evidence that adequate vitamin D intake can reduce the risk of falling. Together, these two advantages show that vitamin D can lessen the risk of bone fractures.


Sugar plays a part in increasing inflammation.

Inflammation leads to an increase in lymphoedema swelling causing damage to the tissue and possibly infection.  Check out the list of hidden sugars you will find in packaged foods.

Three columns 1st column list of hidden sugars. 2nd column the effect of sugar on lymphoedema. 3rd column how to cut down on sugar.



Does drinking alcohol affect lymphoedema in any way? Advice previously has always suggested that alcohol may increase swelling. There isn't any concrete proof that drinking causes lymphoedema to worsen.


However, restricting consumption is generally considered to be excellent health advice because alcohol consumption has several health hazards. Additionally, alcohol has a lot of calories, which may make it harder to keep a healthy weight, which is known to be crucial for managing lymphoedema effectively.


(Source: BLS News and Views, Issue 129).

Five A Day


Following NHS Guidelines five portions of fruit and vegetables a day

  • more chicken and fish, especially oily fish

  • more high-fibre foods (whole grain cereals, seeded or granary bread)

  • less red and processed meat

  • less saturated fat (pastries, samosas, cheese)

  • less salt   


In many European countries it is recommended you eat seven portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

Al Fresco


  • Not always easy in the UK but when you can eat outside in your garden or favourite open space.

  • Get that much needed vitamin D from the sun.  Just make sure you don't get sunburnt.

  • If there are insects around light a citronella candle to keep them away.

  • Invite friends around, make it a social occasion.

Plant-based diet

Helps to support your immune system, keep your cells healthy, your body in balance and fight off infection.  Read more...

Description of plant-based diet and types of vegetarianism


Please Note:  All the research for this Healthy Eating page was taken from NHS websites on Lymphoedema, Live Well Eat Well, and the British Heart Foundation, links will take you directly to those websites. 

Ultra-Processed Food


We hear a lot about the dangers of ultra-processed foods and how they are bad for our health and well-being. Do you become confused? I know I do. This is my simplistic interpretation of how I believe foods are classified. Please keep in mind that I am not an expert, and the visuals I've selected are only a few examples from each of the four categories.

  • Unprocessed or minimally processed

  • Processed Ingredients

  • Processed Foods

  • Ultra-Processed Foods

Produce such as eggs, fish, fruit, nuts, pulses, seeds, and vegetables will have no added ingredients and therefore are not processed. 

Eggs, fruit and vegetables, fish, milk, steak, nuts and seeds on white background.


Oils, salt, sugar and vinegars are the processed ingredients we add to food when cooking at home.

Oils and vinegars, salt, honey, sugar and butter on white background.


Foods such as white bread, tinned fruit and vegetables, jams, and pickles are processed foods.

Bacon, bread, cheese, ham, salted peanuts, canned food fruit and vegetables plus jar of jam. on white background.


Ultra-processed food is defined as any food that is not cooked or created from scratch at home. Chemicals, colourings, and sweeteners are added to foods purchased to improve their look, flavour, or texture.

Cake, breakfast cereals, crisps, white sliced bread, ready-meals and fizzy drinks on white background.


When shopping, check the food labels; on average, ultra-processed foods include five extra substances. Artificial colours and flavours, emulsifiers, preservatives, and sweeteners extend the shelf life of ultra-processed meals. As a result, we're unlikely to use these additions to home cooking. This means that the foods are ultra-processed, which is why cooking from scratch at home is always the healthier option.

What are the health risks of eating ultra-processed foods?

  • Higher risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack or a stroke

  • Anxiety and depression

  • Obesity

  • Sleep problems

  • Type 2 diabetes

The question we must ask ourselves is whether the foods we eat exacerbate our symptoms. Healthy eating is about personal choice. Each of us who lives with lymphoedema wants to improve our overall health and our immune systems. Look for triggers that increase swelling, are there days when you are more tired than usual? Is the food you're eating making you unwell? Only you can tell.

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