Water retention 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 or sitting through a long flight.
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 avoid water retention and reduce the swelling caused by it.
Here are 6 simple tricks to reduce water retention.
1. Avoid Sodium
The most common advice given to people who want to reduce their water retention is to avoid the use of salt. This is due to the fact that salt is made up of sodium chloride.
Sodium binds water to the body and helps maintain the balance of fluids inside your body. However, there are many studies that have found that increased sodium intake leads to an increased retention of fluid inside the body.
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.
Bottom Line: Sodium can bind to water in the body, and decreasing your salt intake may help reduce water retention.
2. Increase Your Magnesium Intake
Increasing your magnesium intake may help reduce water retention. One study found that 200 mg of magnesium per day reduced water retention in women who are experiencing premenstrual symptoms.
Foods rich in magnesium include nuts, whole grains, spinach and peas. It can also be consumed in the form of a supplement.
Bottom Line: Magnesium has been shown to reduce water retention in women who are experiencing premenstrual symptoms.
3. Increase Vitamin B6 Intake
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.
Foods rich in vitamin B6 include bananas, potatoes (with skin), tuna and pork.
Bottom Line: Vitamin B6 may help reduce water retention, especially in women with premenstrual syndrome.
4. Eat More Potassium-Rich Foods
Foods high in potassium include apricots, beets, Brussels sprouts and bananas
Bottom Line: Potassium may reduce water retention by increasing the production of urine and decreasing the amount of sodium in the body.
5. Try Taking Dandelion
Dandelion is an herb that is commonly used as a medicine to treat ailments ranging from joint pain to eczema.
In traditional medicine, dandelion has often been used as a diuretic. Dandelion has been proven to increase urination when taken in the form of a leaf extract. This may result in a reduction in water retention as it causes people to release fluid more often.
Although this was a small study with no control group, the results indicate that dandelion extract may be an effective diuretic.
Bottom Line: Dandelion may help reduce water retention, especially when consumed as a leaf extract.
6. Avoid Refined Carbs
This leads to more fluid volume inside the body.
Bottom Line: Eating refined carbs can increase insulin levels in the body. Insulin increases the re-absorption of sodium in the kidneys, leading to increased fluid volume.
Other Ways To Reduce Water Retention
Reducing water retention is something that hasn’t been studied much.
However, there are a few other potentially effective ways to reduce water retention.
Keep in mind that some of these are only supported by anecdotal evidence, not studies.
- Move around: Simply walking and moving around a bit can be effective at reducing fluid build-up in some areas, such as the lower limbs. Elevating your feet can also help.
- Drink more water: Some believe that increasing water intake can paradoxically reduce water retention (15).
- Horsetail: One study found that the horsetail herb has diuretic effects (16).
- Parsley: This herb has a reputation as a diuretic in folk medicine (17).
- Hibiscus: Roselle, a species of hibiscus, has been used in folk medicine as a diuretic. A recent study also supports this (18).
- Garlic: Well known for its effect on the common cold, garlic has historically been used as a diuretic (19, 20).
- Fennel: This plant may also have diuretic effects (21).
- Corn silk: This herb is traditionally used for the treatment of water retention in some parts of the world (22).
- Nettle: This is another folk remedy used to reduce water retention (23).
- Cranberry juice: It has been claimed that cranberry juice can have diuretic effects.
Bottom Line: Some other foods and methods may help reduce water retention, but their effects have not been widely studied.
Refined carbs and insulin: authoritynutrition.com
Salt (NaCl): http://www.britannica.com/science/salt
Sodium and Fluid Retention: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2957126
Processed Foods and Sodium: http://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Minerals/Food-Sources-of-Sodium.aspx
Magnesium and Water Retention: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9861593
Foods high in Magnesium: http://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Minerals/Food-Sources-of-Magnesium.aspx
B6 and Premenstrual Syndrome: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25276694
Potassium Function: https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/potassium
Potassium and Heart Health: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21371638
Potassium and Water Retention: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9428447
Foods high in Potassium: http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/high-potassium-foods-topic-overview
Dandelion as a Diuretic: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19678785
Refined Carbs and Insulin: http://authoritynutrition.com/why-refined-carbs-are-bad/
Insulin and Sodium Retention: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21629870
Examples of Refined Carbs: http://authoritynutrition.com/how-many-carbs-per-day-to-lose-weight/
Water Retention: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/187978.php
Inactivity and Water Retention: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/water-retention/art-20044983