Fluid retention or edema is swelling caused by the abnormal buildup of fluid in the body. The fluid collects under the skin within the tissues that are outside of the circulatory system. Edema is most common in the feet and legs, but it can occur in the hands, arms, face, abdomen, and around the lungs. Affected areas of the body may ache or feel stiff.
There’s a difference between pitting and non-pitting edema. If you apply pressure to the swollen area and your finger leaves an indentation, you have pitting edema. Water retention from too much sodium in the body, standing or sitting for too long, poor circulation or pressure from excessive body weight usually causes it.
Non-pitting edema, on the other hand, does not leave a mark when you press your finger into it. This can be a more serious condition caused by issues with the heart, lungs, liver or kidneys.
Typical causes include the body's reaction to hot weather, a high salt intake, and hormones associated with the menstrual cycle or pregnancy. Standing up for long periods of time allows fluid to ‘pool’ in the tissues of the lower leg. Also certain prescription drugs, including birth control pills, high blood pressure medications, corticosteroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Motrin are known to cause fluid retention.
So what can you do?
The first step is to reduce your salt intake. This means not only to cut down on table salt, but also salt (sodium) containing foods like chips, pickles, soy sauce, olives, ham, salami and bacon. Many processed and packaged foods are also high in sodium.
Then make sure you are drinking enough pure water. Many people believe that if your body is retaining water, consuming water will make it worse. But it’s just the opposite; dehydration causes your body to hang on to fluid. Many individuals decrease their water consumption to decrease how often they need to urinate. However water helps your body flush out toxins and salt.
Eat foods that act as a natural diuretic, including asparagus, parsley, beets, grapes, green beans, leafy greens, pineapple, pumpkin, onion, leeks, and garlic. Some of these foods may interact with certain medications so check with your pharmacist.
Diuretics, sometimes called water pills, help rid your body of salt (sodium) and water. Most work by making your kidneys release more sodium into your urine. The sodium then takes water with it from your blood. Diuretics should never be used to achieve weight loss.
Taking a natural diuretic is helpful such as: The Hibiscus plant works as a natural diuretic and also prevents the body from getting rid of potassium. Also Burdock root, Dandelion root, and Apple cider vinegar. A combination formula such as AquaFlow (Enzymatic Therapy) contains Vitamin B6, Magnesium, Potassium, Uva-Ursi, Boldo, Dandelion and Early Goldenrod to help balance the kidneys as well as act a natural diuretic.
Get moving to increase your circulation and reduce fluid retention. Start simple and gradually work up to exercise that is more strenuous. You may notice swelling increases immediately after exercise, but in the long run it will help your lymph and circulatory system become more efficient in draining the fluid. You want to keep the blood flowing in your legs so that fluid won’t pool and cause swelling. Aim to get up and move around 5–8 times per day, even if it’s just for 10 minutes.
When possible elevate feet and ankles while sitting or lying down and stay in a cool environment. Seeing a massage therapist regularly is very helpful as they manually move the fluid out of the tissues.
Edema may be evident in more serious health problems therefore it is suggested to seek professional evaluation from your medical doctor.
Jane Jansen Holistic Practitioner Tree of Life Wellness Center 508-336-4242
Host Holistic Healthline Radio
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