Controlling the Symptoms of Secondary Lymphedema: Does the Ketogenic Diet Really Work?

This post is going to be personal for me, as I have secondary lymphedema in my left leg and foot. It started shortly after my daughter was born and I had significant damage and infections in my lower abdomen that required surgery and a long healing process, but that is for another post. March is Lymphedema Awareness Month and so this post is to understand why a ketogenic diet can truly help those dealing with lymphedema.

For sufferers of secondary lymphedema, it can be hard to find management strategies that provide noticeable results. In the struggle, however, there is one treatment option that has seen increased interest over the past few years – the ketogenic diet. While formal research is still lacking as to whether the diet itself has any direct beneficial effects for sufferers of secondary lymphedema, there are several first-hand accounts that suggest adhering to the ketogenic diet may help alleviate certain symptoms.

So, what is the ketogenic diet? Much like the Atkins diet, the ketogenic diet (or simply, the keto diet) is a low-carb, high-fat, and adequate-protein diet. While the diet is more traditionally prescribed as an alternative treatment for children with epilepsy, it is currently being considered as a potential treatment for several additional conditions, including secondary lymphedema. Though varying successes have been reported by secondary lymphedema sufferers who have tried the diet, it has yet to be determined whether any perceived benefits are due to the ketogenic diet itself or if any type of diet leading to weight loss would generate the same positive results.

Either way, as the ketogenic diet has the potential for being a drug-free and cost-effective way to reduce the symptoms of secondary lymphedema, it is definitely worth exploring. Do keep in mind, due to the restrictive nature of the ketogenic diet, you should speak with your doctor and consult a dietitian prior to starting this dietary regimen. Your doctor will be able to inform you of any side effects that may be experienced while on the diet and a dietitian can provide you with a detailed meal plan to ensure you will be consuming the necessary nutrients, despite your restrictive diet.

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