PERIPHERAL WATER RETENTION
Water retention, also called Oedema, occurs when fluid builds up between the body’s cells or in the circulatory system. There are two types of oedema — generalized, where the whole body retains water, and localized, in which only certain areas retain water. The feet, ankles and legs are the most common areas people experience localized water retention. Older individuals and pregnant woman are more likely to experience oedema, but anyone of any age may retain water.
Swollen feet are common and usually not cause for concern unless they are symptoms that could signal a serious health problem. Pregnancy could also be one of the reasons of swollen feet, which is generally considered normal. However, in case of excessive swelling, do consult a doctor to ensure quick diagnosis and treatment. In case the swelling persists for not more than two to three days, you can use these home remedies to soothe them.
What Diuretics Do
Your doctor may prescribe diuretic medications, which, theoretically, do the same thing that diuretic foods do — they make you urinate to get rid of water your body is holding onto. The difference is that prescription medications have been scientifically proven to work, where as there is no scientific evidence that eating certain foods will do any good. The good thing about diuretic foods, however, is that they add nutrients to your diet and won’t do you any harm, whereas diuretic medications can cause nutrient deficiencies and can have other serious side effects. However, if you’re already being treated for swelling, discuss any dietary changes with your doctor because some foods that are natural diuretics may interact with your diuretic medications.
Foods to Include
Vegetables with diuretic properties include asparagus, parsley, beets, grapes, green beans, leafy greens, pineapples, pumpkins, onions, leeks, garlic, watermelon, cucumber, celery, watercress Certain herbal supplements including dandelion leaf, cornsilk and horsetail, can also have a diuretic effect.
Ginger, a good source of potassium and vitamin B6, has strong anti-inflammatory qualities. Ginger can be grated and added to cooked vegetables, soups and stews. Dr. Richard M. Fleming MD, author of “Stop Inflammation Now” writes, “Studies have shown that ginger can be effective in reducing the pain of arthritis, an inflammatory illness.”
Turmeric, a relative of ginger, has potent anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric is a common spice used in curry that you can add to a wide range of dishes. Turmeric contains a phytochemical named curcumin that has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidation qualities.
Nettle, a plant that has been found to suppress inflammation, it is as effective at reducing inflammation as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, with no side effects. You can use Nettle as drops added to water or juice or steeped in water to make tea.
Flaxseed contains a high quality of anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids. You can add crushed or roasted flaxseed to your food as a condiment. Flaxseed helps to reduce inflammation, strengthen your immune system and destroy disease causing free radicals.
Vitamin B complex
Vitamin B is a water-soluble vitamin that has eight subcategories, all of which are readily available in foods. If it has been discovered through vitamin deficiency testing that you have a vitamin B deficiency, then you should take a multivitamin that contains vitamin B-complex and folic acid. Vitamin B and folic acid supplementation may help decrease your lower leg oedema. Vitamin B-6, vitamin B-5, calcium and vitamin D, can be useful in reducing mild fluid retention. Vitamin B-6 is found in high amounts in brown rice and red meat.
Vitamin B-5 is found in fresh meats, vegetables and whole unprocessed grains in much higher amounts than in processed foods. The best sources of B-5 are brewer’s yeast, kale, broccoli, legumes, egg yolks, lentils and beef. Among the best sources of calcium are dairy products, such as milk, yogurt and cottage cheese.
The best and most reliable source of vitamin D is produced by the body in response to sun exposure.
Antioxidants include vitamin E, vitamin C, selenium, and beta carotene which is a form of vitamin A. They significantly slow or prevent the oxidative, (damage from oxygen) process and so prevent or repair damage to our body cells. These powerful agents are readily found in numerous nutritious foods.
Sodium and Oedema
When water leaks from the tiny blood vessels in your body, it causes oedema. Your kidneys react by retaining more sodium and water to increase the fluids in your blood vessels; however, this leads to more leaking and more oedema. Among the most prevalent causes of water retention is a high consumption of sodium. Consuming an excessive amount of sodium in your diet also causes your body to hold on to more water, increasing fluid volume, which also contributes to the oedema. Choosing lower sodium foods and beverages can help limit your overall sodium intake and help reduce oedema.
To decrease your sodium consumption, avoid fast foods and pre-packaged store-bought foods. In addition to limiting your sodium intake, increase the consumption of potassium to counterbalance your sodium levels.
Fruits and vegetables are good sources of potassium. Potassium-rich foods include sweet potatoes, spinach, greens, bananas, prunes, oranges, tomatoes, tomato juice, low-fat milk, fat-free yogurt and cantaloupe.
Most grains are naturally low in sodium. To limit your intake, include more whole-grains that have been minimally processed, such as brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, millet or barley. Read food labels and include other grain products that contain less than 140 mg of sodium per serving, such as bread, pasta and cereals. When preparing your grains, use herbs and spices to add flavour instead of salty seasonings.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are also naturally low in sodium and make a good choice when trying to reduce the swelling in your feet and ankles. Fresh, frozen, canned and most dried fruits are sodium free. Include more fresh and frozen vegetables to limit hidden sources of sodium that can sometimes be found in canned varieties. You also need to be careful with vegetables with added sauces.
Meat and Beans
Meat and beans are a good source of protein. Sometimes oedema is caused by low protein levels in the blood, making it important that you get good food sources of protein in your diet. Include more freshly prepared meats, such as fresh poultry, red meat and fish, and use herbs and spices to add flavour. Many canned beans contain high amounts of sodium; make your own by using the dried varieties to limit sodium intake.
Eat very little meat, poultry, cheese, butter and other animal products. Wild fish contains high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids which are converted by the body into anti-inflammatory chemicals. Animal meats, cheese, and butter fats have high levels of Omega-6 fatty acids, which are converted by the body into pro-inflammatory chemicals. Increasing your intake of fish and lowering your consumption of saturated fats, like domestic animal meat, and butter will decrease your body’s level of inflammation and help decrease lower extremity (peripheral oedema). The highest sources of anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids are mackerel, salmon, albacore tuna, bluefish, sturgeon and trout.
Dairy foods are also a good source of protein; however, some dairy products, such as cheese, are high in sodium and contribute to the swelling of your feet and ankles. Read food labels and include only low-sodium cheeses. Milk and yogurt are lower in sodium and make a good choice when trying to reduce the swelling.
In addition to choosing more low-sodium foods, you should also omit added salt from your diet when trying to reduce swelling, both during cooking and at the table. Certain foods are also high in sodium and should be omitted from your diet, including ketchup, soy sauce, canned soups, olives, pickles and fast-food.
If you’re pregnant, you are more likely to experience some level of facial water retention. According to the American Pregnancy Association, minor swelling is expected during pregnancy. But the swelling can be made worse by high caffeine consumption, high sodium intake, low potassium, long days of activity or standing for extended periods of time. For those who are pregnant, the association recommends drinking lots of water because it helps flush the body out and reduce water retention. Avoid standing for long periods of time and minimize outdoor activity during hot temperatures. Wear comfortable shoes with supportive stockings and rest with your feet elevated. Additionally, a cold compress on the face can help reduce swelling
Alongside nutritional therapy, regular exercise can also be an effective tool in preventing and relieving fluid retention. It may also be beneficial to cut back on dehydrating drinks, including alcohol, coffee or tea. Because water retention can be caused by several potentially serious problems, including kidney disease and heart failure, it is important to see your doctor if you are experiencing severe water retention.
Here are some ways to cope naturally with five homes remedies for swollen feet –
- Rock Salt to The Rescue
Dr. Ashutosh Gautam suggests, “Soak your feet in a bucket of lukewarm water with rock salt to get rid of inflammation.” Dr. Maninder Singh says, “Do not use hot water as it will cause the swelling to increase.” Use this remedy daily twice a day till the swelling doesn’t subside. A pinch of salt can do wonders to your feet and relief from the pain and swelling. Make sure you use only rock salt, which is said to be a pure form of salt, which can help you get maximum benefits.
[Also, why do not try Epsom Salts as they are Magnesium salts].
- Grapefruit Essential Oil“According to many studies, grapefruit essential oil is a great way to reduce swelling,” says Dr. Ahuja. In a warm bath, add a few drops of grapefruit essential oil and just relax. You can also add it to a bucket of lukewarm water and soak your feet. Grapefruit has antioxidative properties that help reduce the pain and swelling in the feet. The oil is known to possess anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties that help reduce swelling during pregnancy.
- Cucumber and Lemon Water“Increase your fluid intake to dilute the salt in your system. Instead of just drinking water to flush things out, add a few slices of cucumber and lemon to the water and enjoy,” says Dr. Gautam. Both these fruits have anti-inflammatory properties and will help you get rid of swollen feet. Sometimes, swelling can occur due to excessive fluid retention in the body. One of the best ways to reduce swelling is to bring cucumber to your rescue. The nutrients present in cucumber help release excessive water in the body, eventually reducing swelling.
- Load Up On WatermelonDr. Ashutosh adds, “Snacking on fresh watermelon will help reduce swelling in your feet. Watermelon is a great diuretic as it contains 92% water and stimulates urination.” Watermelons are natural diuretics that help reduce water retention, further reducing swelling in the feet. Make sure you load up on watermelons in the sweltering heat and ensure healthy feet.
- Coriander Seeds
This is a popular Ayurvedic treatment for swollen feet. “Coriander seeds are anti-inflammatory in nature and reduce swelling,” says Dr. Ahuja. All you need to do is add 2 to 3 teaspoons of coriander seeds to a cup of water and boil it until the quantity reduces by half. Then strain the solution, let it cool slightly and drink up. Repeat twice a day.
Other Additional Tips:
- Massage Your Feet:“A foot massage creates pressure on the affected area and helps improve blood circulation, relax muscles, and encourages excess fluid drainage which results in reduced swelling. Tip: Gently massage the area for 5-10 minutes in an upward direction, rather than downward,” says Dr. Ashutosh Gautam.
- Elevate Your Legs:When it comes to swollen feet, gravity is not your friend. “Elevate your legs on a pillow to relax your feet,” advises Dr. Maninder Singh. Try elevating your legs above the level of heart every chance you get. Even propping them slightly higher can make a big difference and reduce swelling.
- Avoid Salty Foods:“Excess salt is a big contributor to swollen feet, so reduce your salt intake,” says Dr. Ashutosh.
- Exercise:“Avoid sitting for long hours. Take short breaks and walk around a bit,” advises Dr. Manoj Ahuja, Fortis Hospital. Exercise can help improve blood circulation, lessen swelling and relieve pain.