Pitting edema causes swelling in your face, hands, legs and feet. If you push your finger down on the swollen area for a few seconds and withdraw it, a small indentation remains. Many disorders cause pitting edema; changing your diet can often help decrease the edema. Talk with your doctor before making drastic dietary changes, especially if you have a chronic disorder such as diabetes or lymphedema, two disorders that can cause pitting edema.
Sodium, one of the main ingredients in table salt, holds water. Since extra fluid is what forms edema, decreasing your sodium intake will decrease the amount of fluid you retain. Putting away the salt shaker, while a good first step towards reducing your sodium intake, won’t reduce edema worsened by sodium intake as much as cutting out processed foods will. Many processed foods have very high sodium content. Most fruits, vegetables and meats normally have low sodium levels. Keeping daily sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day or less will help reduce fluid retention, but most Americans consume twice that amount, according to MayoClinic.com.
Naturally Diuretic Fruits and Vegetables
Some fruits and vegetables, such as asparagus, beets, cranberry, grapes, green beans, leafy greens, pineapple, pumpkin, watermelon and onions have natural diuretic properties, meaning they help remove excess fluid from your body. Spices such as ginger, garlic, fenugreek and fennel may also act as a natural diuretic.
Foods High in B-Complex Vitamins
Foods high in B-complex vitamins can also act as natural diuretics, helping to eliminate excess fluid in pitting edema. Whole grains, dark leafy green vegetables and sea vegetables can all boost your vitamin B-complex intake.
Low protein levels can cause pitting edema. Increasing your protein intake may help reduce pitting edema in some cases. Ask your doctor before increasing protein, since your doctor may restrict your protein intake if you have certain types of kidney disease. Always choose lean meats, fish, chicken or other fowl and avoid meats cooked with sauces that may contain extra sugar or sodium.
Foods high in antioxidants, such as bell peppers, blueberries, cherries, squash and tomatoes can also help reduce edema. Antioxidants attack and destroy free radicals, harmful molecules formed from toxins that can damage DNA in cells.
Cutting alcohol and increasing your water intake can also help reduce edema, in some cases. Drinking eight to 10 8-oz. glasses of water can help reduce fluid retention from dehydration, a common cause of edema in hot weather, according to the Preventative Medicine Clinics of the Desert. If you have certain types of kidney disease, however, you may need to adhere to a fluid-restricted diet. Always follow your doctor’s instructions on fluid intake if you have edema.