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How to Fix the Swollen and Puffy Face and Eyes

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

When you look back at my old videos, you'll see that I had big puffy eyes, dark circles, and swelling all over the skin on my face. That is because I was suffering from a common issue that many people have: a buildup of fluid in my body. So what is the trick to fix this problem? Should you be using tea bags, eye cream, or cucumber slices on the eyelids? What about diuretics? In this article, I'll share with you the true way to fix puffy eyes and face from the root of the problem.

I will cover:


Why do I have a puffy face and eyes?

When you have that puffy look around your eyes and the skin on your face, there is one thing going on: too much fluid in the body.

Man looks into camera with red, swollen, puffy eyes and face, edema.

This is referred to as edema. It is a type of swelling that occurs when fluid builds up. The fluid is inside and outside of the cells, and it fills up the interstitial spaces (the spaces around the cells).

Although it might be most obvious when you look at your face and your skin, the fluid isn't just built up there. It is also building up in the cells all over your body – in your liver, in your ankles, etc.


The two types of edema

There are two main types of edema. Fluid retention and the resulting swelling can be categorized as either:

  1. Idiopathic edema. Idiopathic means having no known cause. For people with this type, there is no medical condition to blame. They don't have a problem in their heart, liver, or kidneys, but they still have edema.
  2. Pathogenic edema. Pathogenic means that it is caused by some underlying problem or medical condition. For example, you may have a problem with your liver and cirrhosis. That can result in fluid leaking out into the gut. Or, you may have diabetes and this could cause edema and swelling in the feet, hands, and more.

    Two legs next to each other, one normal and one with edema and severe swelling.

Common treatments for edema

So what is done when people have edema and there is no underlying condition causing it?

There are three main ways that doctors will approach edema:

  1. Use diuretics.
  2. Limit salt intake and restrict high-sodium foods.
  3. Suggest compression stockings.

All-natural home remedies also look to treat the symptoms of puffy eyes and face with things like over-the-counter eye creams, eye drops, tea bags, cold compresses, or cucumbers on the eyelids.

While all of these options might help to bring down symptoms of puffy eyes and face temporarily, they do not address the true root cause of the issue.

So how can we actually look at what is causing the problem in the first place and make changes to reduce our symptoms from the root?


The true cause of fluid retention and puffiness

Unless there is an underlying medical condition to blame, what is really behind edema and eye puffiness is a high-carbohydrate diet.
Chalkboard with word CARBS written on it, surrounded by carbs like bread, apples, potatoes, pasta.

Eating too many carbs will cause you to get fluid retention, and that will result in the puffiness that you are worried about.

The average American consumes between 250-400 grams of carbs per day. These aren't healthy carbs from veggies, but rather unhealthy carbs from refined grains and sugar.

One of the problems with this is that each gram of carb holds 3 g of water. So when you eat carbs, you are basically consuming a sponge. And you will become water logged in your muscles, liver, skin, and all of your tissues.

In addition to that issue, eating lots of carbs also contributes to puffy eyes and face because it:

  • Increases inflammation.
  • Makes you retain salt.
  • Depletes potassium reserves.

One major issue with this is that too much sodium and too little potassium make fluid retention much worse. So the more that we eat carbs, and the more we get our sodium/potassium levels imbalanced, the worse the problem becomes.

This is something I learned firsthand...

As I mentioned above, I know all about edema and puffiness because I experienced it myself. For me, the problem was because of my carb intake.

I ate a lot of sugars in the form of fruits. I loved honeycrisp apples (which are full of sugar) and ate them a lot. I also snacked constantly, which doesn't help anything. These habits were the main problems behind my puffiness.

So now that we know what causes that look of swollen eyes and face, what can we change to make things better?

Woman with concerned look on her face points to her eye and presses on puffy eyes and swollen face.

How to fix swollen and puffy eyes and face

There are two simple things you can do that will fix your swollen skin problem right away:

1. Eat fewer carbs.

You need to limit your carb intake to less than 50 g per day. This is the major problem behind edema.

This was the key for me. As soon as I cut the apples and sugars out of my diet, my fluid went right down. I went from 211 pounds to 180. Most of that was fluid due to my high sugar and carb intake from fruit.

2. Consume more potassium.

As I mentioned above, we need a healthy balance of sodium to potassium to keep our fluid levels in check. We need a lot of potassium to keep this in balance. The RDA (recommended daily allowance) for potassium is very high. So you'll want to increase your intake and eat a lot of leafy greens and other sources of potassium.

Assorted mixed green leafy vegetables, healthy foods high in potassium.

If you take the two steps listed above, this should fix your problem really easily and quickly.


The bottom line

If you have puffy eyes and face swelling, don't worry. I've been there, and I've had the same problem. I've had that look of puffy eyes, face swelling, and dark circles myself.

The good news is that puffy eyes and swollen skin are usually caused by a simple problem. Which means that there is a really simple fix. No need for home remedies like cucumbers on the eyelids or diuretic medications.

For most people, edema and swelling are caused by too many carbs in the diet.

When we eat too many carbs, we end up with a lot of fluid retention and the unpleasant look of swollen and puffy eyes and face.

The solution is easy, and you can fix your problem right away. What you've got to do are two simple things:

  1. Limit your carb intake to less than 50 g per day.
  2. Eat more potassium-rich foods like spinach, Swiss chard, winter squash, and avocado.

Do you have this common issue? Try the two things listed above and see what happens. Then share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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