Anti-inflammatory nutritional strategies help combat ankle, foot, and leg swelling. Know as peripheral edema, ankle swelling may be a sign of heart, liver, or kidney failure, therefore it is imperative that you seek medical attention for this condition. Peripheral edema is quite common, especially in elder and inactive individuals and especially after prolonged sitting. Dietary strategies such as lowering your salt intake and increasing your consumption of fruits, vegetables, and fish will help lessen the excessive build-up of fluid in your ankles.
The University of Tennessee Medical Center recommends following a low-salt diet to reduce fluid retention and swelling. Salty foods, from processing, pickled or added table salt, increase the body's inflammation levels and promote peripheral edema. Salt substitutes unusually have the identical effect. The first step toward lowering your salt intake is to decrease or eliminate your use of table salt. When purchasing food always read the package carefully and choose the healthiest product with the lowest quantities of sodium and saturated fat.
Registered dietitian Roberta Larson Duyff, of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends increasing your potassium intake by consuming more vegetables. You should have at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. The following foods are potassium sources: Apricots, bananas, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, dates, mushrooms, oranges, parsnip, potatoes, prunes, raisins, spinach, sweet potatoes, watermelon, winter squash, dry beans, lentils, peas, almonds, peanuts, milk and yogurt. Eat a wide variety of these potassium sources throughout the day to lessen your ankle swelling.
The most important factor in fighting inflammation is the food we consume, therefore eating less salt, meat, cheese, and butter and consuming more fish helps reduce swelling. Dr. William Joel Meggs MD., Ph.D., recommends, "Eat fish three to five times a week," and "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 butterfats 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 edema. The highest sources of anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids are mackerel, salmon, albacore tuna, bluefish, sturgeon and trout.
Is This an Emergency?
- University of Tennesse Medical Center: Foot, leg, and ankle swelling
- "American Dietetic Association: Complete Food and Nutrition Guide: 3rd edition"; Roberta Larson Duyff, MS, RD, FADA, CFCS; 2007
- "The Inflammation Cure"; William Joel Meggs, MD., Ph.D.; 2004
- "Stop Inflammation Now"; Rich M. Fleming MD; 2004
- "Chef MD's Big Book of Culinary Medicine"; John La Puma MD.; 2008