Edema is a medical condition that results when abnormal amounts of fluid build up in the body. This causes swelling and puffiness and can occur at many areas of the body, including in the legs, arms, feet, hands, lungs, heart or stomach area. While medications and medical conditions such as cancer may contribute to edema, another risk factor is poor nutrition or malnutrition. For this reason, nutritional changes may reduce edema-related swelling.
Get Tested for Food Allergies
Nutrition-related edema can be attributed to unknown food allergens, such as dairy products (including milk, cheese and ice cream), gluten, soy, corn and preservatives or other food additives. An allergist or other health care provider can test you for certain food allergies or recommend a trial-and-error diet that eliminates certain foods to measure how your swelling responds.
Reduce Consumption of Fluid-Retaining Foods
Consumption of salt causes the body to retain water, which can cause swelling in the body. Determine to avoid foods high in salt, such as fast foods, processed meats, foods containing trans fats. Refrain from salting your meals. Ask your doctor if salt substitutes may be a viable option for seasoning your foods. Another option is to replace salt with healthier choices, such as lemon juice, vinegar, fresh herbs or pepper.
Other foods that may cause a person to retain water include refined foods, such as white breads, pastas and sugar--especially the sugar found in packaged baked goods such as cookies, crackers, cakes and doughnuts.
While alcohol initially serves as a diuretic, it can cause the body to swell and retain fluid. Limit alcohol and tobacco products, which can have a similar swelling and water retention effect.
Foods to Incorporate
Incorporating certain foods into your diet that are known to have a diuretic effect may help to reduce swelling in the body. Consume whole grains; leafy greens (such as spinach, kale and romaine lettuce); asparagus; beets; green beans; leeks; onion; and pumpkin.
Replace red or salted meats with lean cuts of turkey and chicken, cold-water fish (such as salmon), tofu or beans.
In addition to foods that act as a diuretic, choose foods known to reduce inflammation in the body. These include colorful fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries, strawberries, cherries, tomatoes, squash and bell peppers.