That Puffy Face: Causes and Solutions

April 22nd, 2010

That Puffy Face: Causes and Solutions

Mornings, for some, are a discouraging part of the day. Waking up can be hard enough...and then you look in the mirror. “Whoa!” you say. “What happened?”

You can try a cold washcloth, as I have. But it only goes so far to bring down the puffiness in your face.

Your face, as a highly visible and sensitive part of your body (and a part of your body’s largest organ—your skin) is your canary in the coal mine. Your face is often the first part of your body to let you know something’s wrong inside. In my twenties and thirties, I always had a puffy face. What causes this often heartbreaking, beauty-robbing condition? I’ll begin with the obvious causes...

Are you getting the right amount of sleep? Fatigue and stress will show themselves on your face whether you “let” them or not—no amount of any kind of beauty cream can disguise this condition. Why do you think they call it “beauty sleep”?

Notice my question asked whether you got the right amount of sleep—not “enough.” The fact is, you can get too much sleep. If you feel stressed or overwhelmed by life, you might oversleep, or be prone to take several naps during the day. Obviously if you’re pregnant, for example, this is understandable. But too much sleep furthers fluid retention. As Goldilocks would put it, the amount of sleep you get should be “just right.”

In my case, the issue wasn’t sleep per se. The problem ran deeper. Fact: You have twice as much lymph fluid in your body as blood. Lymph, a gel-like substance, bathes each cell and drains away the detritus from other systems in the body. It’s activated only by your breathing and movement. Sometimes, your lymphatic system can get blocked up and reduce drainage. The result (among others): swelling and a puffy face. Lymphatic material retained in underlying tissues is the most common cause of morning facial puffiness. An overall body cleansing, through water and juice fasting, is the most direct answer. Weekly 24 to 36-hour fasting and eating raw foods helped me resolve this issue.

When that puffiness is gone, you’ll see the real you emerge—leaner, more natural, better looking. It’s a fascinating experience—not to mention delightful—to see your cheekbones become more pronounced, your double chin and jowls giving way to sleeker contours. And, all of a sudden, your “bad hair day” doesn’t matter so much, because your face no longer needs your hair to frame your face and disguise and hide that swelling. Suddenly, you’re looking at your best self!

It’s possible, too, that an underactive thyroid might be a reason that your lymphatic system isn’t draining properly. This is not a matter to be trifled with, and is beyond my expertise. If you have any reason to suspect this issue is in play, do consult your qualified health professional.

Here’s a cause you might find surprising…Dehydration just might be the main cause of your body’s water-retention! If you are dehydrated, your body attempts to store as much water as possible to compensate. If you are eating too many dehydrated foods and not enough raw vegetables, you will be susceptible to dehydration. The purest water you can find will be in raw vegetables. Most vegetables are 60 to 70 percent water. So, if you are eating only a little salad, along with a majority cooked or dehydrated foods, a few glasses of water a day won’t do the trick. You might need a lot of free water during your cleansing phase. But always keep in mind: You’ll find the purest water in raw vegetables and fruits.

Salt and carbohydrates are also your enemies. Foods high in salt or carbohydrates are often linked to morning facial swelling. Forget that salt-shaker! But also try to stay away from other sources of salt people often forget if they are still not raw—soy sauce, condiments like mustard, relish, ketchup, some cereals, canned soups, meats, cheeses, salad dressings. Indeed, anything that comes in a jar or a can tends to be loaded with salt. Even when we try to eat healthy by reading labels, we often miss. When the label says “low sugar,” do read on—this often means high salt.

Movement matters. Your lymph system is activated by movement. From my experience, Hot Yoga has met every need I have when it comes to exercise. The deep stretching of muscles keeps the circulation going. You sweat out impure fluids in your body and release fresh blood in every area as you compress, stretch and breathe. Yoga also cleans your lymphatic system and circulates the blood throughout your body. This is most helpful in releasing unwanted water retention.

Consider not only what you eat, but when. Eating late in the day denies your body the time it needs to rid itself efficiently of liquids it’s no longer using. Because I have been on a completely raw food diet for twelve years, my body does not need as much food as it once did. By avoiding eating after 2:00 PM every day, I allow my digestive system to rest, letting the body dispose of toxins and unnecessary fluids. Well timed eating works wonders. You can read more about this diet and its undeniable health and beauty benefits in my book Quantum Eating. If you are a beginner in the raw foods lifestyle, it might take a couple years to reach that point. But pursued intelligently and long term, the Quantum Eating program could be the best answer to looking your best in the morning!

Keep this as a long term goal. In the meantime, keep two tablespoons in your freezer. Upon awakening, use one of them to massage your entire face. When the spoon loses its coolness, repeat the procedure with the second spoon. This should help you to get by until the results of your improved diet and yoga practice will show up on your face.

Don’t despair—it will happen!