Management of Swelling With a Ketogenic Diet

By April 21, 2022 July 8th, 2024 No Comments

For today, I would like to tell you about a research paper by a group in Belgium led by Melissa Garcia-Caballero. The paper is entitled “Role and therapeutic potential of dietary ketone bodies in lymph vessel growth”. This research was published in the July 2019 issue of the journal, Nature Metabolism.  Dr. Garcia-Caballero presented the results of this research at our November 2020 Ketogenic Solution for Lymphatic/Fat Disorders Virtual Symposium.

This interesting research explores some of the potential benefits of a ketogenic diet or ketone supplementation for the management of swelling.

Ketone Bodies

Ketone bodies, such as beta-hydroxybutyrate, or BHB, are a metabolite of dietary fat.  This research investigated the impact of ketone bodies on a mouse model of lymphedema and in vitro human lymphatic cells. The researchers found that the elevation of ketone bodies in the lymph, either through a ketogenic diet or through ketone supplementation, can increase lymph vessel function and growth.  

This outcome demonstrates that a ketogenic diet may have a potentially favorable impact on swelling, a symptom of both lymphedema and lipedema.  Interestingly, the researchers also found that the lymphatic system preferred to use ketone bodies, even in the presence of glucose.  Additionally, this research is only one of several studies that demonstrated the importance of essential fatty acids and ketones to the health and functioning of the lymphatic system.


This study is incredibly important to women with lipedema because women with this condition can have swelling. The swelling occurs most often in the lower body, such as the calves and ankles.  Swelling may be worse at the end of the day and resolve overnight or, if lymphedema develops, it can be more chronic and severe. 

Although more research is needed on humans with lymphedema and lipedema, this current study helps us understand how we might better treat and manage chronic conditions such as lipedema and lymphedema.

~ Leslyn Keith, OTD, CLT-LANA
Board President, Director of Research | The Lipedema Project

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