Diet reduced fluid retention
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist
Client name and identifying information changed
Eileen had already been to her doctor to see why she suffered terrible fluid retention and all her tests came back fine, which was great, but didn’t solve the problem.
At the start of each day Eileen was okay, but by mid-afternoon she needed to have a rest to help ease the puffiness in her lower legs and feet. Her feet swelled up so much that she couldn’t put her shoes on in the afternoon and needed to use her slippers instead.
As a grandmother, Eileen was in charge of two little ones after school and it was hard for her to ‘run-around’ after them, so she would often let them watch TV with a snack, just so she could rest.
On examining her diet and daily activities, I discovered that she never drank water, but instead had two cups of tea and three cups of coffee each day, which she thought would be great for her fluid.
Her diet comprised of toast with jam and a cuppa for breakfast, scones with jam and cream and a cuppa for morning and afternoon tea, a bacon and tomato sauce sandwich or a tuna and lettuce sandwich for lunch with a cuppa, and dinner was usually some sort of meat (commonly silverside cured in salt) and vegetables, and she loved piling salt onto all her foods, irrespective of taste.
This combination was drying her up from the inside and making her cells hold onto what little water they could. This was her diet for the past 60 years so you can imagine the look on her face when I talked about changing her hot drinks over to herbal teas like Rooibos or hot or cold water with a splash of lemon or apple juice (or both together).
Apple juice in small amounts helps to hold water inside cells to re-hydrate them, and lemon helps to detoxify the liver. I explained that her body would be somewhat like a dry sponge and if she just drank plain water it would likely run straight through her. That’s a common comment I get from people who drink lots of water. Eileen had experienced this herself so she knew what I meant.
The foods and drinks she was consuming were dehydrating her body, so we needed to change her diet to rehydrate her cells (intracellular) which would facilitate fluid removal from outside her cells (extracellular) to restore her natural fluids balance.
Using small amounts of apple juice in her water (like making a cordial) can rehydrate and make a difference. Liquid chlorophyll in water can do the same thing. Eileen made the change, but still drank one cup of coffee per day and a small amount of chocolate as her ‘sweet treat’. (I needed to compromise to get her to comply).
We also needed to change her food. I asked her to stop the scones and jam and instead have some mixed chopped up fruit. That way she could still have something sweet which would add fluid to the inside of her cells rather than take it away.
I replaced her normal salt with potassium and herb salt, as potassium will help with fluid balance and she could then still have her foods tasting salty. The salty meats had to go and be replaced by ‘normal meats’ and loads more vegetables.
It didn’t take long for Eileen’s body to respond and by week two she was taking her grandkids to the park or local pool instead of being perched in front of the television all afternoon. Not only is this lifestyle healthier for Eileen, it was also benefitting her grandchildren.
I do hope they all stick with it.