Your lymphatic system is crucial to keeping your body healthy and functioning. It is a vast series of nodes, organs, and vessels that transports fluid throughout your body, removes waste products from cellular functions, and plays a crucial role in your immune system by identifying and responding to infections.
Lymphedema develops when the nodes and/or vessels become damaged and/or overloaded with lymphatic fluid. When this occurs, the affected part of the body will swell with lymphatic fluid and possibly become painful, disfigured, heavy, and be more prone to infection or decreased ability to heal wounds.
There are multiple conditions that can result in the development of
lymphedema or chronic edema.
Secondary Lymphedema can develop due to damage to the lymphatic system, such as cancer surgery or radiation therapy. Cancer cells use the lymphatic system to spread to other parts of the body. Unfortunately, life-saving surgeries to remove tumors will also involve removal of lymph nodes from the area to determine the degree of cancer spread. This removal of lymph nodes can result in lymphedema of the area in which the lymph nodes drained. In addition, radiation therapy can also damage the lymph nodes and vessels that drain a particular part of your body.
Primary Lymphedema is a developmental abnormality of the lymphatic system that does not allow it to function properly in a certain area of your body.
Chronic Edema can also result from having too much fluid in the body or fluid overload that can be due to poor functioning of the heart, kidney, or liver. This type of chronic edema can progress very quickly and will need to be followed closely by your physician. This type of edema usually affects both legs equally.
Phlebolymphedema is the combination of insufficiencies of both the lymphatic and venous system. If the veins and their valves are no longer able to pump fluid back to the heart, called venous insufficiency, the lymphatic system will compensate for a period of time. However, the long-term strain on the lymphatic system will result in damage of the lymphatic system as well, resulting in swelling in the legs. Phlebolymphedema can also develop due to blood clots that damage the veins. Without treatment and over time, phlebolymphedema will have a darker pigmentation on the lower half of the legs.
There are other conditions that can cause lymphedema due to the blockage of lymphatic flow out of a part of the body. Obesity can hinder lymphatic flow out of the legs and can also damage of the lymphatic vessels and veins. Scar tissue from surgeries or accidents can block the flow of lymphatic fluid out of areas.
Diet For Lymphedema
The idea of using diet for lymphedema therapy is rapidly gaining ground, and the Ketogenic Solution for Lymphatic Disorders book was written to help those with lymphatic disorders implement a ketogenic diet as an effective treatment.
Dr. Keith has extensive experience in helping her patients lose weight and dramatically reduce lymphatic swelling by showing them how to switch their standard diet to a low-carb, high-fat way of eating. Her methods and the results of a 2017 study she published in which she and her colleagues showed the positive effect the diet had on treatment outcomes are included in the book.