Whether your pants felt a little tighter when you woke up this morning or your feet feel like footballs, swelling can make you look puffy and stretch your skin uncomfortably. Swelling occurs when you have too much fluid buildup in an area of your body -- or all over your body. While swelling can be related to a medical condition, it could also be influenced by the foods you eat. By encouraging elimination of excess fluid, you can bring swelling down. Always talk to your doctor if you are concerned your swelling could be a sign of an underlying health concern.
Even though swelling is the result of excess water buildup, the surprising way to eliminate the extra water is by consuming more water. The extra water is like a nudge to your kidneys to signal your body to release the excess, thus reducing your swelling. A good place to start is by eating fruits rich in water. Examples include watermelons, which are 92 percent water, and oranges, which are about 80 to 90 percent water, according to “Marie Claire” magazine. Strawberries and blueberries also are helpful because they are high in fiber, which helps to attract excess water in your digestive system to reduce bloating. Grapefruit and pineapple also are high in water content.
Munching on a fresh, green salad with lettuce and spinach is another way to reduce swelling. Leafy greens are packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals that relieve a number of health woes. If you aren’t a salad fan, try a side of kale or chard instead. Cucumbers also are a natural diuretic, meaning they encourage removal of toxins and excess water from the body. Mixing herbs such as peppermint, chamomile or ginger into a tea also can help reduce swelling and stimulate your digestive tract.
Sometimes swelling is the result of inflammation in the body, such as that due to heart disease or diabetes. Fight back with anti-inflammatory foods that contain antioxidants, which help to destroy inflammatory-causing compounds. Examples include cold water fish, such as salmon, herring and tuna. These contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy, anti-inflammatory fats. Olive oil is another inflammation fighter, and when paired with vinegar in a salad dressing, can also help you control your blood sugar.
Foods to Avoid
One of the largest contributors to swelling is excess salt in your diet. Salt attracts water, which can lead to uncomfortable bloating and swelling all over your body. This means you should skip the processed, fried and convenience foods. Carbonated beverages, chewing gum, cabbage, baked beans, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower also are contributors to gas, which can make your stomach feel swollen. Limit these or consume them in moderation while drinking plenty of water to keep swelling at bay.
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.