Swollen feet and ankles are a fairly common but certainly unpleasant condition, brought on by a variety of causes—air travel, sprained ankle, pregnancy, or edema. Edema is created by an excess of fluid in the space between body cells, and/or in the circulatory system. Besides feet, edema can swell up in hands, heart, lungs, and stomach. Tightness in the hand when a fist is made, rings seeming to be on too tight, distended belly—all signs of edema.
But a swollen ankle or joint after a twisted fall is probably not edema, but still requires fast care. Elevate your sprained ankle as much as possible—gravity draws out the fluid. Certain medications cause swelling of the lower joints. And there are good home remedies for swollen joints; eating some foods and refraining from others will also speed your recovery.
Besides calming jittery nerves, easing a raw throat, and cleaning a cutting board, lemon juice is also a diuretic. Lemon juice is helpful for lowering high blood pressure, increasing elimination, and treating urinary tract infections. A few drops in a glass of hot water with honey is delicious.
A gentle detoxifier, anti-nausea agent, and helps the body rid itself of waste fluids. Ginger root makes a healthful tea (especially with lemon), or you can zest the root over salads and in breads and cookies. Ginger root has been used in Chinese medicine for several thousand years to treat swelling and other conditions.
A member of the gourd factory, cucumbers are made mainly of water, and are technically considered fruits. Strong detoxifiers, cucumbers slices placed over the eyes will reduce wrinkle signs and puffiness. Their watery makeup encourages bodies to move fluids out, very useful for decreasing swelling.
It seems counterintuitive: drink water to lose fluids? The body needs to continually ingest water to pass other waste fluids and materials. Humans are seventy percent water, and even mild dehydration will cause our bodies to hang onto water to keep the levels steady. Eight 8 ounce glasses of water daily is a good baseline, drink more than this if you’re trying to pass fluids.
Eggplant is a cousin of tomato and potato plants (all are in the genus Solanum, which also includes deadly nightshade, one of the most hallucinogenic plants on earth). Egglplant itself was cultivated from a lethal flora, datura (thorn apple, devil’s trumpet). In the United Kingdom, the eggplant is called an aubergine. But enough history; eggplants are a fine choice for cleansing your system—they’re a strong diuretic, draining out fluids and waste material.
6. Cranberry juice
Possibly the strongest diuretic on this list, tart cranberry juice is also a great choice for quick detoxification. It’s got a host of antioxidants, and cranberry juice does not impact potassium levels, as some of the more lab engineered detox drinks do. Cranberry juice treats urinary tract infections too. Chose a no sugar added, organic juice for best results.
7. Coffee or black tea
Two other drinks that encourage swift elimination of fluid, coffee and black tea contain good doses of caffeine. Their naturally occurring caffeine helps to move waste fluids out of the body. Artificially caffeinated drinks, like soda and energy drinks, have the same result, but with a harsher process. Black coffee, a comforting diuretic for millions of people, also contains antioxidants, a gift from plants to our cells.
Tomatoes contain antioxidants too; their main polyphenol (technical term for antioxidant) is lycopene, a cancer-preventing agent. Tomatoes are also diuretic in nature, composed mostly of water. Eating tomatoes raw, with no salt added, is the best way to go, or try gently sautéing cheery tomatoes with olive oil and basil leaves, over whole grain pasta, for a healthy and delicious dinner.
A treat of mid summer, watermelons can be a whole meal—despite being mainly water, they’re very dense fruits. Watermelon cleanses the body of waste water and salt, sometimes very quickly. And this fruit contains lycopene and other antioxidants. Juice watermelons at home, add seltzer water, and enjoy a fizzy pink drink. Melon slices freeze well, and tastes great with vanilla sorbet.
Celery is what’s called a “zero calorie food”; you burn more calories chewing and digesting a celery stalk than it actually contains. Layers of cellulose make celery quite chewy, but the plant is made up of a lot of water too. Both of these qualities make celery good for cleansing the system of fluids while calming hunger; the long time spent chewing a celery stalk fakes the brain into thinking it’s full faster. Blending celery in a smoothie will make it easier to digest, without losing its diuretic properties.