Water retention, which is medically referred to as edema, occurs due to the leakage of water from the bloodstream to the cells and tissues of the body.
Under normal circumstances, water and fluids from the body's tissues are circulated and removed by the lymphatic system. If the drainage of the fluids is adversely affected, then the tissues begin to retain water, resulting in water retention and the visible swelling.
Water retention is most commonly observed in the hands, legs, and feet. Based on the manifested symptoms, water retention is either localized or generalized. In the former case, retention of water is observed in particular parts of the body (e.g. pulmonary edema); whereas, in case of generalized edema, swelling is manifested all over the body.
Though it's always better to seek medical assistance, there are some effective remedies which one can follow at home to manage the symptoms.
Natural Remedies for Fluid Retention
If fluid retention is related to an underlying physical problem, then rectifying the condition will help in alleviating the symptoms. Once the underlying cause has been identified, the physician may recommend certain medications for reducing the swelling and associated symptoms. In addition to therapeutic intervention, one should make lifestyle-related changes for management and prevention of this condition.
Reduce Salt Intake
Excessive intake of salt in the daily diet is a major cause of water retention in the body. It is observed that consumption of salty food items exacerbate the problem of water retention. Hence, minimizing salt intake is an effective remedy to reduce water retention. One should limit consumption of food products that contain excess salts, such as processed meat, potato chips, and other salted snacks. Instead of using salt, put lemon juice, fresh herbs, or pepper or flavor.
Increase Water Intake
One may think that drinking more water may increase water retention, but that's not true. If your body is dehydrated, your body starts retaining water. So, make sure that you drink plenty of water, as well as fruit juices (watermelon juice, orange juice, coconut water, etc.), herbal teas (dandelion tea, fennel tea, etc.), and other non-caffeinated beverages. Alcohol cause dehydration, so either refrain from drinking alcohol, or cut down on its intake. One should abstain from drinking caffeinated beverages such as tea and coffee.
Avoid foods that may exacerbate swelling of the tissues. Cut down on the intake of refined foods. For cooking, use oils that contain omega-3-fatty acids and mono-unsaturated fatty acids. Foods rich in vitamin A and vitamin C should be included in the diet. Including natural diuretic foods like cranberry juice, tomato and cabbage, will certainly prove beneficial.
Increase Mineral Intake
Deficiency of trace minerals (like potassium and calcium) often aggravates the symptoms of water retention. Taking this into consideration, another effective water retention remedy is increasing the intake of food items that contain high amounts of these minerals. Foods that are rich in potassium will help balance sodium levels. Thus, affected individuals must eat potassium-rich food items like watermelon, bananas, salmon, etc. Very often, the physician recommends mineral supplementation for women with water retention symptoms, which are related to menstrual cycle.
Since stress could cause hormonal imbalance, which in turn may cause fluid retention, proper stress management techniques should be followed. Deep breathing exercises, meditation, massage therapy, etc. can be followed to help one relax. Certain massage therapies can help to improve the flow of lymph, thereby alleviating the symptoms of edema.
Stay Physically Active
Performing regular exercise for at least 30 minutes helps in detoxifying the body, which in turn helps to reduce water retention. Leading a sedentary lifestyle can make you susceptible to many health problems. So, go for walks. Cycling, swimming, or performing light exercises on a daily basis will certainly help. If you are affected by joint conditions or other health problems, consult a qualified physician regarding the type of exercises that you could perform for alleviating water retention.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle will surely help in preventing the onset of the symptoms of water retention. You could also maintain a food diary to identify the food items that aggravate this problem. Refrain from consuming these foods. If the underlying cause is identified, it will be easier to tackle the problem. For instance, people affected by dehydration will greatly benefit if they abstain from consumption of caffeinated beverages and alcohol. And one of the most reliable ways to deal with fluid retention is to increase the intake of water. Believe it or not, drinking ample amounts of water will surely help in reducing water retention. Very rarely, this problem occurs in a well-hydrated body.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.