Water retention, sometimes referred to by its medical name of edema, can occur naturally in women or be the result of serious medical conditions.
Fluid retention in women is naturally associated with pregnancy and for some women, also with their monthly cycle. Lack of physical activity for extended periods of time, when bedridden from an injury or on long flights for example, can also cause temporary water retention.
Edema can also indicate, however, more serious medical conditions if you have no history of fluid retention and you notice the symptoms suddenly. Some of these conditions include:
- Reactions to medication
- Kidney disease
- Cirrhosis of the liver
In a great many cases however, fluid retention is a fairly common and a relatively harmless, though certainly uncomfortable condition. You can take some simple steps to avoid or reduce your water retention and alleviate the discomfort it causes.
1. Reduce Salt Intake
Most processed foods are loaded with salt, a prime factor in water retention. The sodium in salt binds with water and influences the flow of water throughout the body. While salt is important for proper functioning of the body, evidence shows that it will help us to retain water.
Watch the nutrition labels and eat a low-sodium diet in order to flush water through your body more rapidly, but keep in mind the body’s need for salt in hot climates.
2. Take Your Vitamins
Some evidence has shown that vitamin B6, calcium and magnesium and vitamin E may reduce water retention associated with the menstrual cycle.
Be sure not to exceed the recommended amounts of vitamin E as this can bring its own negative effects, but look for foods such walnuts, bananas, potatoes and even meat to increase vitamin B6 levels. For calcium, dark leafy greens such as spinach are an excellent choice.
3. Eat Foods with Potassium
Potassium is an electrolyte essential to the body’s proper functioning and deficiencies will often lead to muscle cramps and fatigue. Potassium also helps to prevent water retention by both reducing sodium levels and acting as a diuretic.
Add tomatoes, avocados and bananas to your diet to increase your levels of potassium but don’t be afraid of lean chicken breast either, since that also contains high levels of potassium. A glass of tomato juice provides a potent shot of potassium for those in dire need.
4. Avoid Simple Carbohydrates
Spiking insulin levels, which simple carbohydrates cause, leads to increased sodium retention in the kidneys and by extension, increases water retention.
White flour, sugar, white rice, pasta and other foods high on the glycemic index may play a role in increasing water retention by these insulin spokes, so reduce your carbs or stick to more complex carbohydrates in order to help bring down fluid retention.
5. Cook With Garlic
Garlic is a natural diuretic and is an excellent way to quickly reduce water retention by adding some to your cooking. Some people take raw garlic, but you should keep in mind the potency of the garlic, not just for its social consequences but also for its ability to affect the digestive system. Be ready to make some trips to the restroom after taking your garlic though.
It may be the last advice that those suffering from bloating want to hear, but it works. You can increase your level of physical activity and get your blood circulating in order to help the body move fluids out naturally.
If you work up a sweat, this will also help to decrease fluid retention, but simply performing vigorous exercise will jump start your body’s system for flushing out fluid naturally.