Fluid retention is a common problem, causing swelling of the feet and ankles particularly. Puffiness of the hands and fingers or the eyelids can also occur. In women, fluid retention premenstrually can cause breast tenderness and abdominal bloating.
Lymphoedema is swelling caused by blockage of the lymphatic vessels such that fluid accumulates in the tissues. The commonest causes of chronic lymphoedema in the Western world are cancers or subsequent surgery or radiotherapy. An example is mastectomy with lymph node clearance for breast cancer, following which lymphoedema or swelling of the arm on the affected side may occur.
What causes it?
Mild fluid retention has a number of possible causes including:
- Hormonal imbalances such as an under active thyroid gland
- Taking the oral contraceptive pill or potent hormone replacement therapy
- Kidney problems
- Sluggish liver function
- Liver disease
- Heart disease and heart failure
- Problems with the lymphatic system
- Varicose veins, which cause fluid retention in the legs
- Food allergies and being overweight
However, more significant fluid retention may indicate heart, liver or kidney disease so it is important to be assessed by your doctor.
Treatment and general recommendations
- Fluid retention is made worse by poor diet, lack of exercise and using artificial sweeteners.
- It is best to avoid diuretic drugs if possible, as in the long term they may actually increase fluid retention, and on stopping a diuretic the fluid retention will initially get worse.
- Losing weight if you are overweight will often resolve the problem. Physiotherapy with special binding techniques can improve lymphoedema.
- Treatment of the underlying cause of fluid retention is certainly the first step.
- If you are taking oral synthetic HRT or the wrong type of contraceptive pill this can also play a part in the retention of fluid. Women with a lymphatic body type are better off on the natural hormonal creams rather than the troches.
- Massages incorporating lymphatic drainage can be helpful - see a qualified practitioner.
Follow The Liver Cleansing Diet Principles in chapter 5 of the book "The Liver Cleansing Diet". An alternative is to follow the eating plan for the Lymphatic body type from "The Body Shaping Diet" book or follow "Unlock The Secrets that Keep You Fat" book.
- Include often foods which have a diuretic effect including celery, cucumber, apples, artichokes, rockmelon, watermelon, parsley, fresh dandelion greens, watercress, fennel, papaya, pineapple, garlic and dill.
- Converse to what you may think you should also drink plenty of water, approximately 8 to 10 glasses daily.
- Base your diet on protein and vegetables and reduce your intake of carbohydrate rich foods such as flour, bread, pasta, rice and breakfast cereals.
- Consider the possibility of food allergies; an elimination diet avoiding dairy products, wheat and other grains which are the most common culprits may be worthwhile.
- If you are taking a potassium losing diuretic, consume potassium-rich foods like nuts, sunflower seeds, fruits and vegetables including bananas, apricots, citrus fruits, parsley, spinach, broccoli and carrots.
- Hot spicy foods are good for reducing fluid retention, such as - chilli, turmeric, curries, garlic and ginger etc.
- Buckwheat contains valuable rutin to strengthen the veins and lymphatic vessels.
Foods to avoid
- ALL DAIRY PRODUCTS - this is VITAL
- Potato chips
- Salted nuts
- Fizzy drinks
- Foods containing refined sugars, honey and glucose
Dairy foods are poison for the lymphatic type and should be avoided always. These include milk, cheese, cream, butter, yoghurt, ice-cream, chocolate. Also due to foreign proteins in cow's milk it is also very bad for autoimmune conditions and poor immune system function. Both the Liver Cleansing Diet and Syndrome X eating plans are dairy free. Try some different brands and varieties of almond, coconut or hemp milk, as they vary greatly. Drinking lots of water and fresh juices is also very important especially in preventing further cellulite.
Juicing recipes that are beneficial for different health conditions can be found in "Raw Juices Can Save Your Life".
The recommended recipe to assist with fluid retention is: Fluid Retention Juice" on page 85.
The raw fresh vegetable juices are important. It is good to use both whole fruits and vegetables in the diet as well as the juices, as the juices provide an easily absorbed form of nutraceuticals that are very beneficial for the liver and lymphatic system.
Orthodox medical treatment
Diuretic drugs like "Lasix" or "Moduretic" may be prescribed but should not be necessary if you try the natural alternatives above. Harsh diuretic drugs can flush the fluid away on a temporary basis, but often cause side effects such as mineral deficiencies, fatigue and sugar cravings. When they wear off the fluid comes back worse than before!
- Livatone Plus Powder 200g or Livatone Plus 120/240
Take 1 teaspoon stirred into fresh raw juices or water twice daily or 2 capsules twice daily before meals - Liver tonics containing St Mary's Thistle, B vitamins and Taurine will help stimulate the phase 1 and 2 detox pathways in the liver and stimulate and improve fat burning efficiency.
- Fluid Relief 90 Tablets
Take 1 - 3 tablets before meals. Fluid retention, bloating, puffy arms and legs, cellulite, pre menstrual bloating and congestion, aching legs and varicose vein symptoms can be helped naturally, without side side effects by taking this natural diuretic.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.