When fluid accumulates in the circulatory system’s cavities and tissues, uncomfortable swelling manifests in the legs, feet, ankles and hands. This water retention, otherwise known as edema, is a common medical complaint suffered by pregnant women, people who are largely inactive, are on long-term medication, bedridden, or lead a sedentary lifestyle. An edema is not considered life threatening in itself, though it could be a sign of such a serious issue (for example kidney disease or heart failure). Fortunately, most of the time edema is preventable, treatable and any uncomfortable swellings can be reduced.
Here are 6 of the most common causes of edema and some excellent tips on how to avoid or remedy the condition:
1. Excessive Sodium Intake
The body begins to retain water in ‘reserve mode’, when we consume too much high-sodium food, and drink too little water. To help deal with and dilute the salt in our system, body cells enlarge themselves by up to 20 times, with water. Eating too much salt in itself is not the only cause of high sodium levels since many canned vegetables, sauces and processed meat also contain a lot of salt too.
Try: Amazingly there is a salt that will not cause your body to retain water, but reverse the situation. Drinking a glass of water with either Celtic sea or Himalayan salt has been shown to help reverse edema.
2. Vitamin B6 deficiency
Vitamin B6 actually controls our body’s water balance. Thus, if we don’t get enough of this vitamin, we may be at risk of water retention and swelling. One study has found that women suffering from PMS related edema benefited greatly from consuming vitamin B6. The benefits were much greater than those to be gained from any other supplement. Because B6 is water-soluble, it works better taken from whole foods.
Try: Some of the best foods you can eat for increased vitamin B6 include the following: bananas, lean beef, turkey, chicken, tuna, potatoes (unpeeled), pistachios, dried fruit and sunflower seeds.
3. Potassium deficiency
Potassium is also necessary for maintaining the body’s water balance, being an electrolyte that controls cell, tissue and organ functioning. Potassium levels dip as a result of not eating foods rich in the substance, profuse sweating after exercise, and eating sodium-rich foods. Edema often occurs if potassium levels are not properly maintained.
Other problems that may result as a consequence of potassium deficiency may include: muscle spasms, cramps, and weight gain. Potassium, then, can reduce edema by keeping sodium levels down and boosting urine production.
Try: Rather than relying on potassium supplements, it would be better to maintain a diet of potassium rich fruits (and vegetables). Most fruits, in particular, will provide you with plenty of the nutrient, yet the highest amounts are said to be found in rock melon, honey melon and watermelon.
You may be surprised to find that a lack of water causes water retention and swelling. This occurs as the body desperately tries to retain as much water as possible in order to stay alive. This situation can be prevented by drinking water regularly, as well as juices that are rich in potassium.
Try: Avoid drinks that tend to dehydrate your body, such as soda pops and coffee, while drinking lots more water until the edema subsides.
5. Magnesium Deficiency
Magnesium deficiency also frequently causes water retention. Because it is needed for so many body functions, low levels of Magnesium stop many body functions from working. One study has shown that around 200 mg of daily magnesium can lower the water retention of women suffering from PMS.
Try: Reduce edema by eating more magnesium-rich food or take good quality magnesium supplements. Such foods that are rich in magnesium include the following: dried fruits, yogurt, spinach, peas, whole grains, nuts, avocados, dark green vegetables and dark chocolate.
6. Excessive consumption of Processed Foods
Processed foods are both rich in sugar and sodium, and contain a lot of food additives that damage the liver and kidneys. Certain sugar-rich foods, like those in artificial sweeteners, causes rapid blood sugar and insulin spikes. These results cause increased sodium retention, which itself is bad news for water retention.
Always try to keep away from processed foods. To keep your liver working well and to stave off other potential health issues, use juices to help detox your body, if you have been consuming too many processed foods.
Try: When it comes to improving your body’s condition with regard to water retention, the following herbs have been shown to be useful, thanks to their strong diuretic qualities: parsley, fennel, garlic, hibiscus, nettle, corn silk and horsetail.
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