Sep 05

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The unknown cause of Edema & Treatment for Swollen Feet

I promised you a mini-series of articles about edema and edema treatments and it is full time that I made good on that promise. If you missed the first installment in the series be sure to read “Is Turmeric A cure for Edema?”. Hope that it is helpful. Before we jump into to another edema treatment we might want to look at some causes of edema. Do you know what’s causing your edema? I was pretty surprised to find out what causes mine.

What is Edema Anyway?
Edema is basically swelling in the body caused by water retention. You can have swelling all over the body, internally and externally and most people get it in the extremities. This is when we get swollen ankles, swollen feet and legs.

Edema in my feet and legs

Swollen ankles, soles of feet and lower leg from edema

This is a condition that can happen to anyone although when I was younger I only saw it happening to alcoholics and the elderly. Well, I’m no longer an alcoholic and my family won’t be shipping me off to a home anytime soon, but I still wound up with it. But why? What is the cause of edema?

What Causes Edema?
When I asked people around me and even doctors they all just told me not to eat any salt. SALT? REALLY? All this is happening to me because of salt? I think not. My husband tried to get me to stop eating salt on my food and then realized I don’t really eat salt. If I ate any less salt it would throw my body out of whack. I mean I know I get salt in processed foods but what about when I was on a health kick and not eating anything but the good stuff? Why was it happening then? Well I traced it down and found out the culprit behind my enormous elephant like swollen ankles and swollen feet (bottoms). It is simply GRAIN. I realized it when I decided to try out a low carb lifestyle. I was exercising and trying to eat right so it could have been either of these things that did it but…then I let exercise fall by the wayside. I was munching away on veggies in butter (with salt), grass-fed organic meat (seasoned with salt), kefir, water, berries and smoothies and the swelling was no where in sight. Then one fateful night I went to Red Lobster. I love love love that freaking bread and I couldn’t resist eating it. I didn’t even try to resist it. I probably woofed down 2-3 biscuits and various other carbs that may have come with my meal.

The next day my legs were tight, my feet felt like I was balancing a bowl of jello on top of them and the soles of my feet were so full of water that it hurt to walk on them. I knew that it wasn’t the seafood that was an issue for me and I knew that I cheated and ate the grains (bad cavegirl) the day before. It happened just that fast. I put 2 & 2 together and it made 4. It was the bread!

Severe pitting edema of the lower extremities.

Severe pitting edema of the lower extremities.

After toying around with the theory for a little bit I took my suspicions to google and found that I’m not the only person who feels and looks bigger, fuller (wetter?) or more full of water after eating a sandwich, cake, cookies, cereal, pasta etc. It is actually pretty common. It appears that over the last 50 or so years the U.S. has been genetically modifying many grains by adding extra gluten in unnatural amounts. Gluten is a substance in grains like wheat, rye etc that gives bread it soft texture. People who take issue with gluten are said to either have celiac disease or to be gluten intolerant. (Also there are many people who DO NOT believe that humans are meant to eat grains at all in the first place. They practice the Caveman diet or Paleo diet). Of course I don’t know which I am because the doctor at the clinic blew it off when I told her. She mentioned cutting salt and not standing at work (I was sitting for 8 hours at the time). When I told her that grain caused my issues she just said “Well don’t eat it”. Thanks doc for the sound, well researched advice.
A couple of my theories: (What else can I give you? Its not like I can pay for a study.)
1. Modifying all the wheat supply without knowing the effects of the Frankenwheat on humans was a no-no.
2. People are also ingesting heavy doses of pesticides in commercially grown grains that have small amounts of studies about them but none with good results.
3. The USDA decided to take us away from our hunter/gatherer breakfasts and sell us on grains being healthy to eat, just to line their own pockets. They then made a food pyramid that told us we should be eating more grain than ANYTHING ELSE (didn’t it say 11+ servings of grain per day?).

My Recommended Edema Treatment
(This is what I recommend you do- as a nobody without a medical degree that did nothing other than perform an experiment on myself)- If you have issues with internal or external edema cut out all grain: wheat, barley, rice, corn, bread, cereal, quinoa, oatmeal, pasta etc. Try it out long enough to see if that is an issue for you. If everything is still the same then I guess this is not the issue that you have OR After you establish that it is, then you can slowly try out some of the less bad grains (single ingredient) to see if you can tolerate them. Some people can get away with oats, rice, quinoa etc. I got major swelling from eating quinoa that doesn’t have gluten so there is something else about grain that causes issues as well. I can’t pinpoint it but I don’t really need to right now because I’ve already shared the info that I wanted to share with you. I hope this is helpful to someone because it has helped me so much.
I am not a doctor and this information have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA. This information is anecdotal and not intended to take the place of medical care from an AMA certified doctor. Please seek the help of a physician in the event of a medical problem or emergency.

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1 comment

  1. Shirley C

    I have edema. I knew I had it in the feet and fingers but didn’t consider the rest of my body. My mom has often told me that I look swollen like I’m retaining a lot of fluid. I am to continue a grain free diet and I’ll try the turmeric too. I ate a strict low carb diet last week and definitely noticed that my ankles were not as swollen and my wedding band fit again so I will continue learning to give up the grains and hopefully it will help the edema go away. – Thank you.

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