Can anti-inflammatory diets influence lipedema pain?

Every day our "Second me" Accompanied and annoyed, our unloved roommate, the piece of ballast of our body that we have to carry around with us without being asked, we are only too happy to reach for every straw that opens up to get rid of this enemy or, if this does not succeed, at least one further advance to prevent our delicate woman's skin. 

I like to name my uninvited guest Magdalena - I once had one Magdalena as a colleague. In my eyes she had the perfect body, perfect IQ, perfect partnership and family. She always got everything she wanted, she was praised, celebrated, preferred. She never seemed to be unlucky, not even getting a bloody pimple on her period. She was exactly the best example of the person we hate when we struggle with ourselves. 

And next to it I stood as an imperfect colleague who was just 1,60 cm tall and who also suffered from lipedema and was wearing stockings and looked like a Smurf in a coat and pants because of the proportions and dimensions. And whenever there was cake or delicacies - and that happens almost every day in Klinik & Co, because there are always birthdays, farewells or souvenirs - I just had to look at the dough pieces. Hush, lipedema pain, heartburn and 4 kg more on the hips followed the next day. 

It can't go on like this, can it? 

Of course, I knew that the fat cells in lipedema are diet-resistant, they absorb fat but don't give it off. That said, any weight gain was fatal to me. Best never again ice cream, pizza, cake, chocolate ... 

But surely there had to be an exception every now and then without not wanting to leave the house and just running around in sloppy clothes? And why the hell is this even happening? It's not life! 

Fragile vessels, chronic inflammatory processes 

With lipedema there is an increased vascular permeability. This means that the capillaries (the finest blood vessels in our body) contain more protein and more water and Fat flow into the tissues. Far more than can be taken up and transported away by the lymphatic system. 

Incidentally, this vulnerability of the blood vessels also explains the tendency towards the frequent bruises on the legs, which we are familiar with! 

The protein then stays in the tissue, where it finally binds the mixture of water and fat to itself. Secondary edema develops. The unwanted fat accumulates in the subcutaneous tissue, from where it can hardly be mobilized and only reduction diets initially lead to weight loss only at the beginning, if there is also normal overweight / fat tissue. In the end, however, lipedema fat is always left on the affected areas of the body.

An additional vice of our tissue: there is a creeping "inflammation" in this pathologically altered fatty tissue. I deliberately put the word inflammation in “...”, because this does not mean that it is possible in the case of lipedema tissue to demonstrate this inflammation in a laboratory, as is the case, for example, with knee joint inflammation or an infection. In these cases, an unspecific increase in “CRP” in the blood and possibly an increase in white blood cells can be detected. 

Bonded fasciae in lipedema

In the case of our lipedema tissue, there is more likely a production of different, diverse inflammatory substances so-called mediators on the spot, in the tissue itself. These messenger substances in turn lead to a kind of irritation of fine nerve endings on site, which ultimately leads to the painfulness of the Tissue on legs, arms, etc. explained. Some sources explain the pain of lipedema in part also by a glued fascia tissue.

fascia are the fine connective tissue skins that z. B. Envelop muscle strands. If the lymphatic drainage is disturbed, as it sooner or later is typical in lipedema, there is an accumulation of fibrinogen (a blood coagulation factor) in the lymphatic system and, as a result, the fasciae stick together. That is why one hears the words "Do you roll over the Blackroll in the evening?" ... No, I only roll to bed late at night, unfortunately. But if you have the time and leisure to do this and have already tried it, you know how painful it is for our tissue. OUCH! Free bruises as memorials are becoming the order of the day. But we lipedema girls know that if you want to be beautiful, you have to suffer! And try everything.

Why obesity is so relevant to inflammation 

Inflammation in the body can be avoided not only with drugs, but also with fight the food. 

Normally, our body tries to eliminate various noxious substances that cause it damage with inflammation. If this is successful, the inflammation disappears; if the attempt is unsuccessful, the inflammation becomes chronic. Many so-called affluent diseases are associated with chronic inflammation, also obesity (obesity). At the Technical University of Munich, for example, it has already been proven that increased levels of inflammatory cytokines (including the above-mentioned messenger substances in the tissue!) Predict weight gain. All attention! 

Less body weight in fat form = less inflammation 

Indeed yes! Because when there is a surplus of energy - which is not difficult to get today compared to the Stone Age - the fat cell precursors give rise to settled, fully developed fat cells (Adipocytes). And these outweigh those who are overweight (ADIPO-S ITAS) ... But who can constantly resist our temptations of sugar and fat that are tempting at every corner, consider the morning walk past the bakery, where everything smells so warm. ... hmmmmm ...

But back to the topic: the nasty fat cells, the adipocytes, which are now in the majority and which the body does not fit into the permanent stuff for evolutionary reasons, are finally attacked by the defense cells of our body tissue. These defense cells finally form - well, what do you think - inflammatory messenger substances and now try with all their might as a defense force to dissolve the adipocyte counterparty. And why do we really have the salad here? Because in most lipedema patients everything that is bad and bad comes together: fat as adipocytes in the form of excess weight and the bad lip fat, which is already genetically modified, is too much for the body and is becoming more and more. The crowning glory is the absolute inflammation arousal!

And when we are generally overweight, we don't only have adipocytes in our legs and arms. Muscle, brain, stomach, chest, bottom, liver, pancreas ...

I then wonder about heartburn, water retention, stomach pains, pale skin, pimples and hangover headaches after excessive, unstoppable monthly snooper consumption. 

"You are what you eat."

German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach 1804–1872

Rightly a wise sentence, I say today. If I had already known then what to expect later, I would have developed the evil, my dearest Magdalena, delay or even slow down? After all, as a child I also grew up with home cooking, Maggi bags and the beautiful Sunday crossaint. 

In this context, food plays an important role that goes beyond its function as an energy supplier. Because it doesn't matter in which form the calories are consumed. Certain foods in themselves lead to an increase in proinflammatory messenger substances. These include high-sugar and refined foods, as well as sugar-sweetened drinks. 

Anti-Inflammatory Diet - Lots of Vegetables and Omega-3? 

And vice versa? Can you eat against the inflammatory processes in the body? Yes, I say nowadays, just like other nutritionists, rheumatologists and scientists.

An example: in a study on nutritional therapy, patients with rheumatoid arthritis were able to significantly reduce their anti-inflammatory drugs while eating a certain diet. The participants needed 32 percent fewer non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. ibuprofen) and 15 percent fewer corticosteroids (cortisone). This could only be achieved by switching to a vegetarian diet with an increased intake of fish oil, omega-3-rich oils, other antioxidant foods and vitamin D balance. I had vitamin D in mine Insta account Lost a few words at the very beginning.

Lots of vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids, lots of fish and little to no meat 

So eating the right anti-inflammatory diet can go a long way toward reducing inflammation, e.g. B. in osteoarthritis, rheumatism and colitis. It can improve pain and discomfort overall. However, one should not expect miracles. Unfortunately, every body is knitted differently. Even if the biochemistry of every cell works in the same way, we still have to be satisfied with the fact that there is no one-size-fits-all recipe that works in the same way for everyone and everyone affected. That would be too nice. 

Roughly, you can say that you can eat vegetables without restrictions! Add one to two handfuls of low-sugar fruit a day, such as soft fruit. There are thousands of phytochemicals in vegetables, berries, nuts and fruits and all of these have an overall anti-inflammatory effect. Some spices are also like naturopathic medicine: Cucurmin in turmeric as well as ginger and chilli can have anti-inflammatory effects. 

Especially omega-3 fatty acids in vegetable oils and cold water fish also have an anti-inflammatory effect .

Omega-3 fatty acids (FA) are not reproducible by the body and are among the unsaturated FS. The most important FAs are linolenic acid, DHA and EPA. At the cellular level, they are an important part of cell membranes. With regard to the above-mentioned inflammatory processes in the body, it could be demonstrated that the above-mentioned FS are able to inhibit the already mentioned inflammatory messenger substances (prostaglandins, interleukins) and to reduce their production from their chemical precursors. They also lower the concentration of free radicals and thus ensure a modulation of the immune response. 

Less sugar, less salt & fewer finished products please

What do lipedema and chronic inflammatory diseases have in common? A packed rucksack of genetic badness under your belt! Diet and lifestyle are therefore poison for us humans who are prone to inflammatory diseases due to their genetic predisposition. Finally, certain foods also fuel the development of inflammatory processes. Sweets, pork, wheat products, fast food, preservatives, alcohol and omega-6 FA form substances that promote inflammation. 

Anti-inflammatory diet = rich in vital substances + rich in vitamins 

We lip patients in particular are the ones who, due to our genetics, should eat very rich in vital substances. Our tissue is chronically undersupplied and literally cries out for vitamins, minerals and trace elements! 

Antioxidant vital substances such as V, Vitamin C and Vitamin E, Copper, Selenium, Zinc and Omega-3-Fatty acids are therefore essential. However, these should can not be without prior consultation with a good doctor and not without a preliminary blood count just somehow taken in any dosage, true to the motto, "a lot helps a lot"! In addition, especially with lipedema, there are various other additives at the biochemical level, which should only be dosed and discussed by a renowned doctor with orthomolecular knowledge. 

Natural anti-inflammatories in the anti-inflammatory diet

I will give you anti-inflammatory drugs that can be naturally included in the anti-inflammatory diet:

  • lemon 
  • magnesium 
  • fermented foods:
    for example sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, kefir, kombucha and others
  • broccoli 
  • onions 
  • Garlic
  • ginger 
  • Cherries and blueberries 
  • Omega 3:
    Mackerel, herring, salmon, algae, walnuts, linseed / linseed oil, hemp oil, pumpkin seed 
  • moderate reduction in bad, excessive carbohydrates (white rice, pasta, potatoes, bread), i.e. cessation of excessive consumption of a very carbohydrate-based diet towards a controlled intake of starchy foods with a low glycemic index (whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruit) 

Anti-inflammatory nutrition in lipedema - summary 

There is currently no evidence-based lipedema-specific diet or form of nutrition, as no randomized, controlled studies have been published on this. The previous approaches are essentially based on empirical data, biochemical processes and cell biology as well as observational studies and aim at a reduction in body weight, an inhibition of the inflammatory reaction through antioxidant and anti-inflammatory components and a subsequent "drainage" and inflammation reduction. 

In view of the high proportion of those affected with eating disorders and obesity, an individual adjustment to an anti-inflammatory diet should always be made. 

As always, I hope this article has informed you well. Even if we cannot do anything about lipedema, we can at least influence it to a certain extent. The disease is also a reflection of what we additionally expose and burden our body with. Are we helping him to cope better or worse with the constantly prevailing inflammatory processes?

Eat healthier! 🙂 

Your Doc_Gerlach 


If you liked the article, Nicole would be very happy if you buy her a virtual cup of coffee!


Sources - anti-inflammatory diet

  • International Society of Lymphology, Campisi C, President of the Italian Society of Lymphangiology and of the ISL-Latin Mediterranean Chapter, Full Professor of Surgery, IRCCS University Hospital San Martino - IST National Institute for Cancer
  • Research, Genoa, Italy, NATURAL CUMARIN IN SURGERY OF LYMPHŒDEMA, September 2013, 24th ISL Congress, Rome, Campisi C, p. 137 
  • Lipoclinic Dr. Heck, it's a woman's affair - lipedema from a gynecological point of view / Dr. Heck-Kneissle 
  • Meier-Vollrath, Ilka; Schneider, Winfried; Schmeller, Wilfried, Lipedema: Improved quality of life through combination of therapies, Dtsch Arztebl 2005; 102 (15): A-1061 / B-892 / C-840 
  • Caruana M, Lipedema: A Commonly Misdiagnosed Fat Disorder, Plast Surg Nurs. 2018 Oct / Dec; 38 (4): 149-152. doi: 10.1097 / PSN.0000000000000245
  • Anne M. Minihane, Low-grade inflammation, diet composition and health: current research evidence and its translation, Br J Nutr. 2015 Oct 14; 114 (7): 999-1012
  • Földi E, Facts about lipoedema and lymph / lipoedema, 1st Jobst® Scientific Symposium, 2008 (ed.). Lymph / Lipoedema Treatment in Its Different Approaches. Wounds UK: Aberdeen (UK), 2009, pp. 36-40 
  • "Inflammation: The Real Cause of All Disease and How to Reduce and Prevent It" Body Ecology 2006 (Inflammation: The Real Cause of All Diseases and How to Reduce and Prevent Them) 
  • "Top 10 Anti-Inflammatory Foods Youve Got to Know" the conscious life 2012 (Top 10 Anti-Inflammatory Foods You Should Know)
  • Shin HC et al., "An antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent for potential treatment of osteoarthritis from Ecklonia cava" Archives of Pharmaceutical Research 2006 29 (2): 165-171 (An antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent from Ecklonia cava as a potential treatment for osteoarthritis )
dr. nicole gerlach lipedema fashion

Author: Dr. Nicole Gerlach

Hi to all the lip girls out there! My name is Nicole Gerlach, I was born in 1983 and a passionate doctor. After a long pre-professional path through biochemistry, I have not only been involved in sports and nutritional medicine for almost ten years and previously worked on publications of various studies on Alzheimer's disease in Göttingen. After five years in the field of internal medicine, I am currently working in outpatient, general medical care. In addition, I have been able to gain experience in emergency medicine and phlebology / angiology, which, along with everything else, is most important to me and which is now the focus of my Instagram account @fragdochmaldiefrau_doctor, which I opened on August 21.08.2020, XNUMX, for questions and help on the subject of lip and lymphedema. A topic that is so close to my heart because I am an affected lipedema fighter myself and would like to share all of my knowledge and experiences with everyone who is affected and who are interested in medicine! Let's do it!

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  • Hello Dr. Gerlach,

    thanks for this interesting article.
    I completely changed my diet 4 months ago.
    No sugar, no sweets, very few carbohydrates, much more vegetables and no more meat or sausage products.
    So once everything turned inside out and it was a challenge….
    I can already say I don't regret it.
    My pain in my arms and legs has decreased by about 80%. I never thought! Of course, it is not always easy to forego the many delicious temptations. But after this great success in reducing pain, it is much easier for me. And I no longer see it as a sacrifice. My quality of life has improved massively. I am very happy about it and therefore I will carry on bravely….
    I