Water retention, also known as edema, is the build-up of fluid in the circulatory system or within tissues and cavities. It can cause swelling in the hands, feet, ankles and legs and is common in women during pregnancy or before their period.
It also affects people who are physically inactive, such as someone who is bedridden, sitting through a long flight or one on long-term medications.
Although many of the causes of water retention are non-life-threatening, it can also be a symptom of severe medical conditions such as kidney disease or heart failure. However, in cases where there is no underlying health condition, there are ways to avoid water retention and reduce the swelling caused by it.
Here are some common reasons for water retention. When you understand the cause of your water retention, you will be able to reverse it by avoiding or stopping the very thing that is causing it.
1. Excessive Sodium Intake
When you eat foods that are high in (refined) salt and drinking insufficient water, your body goes into “reserve mode” and begins to retain water. Your cells may expand about 20x over with water, to dilute the salty environment.
Salt isn’t the only commonly consumed product that is high in sodium. Processed food products such as processed meat, certain condiments and even canned vegetables have all been found to have a high sodium content.
On the other hand, there is natural salt that don’t cause water retention, but in fact can help to reverse the condition. Drinking water with Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt have the opposite effect of the damages that table salt does.
2. Magnesium Deficiency
One of the symptoms of magnesium deficiency is water retention. Almost every function in our body requires magnesium, therefore, a deficiency in this mineral may cause various functions in the body to be performing below optimal level, thus contributing to water retention.
One study found that 200 mg of magnesium per day reduced water retention in women who are experiencing premenstrual symptoms. Adding foods that are rich in magnesium in your diet, or taking a high quality magnesium supplement may help to relieve this condition.
Foods rich in magnesium include avocados, dark green vegetables, nuts, whole grains, spinach, peas, yogurt, dark chocolate and dried fruits.
3. Deficiency In Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 controls many aspects of water balance in the body, therefore, a deficiency in this vitamin may contribute to water retention.
According to a study conducted by the Journal of Caring Sciences, women who were experiencing water retention due to premenstrual syndrome benefitted from taking vitamin B6.
During the clinical trial the women reported that they found vitamin B6 helped reduce their symptoms more efficiently than any of the other supplements that they were given.
Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin that requires various cofactors to work, thus it’s best to obtain it from whole foods instead of from supplement.
Foods rich in vitamin B6 include sunflower seeds, pistachio nuts, dried fruit, bananas, potatoes (with skin), tuna, chicken, turkey and lean beef.
4. Lack Of Potassium
Potassium is an essential mineral responsible for proper function of cells, tissues, and organs in the body. It is an electrolyte which is required to maintain a normal water balance in the body.
High consumption of salt, too much sweating through exercise, not eating foods rich in this mineral can cause a depletion of potassium, which then lead to edema or water retention.
Potassium helps reduce water retention in the body by reducing the sodium level, and by increasing the body’s production of urine.
Most fruits have high potassium content and it’s especially high in watermelon, rockmelon and honeymelon. Adding more fruits and vegetables in your diet is a good way to obtain this mineral, instead of taking supplements that may cause side effects.
Not drinking enough water can cause a dehydration issue in your body. When you are dehydrated, your intelligent body goes into survival mode and retains water “in fear of drought”.
Regularly drinking plenty of water and juices that are rich in potassium will alleviate this condition, by telling your body that “there is no drought” and there is no need to retain water.
Understand how much water you need to drink daily, drink that amount and more until your water retention subsides. Coffee, soda drinks don’t contribute to your water quota and in fact further dehydrate your cells.
6. Eating Too Much Processed Foods
Processed foods not only have high content of sodium and sugar, they also contain various artificial food additives that work as toxins that burden your liver and kidneys.
Foods high in sugar, especially in artificial sweeteners cause rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels that will require your cells to retain more sodium by increasing re-absorption of sodium in the kidneys.
Cut down on your intake of processed foods. Juice fasting is a good way to detoxify your body of toxins to keep your body in tip-top condition and be rid of chronic ailments.
Herbs That Are Beneficial For Reducing Water Retention
There are a few herbs that can be potentially beneficial for reducing water retention by their diuretic properties. However, keep in mind that these are only supported by anecdotal evidence, not lab studies.
- Parsley—go to this page for parsley tea recipe
- Corn silk
Sodium and Fluid Retention: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2957126
Magnesium and Water Retention: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9861593
B6 and Premenstrual Syndrome: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25276694
Potassium and Water Retention: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9428447
Dandelion as a Diuretic: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19678785