February 02, 2021
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Water retention occurs when excess fluids build up inside your body. It is also known as fluid retention or edema.
Water retention occurs in the circulatory system or within tissues and cavities. It can cause swelling in the hands, feet, ankles and legs.
There are several reasons why it happens, many of which are not serious.
Some women experience water retention during pregnancy or before their monthly period.
People who are physically inactive, such as when bedridden or sitting through long flights, may also be affected.
However, water retention can also be a symptom of a severe medical condition like kidney disease or heart failure. If you’re experiencing sudden or severe water retention, seek medical attention immediately.
Yet, in cases where the swelling is mild and there is no underlying health condition, you may be able to reduce water retention with a few simple tricks.
Here are 6 ways to reduce water retention:
1. Eat less salt
Salt is made of sodium and chloride.
Sodium binds to water in the body and helps maintain the balance of fluids both inside and outside of cells.
If you often eat meals that are high in salt, such as many processed foods, your body may retain water. “Salt is hidden in so many things, especially at restaurants because it’s a tremendous flavor boost for very little money,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, creator of BetterThanDieting.com . In fact, more than 70 percent of dietary sodium is found in restaurant dishes, fast foods, and packaged snacks. The most common advice for reducing water retention is to decrease sodium intake.
2. Increase your magnesium intake
Magnesium is a very important mineral.
In fact, it is involved in more than 300 enzymatic reactions that keep the body functioning.
Moreover, increasing your magnesium intake may help reduce water retention.
One study found that 200 mg of magnesium per day reduced water retention in women with premenstrual symptoms (PMS).
Other studies in women with PMS have reported similar results.
Good sources of magnesium include nuts, whole grains, dark chocolate and leafy, green vegetables. It’s also available as a supplement.
3. Increase vitamin B6 intake
Vitamin B6 is a group of several related vitamins.
They are important for the formation of red blood cells and serve many other functions in the body.
Vitamin B6 has been shown to reduce water retention in women with premenstrual syndrome.
Foods rich in vitamin B6 include bananas, potatoes, walnuts and meat.
4. Eat more potassium-rich foods
Potassium is a mineral that serves several important functions.
For example, it helps send the electrical signals that keep the body running. It may also benefit heart health.
Potassium appears to help reduce water retention in two ways, by decreasing sodium levels and increasing urine production. Think of potassium as the yin to sodium’s yang. Research in the American Journal of Kidney Disease links higher dietary potassium with less sodium in the kidneys, and thus, reduce water retention and blood pressure.
Bananas, avocados and tomatoes are examples of foods that are high in potassium.
5. Try taking dandelion
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is an herb that has been used as a natural diuretic in folk medicine for a long time.
Natural diuretics may help reduce water retention by making you pee more often.
In one study, 17 volunteers took three doses of dandelion leaf extract over a 24-hour period. They monitored their fluid intake and output during the following days and reported a significant increase in the amount of urine produced.
Though this was a small study with no control group, the results indicate that dandelion extract may be an effective diuretic. What’s more, studies suggest that dandelion may have many other potential benefits.
6. Avoid refined carbs
Eating refined carbs leads to rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels.
High insulin levels cause your body to retain more sodium by increasing the reabsorption of sodium in the kidneys. This leads to more fluid volume inside your body.
“When you consume carbs and don’t use them for fuel right away, your body converts them to glycogen. This is stored in the muscles for energy,” Amy Shapiro, RD, founder of Real Nutrition in New York City, explains. Approximately one percent of your muscle mass is straight glycogen, while eight percent of your liver’s weight is glycogen. For every gram of glycogen stored in those areas, you gain about 2.7 grams of water along with it.
Examples of refined carbs include processed sugars and grains, such as table sugar and white flour.
Other ways to reduce water retention
There are a few other potentially effective ways to reduce water retention. But keep in mind that some of these are only supported by anecdotal evidence, not studies.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Some simple dietary changes may help reduce water retention.
For starters, you can try eating less salt, for example by cutting back on processed foods.
You can also consume foods that are rich in magnesium, potassium and vitamin B6.
Taking some dandelion or avoiding refined carbs may also do the trick.
However, if water retention persists or causes a lot of problems in your life, then you may want to see a doctor.
Source: HealthLine, Prevention
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