Foods that Cause Swelling in the Feet
Foods that Cause Swelling in the Feet
Swollen feet can keep you from doing the activities you love and can even be painful. Swelling can occur during pregnancy, menstruation, or even after sitting or standing for too long. Autoimmune, cardiovascular, kidney, and liver diseases as well as lymphedema and arthritis can cause swelling. Obesity, infections, and allergies can increase the risk of swelling in the feet as well. Certain foods can also cause swelling in the feet. Below is a list of foods that cause swelling and puffiness:
List of Foods that Cause Swelling in the Feet
Although everyone needs some salt, too much sodium (salt) causes your body to hold onto water. Excess water can build up in your feet, causing swelling. Most Americans are eating more salt than needed, but there are some things we can do to lower our salt consumption:
- Take the saltshaker off the table.
Many foods already contain salt due to processing, so when we sprinkle the saltshaker over our already-prepared foods, we are probably adding more salt than we need. To add flavor, try sprinkling your food with garlic powder (not garlic salt) or black pepper.
- Limit your intake of ultra-processed foods.
Heavily processed foods are often laden with salt. Instead of eating foods like luncheon meats or packaged pastries, try eating mostly whole foods.
- When choosing packaged foods, look for “lower salt” or “salt-free” on the label.
Also, look for packages that list whole foods as the first ingredient and have a simple ingredients list. When reading the back label, look for products that have less than 140 mg of salt per serving. These products are considered low in salt.
Chronic inflammation can also contribute to swelling in the feet, and certain foods are considered pro-inflammatory. Consider limiting your intakes of the following pro-inflammatory foods:
- Fried foods
- Ultra-processed foods
- Refined grains
- Refined sugar
- Foods containing Trans-fat
Not only do these foods increase the risk of swelling, but they also promote the growth of “bad” bacteria in the gut and increase the risk of gut imbalance. Eating these foods in excess can increase the risk of chronic conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and some cancers. High intakes of these foods are associated with decreased immunity and increased prevalence of mood disorders like depression, anxiety, and stress. They may also worsen symptoms of ADHD and autism (1, 2).
Foods that Promote Weight Gain
We all come in different shapes and sizes and a healthy weight looks different for everyone. However, excess weight can put more strain on our feet when we stand or walk, increasing the risk of swelling. Moreover, obesity increases the risk of developing many medical conditions that contribute to feet swelling.
All the above pro-inflammatory foods can also contribute to weight gain, and foods low in fiber and high in sugar can hinder weight goals. Fiber helps your body feel full. Inversely, you may have noticed that you never seem to feel full after eating low fiber foods, and you may find yourself hungry again soon after you have eaten.
The same is true for sugary foods or foods lacking in nutrients (i.e. empty calorie foods). In addition, sugar causes insulin levels to spike, which promotes fat storage.
Foods that Help with Swelling Feet
Limiting these pro-swelling foods may help reduce swelling in the feet. However, along with limiting certain foods, you can also add foods to your diet that have been shown to help with swelling in the feet. Food that are considered natural diuretics and anti-inflammatory foods have been shown to help with swelling.
Eat Anti-inflammatory Foods to Reduce Swelling
Anti-inflammatories do the opposite of the pro-inflammatory foods we talk about earlier. Anti-inflammatories can reduce swelling caused by chronic inflammation as well as offer protection against a host of other medical conditions like cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases as well as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia. They also decrease the risk of mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
Anti-inflammatory foods include:
- Fruits, especially berries
- Vegetables, especially dark leafy greens
- Teas, like green tea, matcha green tea, and chamomile tea
- Salmon and tuna, thanks to their omega-3 content
- Nuts and seeds, like walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and hemp seeds
- Herbs and spices, like parsley, turmeric, and ginger
- Dark chocolate, thanks to its antioxidant content
You may also want to consider taking a supplement that provides a variety of anti-inflammatories in one. Swell No More contains several anti-inflammatories like rutin, quercetin, bromelain, Boswellia Serrata, green tea extract, parsley, ginger, and turmeric.
Consider Adding Natural Diuretics to Reduce Swelling
A natural diuretic may help your body get rid of excess water. When excess water builds up in your feet, swelling can occur. Some examples of natural diuretics are green tea, dandelion root, parsley, juniper berry, and cornsilk (3, 4, 5, 6).
In one study, rats who were given parsley significantly eliminated a larger volume of urine within 24 hours (3). In another study, the frequency of urination increased after participants were given dandelion supplements, and a review published in Molecule noted that some studies observed diuretic properties in cornsilk (4,5). In other research, Raina, R. et al. suggests that Juniper berries can increase urine output without the loss of electrolytes (6).
These are a few of the studies suggesting the diuretic activities of these supplements. Many of these natural diuretics also provide other benefits. Green tea is rich in antioxidants and may promote feelings of calm. Juniper berries are rich in polyphenol flavonoid catechins, rutin, luteolin, and vitamin C, which are strong anti-inflammatory antioxidants. Parsley is a good source of immune-supporting vitamin C, and Dandelion root contains vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and polyphenol antioxidants. Dandelion root is also prebiotic, which is important for gut health. Cornsilk exhibits antioxidant activities and may help regulate blood sugar levels (5).
Both natural diuretics and anti-inflammatories can help reduce swelling. These natural diuretics as well as the anti-inflammatories, rutin, quercetin, bromelain, Boswellia Serrata, green tea extract, parsley, ginger, and turmeric are found in Swell No More. You can learn more about Swell No More and its 17 anti-inflammatory and diuretic ingredients here.
*Please schedule an appointment with your doctor if you are suffering from chronic edema. You should also talk with your doctor about any possible interactions your supplements might have with your specific medications or medical conditions.
About the Author
Lacy Ngo, MS, RDN is a registered dietitian with a Master of Science in Human Nutrition. She is also the author of several books, including The Nourishing Meal Builder, and The Nourishing Meal Builder: The Pescatarian Edition. Ngo has been featured and quoted in Media Outlets like Parade Magazine, The Healthy, Eat This, Not That!, VeryWell Fit, Byrdie, and Authority Magazine.