Swelling of the body, most common in the arms, hands, feet, ankles and legs, is usually caused by the immune system’s response to illness or infection. This inflammation often leads to uncomfortable bloating, known as edema. Whereas swelling may be indicative of more serious underlying medical conditions, often it has more benign causes, such as standing in one place for too long or eating salty processed foods. Though there are medications that can reduce swelling, many people choose natural, anti-oxidant rich foods and supplements to help their bodies return to normal. Ankle swelling, known as peripheral edema, may be a symptom of heart, liver or kidney failure and should prompt a visit to the doctor.
Sip a Spot of Tea
Herbal teas have been revered as natural healers for centuries, and three edema fighting favorites are meadowsweet, black haw and Devil’s claw. Anti-inflammatory meadowsweet contains an analgesic ingredient called salicin, which turns into an aspirin-like substance in the digestive tract and can help swelling when sipped three times daily. Black haw is especially useful in alleviating swelling in the female reproductive organs, while Devil’s claw helps rheumatism and other joint inflammations.
Stir in Tasty Tomatoes
Rich in nutrients and vitamins, tomatoes are a wise choice for edema-prone folks. Just one helping of this ruby-hued fruit per day can help reduce swelling; add farm fresh slices to salads and sandwiches or whip up some spicy pasta sauce with the canned variety.
Pop Beautiful Berries
Much-heralded blueberries are renowned for their potent anti-oxidant and anti-aging properties and are also helpful in reducing swelling. Eat them by the handful as a snack, make luscious fruit smoothies or stir them into low-fat yoghurt or whole-grain cereals. Blueberries are high in infection-fighting vitamin C and have only about 80 calories per cup. Other fruits with similar super anti-swelling properties include strawberries, red grapes and blackberries.
Seek the Natural Sweeteners
Many of us head straight for desserts and snacks sweetened with refined sugars, which are high in calories, tend to accelerate premature aging and can exacerbate swelling. Instead, browse your local health food and gourmet stores for snacks sweetened naturally with fruits like cherries, apples, peaches, plums or raspberries, all high in anti-oxidants and low in calories.
Feast on Fresh Seafood
The beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids in fish like salmon, mackerel, albacore tuna, trout and bluefish are converted into anti-inflammatory chemicals in the body, helping ease infection-caused swelling. Eat these luscious fruits of the sea three to five times a week to help reduce lower extremity edema.
Back Away from the Chips
Salty foods are notorious for contributing to problems with swelling of the extremities, and popular snacks like processed chips and crackers are high in salt and low in nutrients. In fact, reading the labels on many of these munchies will have you heading straight for the berry patch. Don’t waste calories on these puffiness-producing troublemakers or fellow problem foods like saturated fats, butter and cheese, which are converted by the body into pro-inflammatory chemicals.
Keeping your fridge stocked with fruits, veggies, lean meats and fish can go a long way toward naturally easing inflammation in the body and reducing edema. Follow up a healthy meal of natural, unprocessed foods with a spot of herbal tea, put your feet up and watch uncomfortable swelling vanish.
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