Water retention: Pockets full of water

Sometimes, all you need to do to cure water retention is alter your diet

Sick woman

When the body becomes incapable of managing the mineral levels, it often starts collecting water in several places—a condition known as water retention, or oedema.

The areas where the water accumulates appear swollen, tender or bloated. The common areas to be affected are the extremities [mostly feet and ankles] and the abdomen. In fact, abdominal bloating due to water retention is quite common. However, sometimes it also affects the face.

Persistent water retention indicates a serious problem—perhaps a thyroid, kidney, bladder, heart or liver dysfunction—and should be brought to the urgent attention of a medical professional. Such a bloating or swelling is accompanied by muscle pain.

What you can do

fruitsYou can treat water retention with some simple remedies, if the cause is not a major illness.

  • Have a piece of amla every morning. This helps flush out toxins.
  • Eat one teaspoon alfalfa seeds every morning with a glass of lime water.
  • Have at least one cup of yogurt every day. The active cultures in yogurt aid in digestion and increase the good bacteria in the gut.
  • Keep sipping herbal tea—green tea for instance—at least three times a day. It helps dilute the water-retaining salts.
  • Include garlic in your diet.
  • Drink a glass of lemon juice with clove. Also a glass of cranberry juice daily will do you good. They are natural diuretics [cause frequent urination] and help detoxify the body and stop water retention.
  • Drink coconut water once a day. It is a popular remedy for water retention.
  • Have an elaichi banana every day to eliminate fluid retention.
  • Add flaxseeds to your diet [this is particularly helpful for pregnant women].
  • Eat a bowl of watermelon and cucumber salad every day before meals.
  • Drink lots of water to help dilute the urine produced by the kidneys. Since urine contains fluid-retaining salts, diluting it helps decrease water retention and associated swelling.

Attention ladies!

Water retention is a common premenstrual symptom. Here’s what you can do about it:

  • Avoid consumption of alcohol.
  • Have at least six small meals per day. Avoid long gaps between your meals.
  • Increase your intake of fibre-rich foods.
  • Avoid drinking more than one cup of caffeinated and aerated drinks. Consumed in small amounts, caffeine is a diuretic and helps shed a little water weight. However, in excess, it dehydrates the body, which then attempts to hold on to the water by collecting it.
  • Avoid eating foods high in sodium such as French fries, pepperoni pizza, potato chips, salted nuts and most fast foods. Also refrain from eating food where sodium is used as preservative such as ketchup, chilli sauce, soy sauce, pickle and various chutneys.
  • Increase your intake of foods rich in potassium and vitamin C. These include soy, bananas, apricots, tomatoes, cabbage, cucumber, raisins, potatoes, figs, currants, avocados, beets, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, dry dates, kiwi fruit, melons, pears, oranges, prunes, spinach and winter squash.
  • Have protein-rich foods such as milk and milk products, soy, dals, egg whites and fish.
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing [like shoes or belts].
  • Keep your legs in an elevated position as often as possible. This moves the fluid back from the legs into the circulatory system and then to the kidneys, where it can be excreted.
  • Do not stand or cross your legs for long.
  • Exercise daily. The leg muscles play a key role in moving blood from the feet back to the heart. If the leg muscles weaken or if one doesn’t get adequate exercise, fluid from the blood collects in the feet and ankles.

This was first published in the November 2010 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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Deepshikha Agarwal
Deepshikha Agarwal is a Mumbai-based dietician and sports nutritionist. She writes nutrition-related columns in newspapers and conducts corporate workshops. She also teaches and conducts lectures on diet and wellness isues.



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