Edema, or swelling, occurs when unusually large amounts of fluid collect in your circulatory system or your interstitial space -- the space between your cells. Edema most commonly occurs in your lower extremities, including your legs, ankles and feet. Certain dietary strategies may be effective in reducing your edema, although you should always review the merits and drawbacks of this treatment approach with your doctor before adjusting your diet.
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Possible causes of edema, notes the Cleveland Clinic, include sitting or standing for prolonged periods, weakening of your leg vein valves and chronic health problems such as congestive heart failure and kidney disease. Among the most common signs and symptoms associated with edema are bloating, swelling in your extremities, muscle pain or discomfort, rapid changes in your mental state and face puffiness. If you develop edema, you may also experience dyspnea, or shortness of breath.
One of the most important dietary strategies in treating your edema, reports medical doctor Alan R. Gaby, author of "The Natural Pharmacy," involves reducing your sodium intake. High sodium intake may lead to water retention and can exacerbate edema in certain individuals. A diet high in fiber and protein-rich foods, such as turkey, chicken, whitefish and eggs, may be helpful in treating your edema. Cottage cheese, kefir and low-fat yogurt may also be beneficial in addressing this health problem.
A Helpful Food
Asparagus may be a helpful food in treating your edema. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, asparagus is a natural diuretic vegetable, or a vegetable that helps mobilize excess fluid from your body. Asparagus is an excellent source of fiber and numerous nutrients, including potassium, protein, phosphorus, vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin and manganese. Asparagus is low in sodium and has historically been used in treating swelling associated with rheumatic conditions and premenstrual syndrome, notes nutritionist and biologist George Mateljan, author of "The World's Healthiest Foods."
Many factors or conditions may cause edema in your body. If you develop swelling anywhere in your body, you should report to your primary care provider as soon as possible for proper diagnosis and treatment. Eliminating suspected food allergens, such as dairy, wheat, soy, corn, preservatives and chemical food additives, may help your edema, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. You can also try reducing or eliminating trans fatty acids, found in commercially baked goods, French fries and margarine.