Fluid retention is a common problem, especially in women, and can cause a general puffiness of the whole body or just swelling of the feet and ankles in particular. Puffiness of the hands and fingers or the eyelids can also occur. In women, fluid retention during the premenstrual week, can cause breast tenderness and abdominal bloating.
A particular type of fluid retention is called Lymphodema and is swelling of a part of the body caused by blockage or insufficiency of the lymphatic vessels. The most common causes of chronic lymphodema are cancers or surgery where lymph nodes are removed, or after radiotherapy. Fluid retention can be mild to severe and is very annoying for many women.
What causes fluid retention?
Fluid retention has a number of possible causes including:
- Hormonal imbalances such as an under active thyroid gland
- Taking the oral contraceptive pill or strong hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
- Kidney problems
- Sluggish liver function
- Liver Disease
- Heart failure
- Problems with the lymphatic system (can be inherited)
- Varicose veins, which cause fluid retention in the legs
- Food allergies
- Being overweight
Treatment and general recommendations
- Fluid retention is made worse by lack of exercise and using artificial sweeteners. It is best to avoid overusing diuretic drugs if possible, as in the long term they may actually increase fluid retention, and on stopping a diuretic drug, the fluid retention often gets worse.
- Lose weight if you are overweight.
- Physiotherapy with special techniques can improve lymphodema.
- If you are taking oral synthetic HRT or a high dose oral contraceptive pill, changing to a hormone cream will reduce the fluid.
- 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".
- Where possible, and as often as you can, include foods in your diet which have a diuretic effect including celery, cucumber, apples, 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, say 6 to 8 glasses daily. Drinking lots of water and herbal teas is important, especially in preventing further cellulite. Coffee and regular tea is fine as long as you do not put sugar in it.
- Lean fresh red meats and fish can be eaten if desired, as they are good sources of magnesium which reduces fluid retention.
- Consider the possibility of food allergies; an elimination diet avoiding dairy products, sugar, wheat and other gluten-containing grains may be worthwhile, and at least will encourage weight loss.
- Hot spicy foods are good for fluid retention - such as mustard, chili, turmeric, curries, garlic and ginger etc.
- Buckwheat and citrus fruits contain valuable rutin to strengthen the veins and lymphatic vessels.
Foods to avoid
- Limit dairy products. Opt for organic unsweetened soy, almond or coconut milk.
- Preserved meats (eg, ham, bacon, sausage, pizza meats, corned beef, smoked meats).
- Processed foods.
- Potato chips and snack foods such as pretzels.
- Sodas or fizzy drinks.
- Aspartame or other artificial sweeteners.
- Foods containing refined sugars, honey and glucose.
Raw juicing is very beneficial as it improves kidney function. Juicing recipes that are beneficial for different health conditions can be found in "Raw Juices can save your life"
A recommended raw juice recipe to assist with fluid retention contains celery, fennel, parsley, citrus fruits and cucumber.
Orthodox medical treatment
Diuretic drugs like "Lasix" or "Moduretic" may be prescribed and are needed in heart failure and hypertension, in some cases.
Harsh diuretic drugs can flush the fluid away on a temporary basis, but often cause side effects such as mineral deficiencies, cramps, headaches, fatigue and sugar cravings. When they wear off the fluid comes back worse than before! So in mild cases, natural alternatives, exercise and weight loss work best.
Recommended supplements for fluid retention
- LivaTone Plus
Take 1 capsule 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
These are safe and effective - they contain potassium, uva ursi, juniper berry, buchu, black radish root, parsley leaf and asparagus root; dose is one to two tablets twice daily.
- Kidney Health Formula
Take 2 capsules daily to improve kidney function.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.