When I was hospitalized two years ago and ultimately diagnosed with CTEPH and congestive heart failure, I learned quite quickly that fluid retention is one of the biggest culprits for feeling ill. So many of us have dealt with fluid retention in our lives, even if you haven’t considered it. Think about an injury that swells. That’s fluid retention around the point of the injury. Well, if your entire body is swelling like that, it’s your body’s way of saying it’s injured!
Foods can be poison or medicine depending on how they are eaten, used, and prepared-foods can cause edema or worsen existing edema, but they can also make it better and help keep it under control. Processed foods promote edema, fluid retention and bloating while natural foods, whole foods, help promote healthier bodies and promote fluid reduction. There are certain steps you can take to help eliminate or improve fluid retention and edema naturally.
Keep in mind, if you’re already on a diuretic, you’ll want to consult with your doctor or healthcare provider before you make any major changes to your diet or medication dosages.
Prevent Edema and Fluid Retention
Of course, the best way to handle edema and fluid retention is to avoid or prevent it first. Some steps you can take to prevent the fluid retention is to cut out all processed foods from your diet. Processed foods promote fluid retention, bloating and edema because of the chemicals, sodium and other preservatives.
Reducing your sodium levels can help prevent fluid retention as well. Sodium helps the body and is absolutely a necessary component in your diet, but generally, we get much too much sodium in our daily diets.
And most importantly, consult with your doctor about any unexplained, prolonged or painful edema or fluid retention you have, because it can be a sign of a more serious problem or condition that might be treatable, or it could be a signal of a problem that could be much more serious.
Fluids Flush Fluids
Unless you have heart failure problems, drinking plenty of clear, healthy, clean fluids can help reduce or prevent fluid retention. It seems somewhat counterintuitive to consume more fluids to help eliminate water retention, but in an otherwise healthy person drinking clear, clean water or lightly flavored waters or teas with no sugar or artificial sweeteners can help flush water out and balance the water to sodium ratio in the body.
Diuretic Foods that Help Reduce Edema
The University of Maryland Medical Center’s website says to eat foods that are naturally diuretic, including: asparagus, parsley, beets, grapes, green beans, leafy greens, pineapple, pumpkin, onion, leeks, and garlic. You’ll also want to get optimal amounts of B vitamins and iron.
Reducing or eliminating the amount of red meat in your diet can help fight inflammation and swelling as well. Lean, healthful meats can replace some of the fattier reds meats in your diet, keep your B vitamins and iron levels high, but reduce the inflammation that comes from the animal-based fats that red meats contains.
Herbs that Reduce Edema
In addition to eating right, you can also add herbs and supplements to help reduce or eliminate edema. Fennel, fennel seed, bilberry, ginger, dandelion, and grapeseed extract all help reduce edema and flush out fluid retention. Licorice also helps with edema. These supplements and herbs can be taken in capsule form, natural form by adding it to your foods, or by using the essential oils made from the plant forms. Teas are a great way to take these as well, which helps increase your natural fluid intake, and that fights edema also.
Eating right, exercise, stretching the body, being active, lowering sodium and avoiding processed foods… all a recipe for lowering edema, preventing fluid retention and helping flush any existing fluids from your body. Try these simple changes before you consider taking harsh diuretics and as always, talk to your healthcare provider about any lifestyle or diet and exercise changes before you make them.