For most people with lymphedema, it is best to reduce salt in your diet. Salt causes fluid to accumulate in the tissues. Some patients find that if they eat a meal high in salt, such as Chinese food or other restaurant foods, their swelling is up the next day. Be aware of hidden salt in foods. Some commercially prepared products, such as canned soups or instant meals, contain large amounts of salt. Reading labels is your best defense. Watch out for excessive fat in foods, as well. Fat can act like a sponge and hold fluid in the affected extremity. Choose foods lower in fat and remove fat from food before you eat it (skim fat from the top of cold soups or stews). When eating out or cooking at home choose grilled, poached, or broiled foods instead of fried foods. Season with lemon juice instead of butter or margarine.
Sufficient water intake is especially important in CDT. Six to eight glasses of water a day helps to flush your lymphatic system of proteins and other waste products that you are trying to eliminate. If we broke up fibrosis protein deposits and there was not enough moveable fluid to wash them away they would remain in the tissues. This can occur if you are not well hydrated. Also, drinking water helps to keep your skin hydrated from within. Drink fewer sodas and caffeinated drinks, which can dehydrate you. Sodas contain sodium (salt) which causes water retention in the tissues. The caffeine acts as a diuretic - pulling water out of your body and contributing to a dehydrated state. (Remember, when you are dehydrated you cannot flush your lymphatic system with MLD). Caffeine also reduces bone density and contributes to osteoporosis.