Water retention, also known as edema, is a condition characterized by increased fluid buildup inside the body. It can lead to noticeable swelling in the legs, ankles, and hands.
Water retention occurs because of many reasons; however, not all of them are serious. During pregnancy, many women experience water retention. It can also occur if you sit for long hours continuously, for example during a long flight.
However, fluid retention (another name by which water retention is commonly referred) can also a symptom of many medical conditions, some of which are serious like heart failure or kidney disease.
If you think that you may have severe fluid retention, it is best to consult a doctor immediately. However, if your water retention is mild and you do not have any known worrying health conditions, the following tips might suffice in treating it.
Reduce Your Salt Intake
Thanks to its ability to bind to water, salt plays a key role in maintaining fluid balance inside our body cells and outside. Because of this very same characteristic, however, too much salt can also result in water retention and consequently, your risk to several health conditions.
One way to keep a check on your intake of salt is to cut down or completely avoid processed foods, most of which are high in sodium. Apart from that, processed foods are mostly unhealthy and are linked with a greater risk to many diseases.
Vitamin B6 is important for several reasons, one of which is for red blood cells formation. They may also help in reducing fluid retention, especially in premenstrual women.
Bananas, meat, walnuts, and potatoes are all rich in Vitamin B6. Include them in your diet to increase the intake of Vitamin B6.
Magnesium is perhaps the most important mineral in our body. It is used in over 300 chemical reactions that ensure the body functions properly. It may also be helpful in reducing water retention.
According to one human study, consumption of 200 mg of magnesium every day lowered water retention in premenstrual women. Other studies done on premenstrual women have revealed similar results too.
Excellent sources of magnesium include whole grains, vegetables (green leafy vegetables, broccoli, and squash), legumes, nuts, and seeds. ‘Hard’ water is also a good source of magnesium, as are chocolate, meat, coffee, and dairy products. Magnesium supplements are also available in the market.
Reduce Intake Of Refined Carbs
When you eat refined carbohydrates, the level of blood sugar and insulin increases. Increased insulin levels lead to sodium retention in the body, which in turn increases fluid retention. For this reason, you should limit the intake of refined carbohydrates which are found in abundance in processed grains (like white flour, white bread) and sugar.
A natural diuretic, dandelion is an herb and folk medicine. Because of its diuretic abilities, dandelion can aid the removal of excess water by increasing urine amounts.
In a study, participants were given 3 doses of this herb in 24 hours. During the next few days, the participants reported a substantial increment in the urine amount.
However, it has to be noted that this was only a small study group of seventeen people only. Bigger studies with the control group will be more conclusive, but the finding of this small study, nevertheless, is a good enough reason to try the leaf extract of dandelion for one or two times at least.
Potassium is used in the body for several important functions and is also helpful in reducing water retention.
This mineral works in two ways: it increases the production of urine, and at the same time reduces sodium levels.
Some of the foods that are a great source of potassium include tomatoes, avocados, and bananas. Other food sources of this mineral are sweet potatoes, broccoli, white beans, fat-free yogurt, cantaloupe, lentils, pistachios, salmon, and chicken breast.
Some other ways of reducing water retention:
Not many in-depth studies have been conducted to understand water retention better and to identify possible ways to deal with it. That being said, there are some other ways for lowering water retention as well. Although all of these additional ways are only supported by anecdotal evidence, they are nevertheless worth giving a try.
- Increase your water intake: It may sound paradoxical, but many are of the opinion that increasing the intake of water daily can help lower water retention, as claimed to have worked for them.
- Move around and be active: Walking is a great remedy for water retention, especially if the swelling is in the lower limbs. Even if walking in your case does not lead to a reduction in water retention, at the very least, it will ensure you get a little bit of exercise daily.
- Parsley: In folk medicine, parsley is often used as a diuretic, which you may recall from above is helpful in providing relief from fluid retention.
- Horsetail: A diuretic, horsetail is purported to be beneficial for fluid retention patients.
- Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa): This species of Hibiscus is native to Africa (West Africa to be specific), and has been used in the form of a diuretic in folk medicine.
- Corn silk: In certain regions of the world, corn silk is used for curing water retention in traditional medicine.
- Cranberry juice: This is another food which is supposed to possess to be diuretic and so is considered helpful for someone with water retention.
All these natural remedies can be safely tried by yourself. However, in case you have some health conditions like high blood pressure, it is best you consult your doctor before using any of these remedies. You should also consult your doctor if any of these herbal remedies cause any side effects.