7 Foods to Avoid with Swollen Lymph Nodes

Swollen lymph nodes 1are often neglected until and unless their symptoms don’t surface and cause any trouble. People with swollen lymph nodes are often advised about re-thinking their food choices. Hence, this article is going to discuss foods to avoid swollen lymph nodes.

Foods to avoid swollen lymph nodes should basically comprise foods that do not cause water retention and gut problems.

1. About the Lymphatic System and Lymph Nodes

The lymphatic system was always considered unimportant as it is a subset of the circulatory system and the immune system. The most common places where the lymph nodes get swollen include the neck, armpit, groin, gut, and in between the lungs.

The primary function of the lymphatic system and its lymph nodes includes:

  • Carrying away food lipids
  • Returning the lymphocytes from lymphatic organs into the bloodstream
  • Clearing the tissue fluid from interstitial spaces.

One might not realize that the lymphatic system plays a very important role in fighting infection in the body. They produce white blood cells in the body that retain the body’s ability to fight viruses bacteria and other foreign elements that are harmful.

This might give you a clear idea as to why swelling of the lymph nodes is bad for the body and its immunity.

People having swollen lymph nodes or lymphedema also show signs of weight gain which can be hard to put off. This is due to the accumulation of excess lymph fluid and tissue fluid in the body. That is why diet is emphasized along with foods to avoid for people with swollen lymph nodes.

Also, the foods that cause bloating and gut problems 2are a part of the foods to avoid with swollen lymph nodes as bloating is also found to be commonly associated with swollen lymph nodes.

It is very necessary to keep in mind that the foods to avoid swollen lymph nodes should comprise a diet that does not increase water retention in the body.

Lymph Edema means swelling of the lymph. Swelling is caused due to tissue fluid accumulation which is due to excessive water retention3.

Having swollen lymph nodes is also a type of cancer- lymphoma. Several foods that may trigger the production of carcinogens in the body are also foods to avoid with swollen lymph nodes.

Swollen lymph nodes are caused commonly due to bacterial or viral infections. It is very important to keep in mind the foods to avoid with swollen lymph nodes as they may also lower your immunity system.

Every time someone gets sick or gets a disorder or disease, they are told about the foods that they should eat. Seldom emphasis is given to which foods to avoid. So, below is a list of foods to avoid with swollen lymph nodes.

2. Foods to Avoid with Swollen Lymph Nodes

2.1. Gluten

Gluten is said to have some side effects on the body including bloating, cramping, and decreased immune response4. As a person having swollen lymph nodes would already be subjected to these problems, eating gluten-rich foods would further aggravate the issue.

Gluten-rich foods to avoid with swollen lymph nodes are –

  • wheat
  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Bread
  • Pasta (So yes, you will have to pass out on that Alfredo pasta for now)

2.2. Low Fibre Foods

Low-fiber foods need to be avoided as they cause decreased bowel movements and lead to constipation. The functioning of the digestive system co-relates with the lymphatic system. Therefore, a decrease in bowel movement would lead to a decrease in lymphatic health.

Low-fiber foods to avoid with swollen lymph nodes include – canned vegetables and a few dairy products that cause constipation. Other low-fiber foods are

  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Olive oil
  • Mayonnaise
  • Creamy peanut butter
  • White rice.

Try opting for fresh fruits and vegetables instead. They contain way more nutritional value than canned ones.

2.3. High-sodium Food

High-sodium foods to avoid with swollen lymph nodes comprise foods that have large amounts of preservatives in them like pickles, sauces, and packaged foods. Eating a lot of salt makes the body and blood acidic.

To balance the pH – the body will need more fluids and thus cause fluid retention.

Also, avoid excessive consumption of table salts. Remember, excessive iodine is also the cause of hypertension and many other diseases.

2.4. Processed Dairy

Processed dairy such as cheese, cottage cheese, and buttermilk contain high amounts of sodium in them along with fats. As carrying away food lipids is a function of the lymphatic system, due to its inability, these foods may cause an increase in fat storage in the body.

Hence, for people who are finding it difficult to lose weight while suffering from lymphedema, processed dairy should be on their list of foods to avoid swollen lymph nodes as well as for weight loss.

And also if eating dairy gives you intolerance, you should take it as a clear sign from your body that dairy is not welcome there.

2.5. Beer

Beer is a carbonated and fermented beverage that causes bloating and digestive problems as it has increased sodium quantity and a lot of flavoring. Fermented foods and beverages should be avoided if you suffer from swollen lymph nodes.

Also, try to avoid high-carbonated beverages like cokes and soft drinks as they are packed with sugar and empty calories and can make it tough for you to lose weight.

2.6. Processed Meats

Here is some bad news for all you meat lovers suffering from lymphedema.

All processed meat products like Sausages, Pepperoni, Hot dogs, Bacon, Ham, and Canned Tuna contain a large amount of sodium in them.

In fact, these should be at the top of your list of foods to avoid with swollen lymph nodes. Avoiding pepperoni pizza or that delicious bacon and eggs for breakfast is really going to do you a lot of good to your body in this case.

2.7. Junk Foods and Ready-To-Eat Foods

Let’s be honest, These foods have never done anybody any favor. One can agree that they taste good and satisfy our taste buds big time but is it really worth your health?

Particular junk and ready-to-eat foods to avoid with swollen lymph nodes are commercial pancakes and waffles, pretzels, instant cereals, ready-to-eat bran, and microwave popcorn.

It has always been advised to consume as little junk as you can but in case of swollen lymph nodes, these foods are a big no. They also contain hydrogenated oils5 and fats that are really bad for people who wish to lose weight.

3. In the End

After cutting out all these foods from your diet, you must be thinking that the only option left is to eat bland food, right? Wrong.

Having a high-fiber and low-sodium-clean diet is not as boring as it sounds. In fact, switching to such a diet would not only help with your swollen lymph nodes but also, your overall health. And then again, health is wealth.

It is crucial to drink sufficient water, increase your physical activities, and get some exercise done. It is not just diet but also all these things that would help keep your body healthy in the long run.

4. Frequently Asked Questions

4.1. What foods cleanse lymph nodes?

Water, green vegetables, seafood, ginger, garlic, and turmeric are some foods that can help cleanse lymph nodes.

4.2. How long do swollen lymph nodes last?

Swollen lymph nodes, generally, get better within 2 weeks. However, if you face a problem, seek a doctor’s help immediately.

4.3. How can I keep my lymph nodes healthy?

Keep yourself hydrated, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and avoid anything that can harm lymph nodes.

All You Should Know About Lymph Nodes And Cancer
Icy Health
  1. Laffers, Wiebke, et al. “Histologic diagnoses in persistently swollen cervical lymph nodes.” Head & neck 34.3 (2012): 371-375. ↩︎
  2. Iovino, Paola, et al. “Bloating and functional gastro-intestinal disorders: where are we and where are we going?.” World Journal of Gastroenterology: WJG 20.39 (2014): 14407. ↩︎
  3. Upadhyay, Srishti, et al. “A Review on Water Retention.” Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research and Development (2017): 1-9. ↩︎
  4. Lesourd, B. M. “Nutrition and immunity in the elderly: modification of immune responses with nutritional treatments.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 66.2 (1997): 478S-484S. ↩︎
  5. Emken, E. A. “Nutrition and biochemistry of trans and positional fatty acid isomers in hydrogenated oils.” Annual review of nutrition 4.1 (1984): 339-376. ↩︎

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Ayushi Mahajan
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