Most of us from time to time will have experienced a bloated tummy and know the uncomfortable feeling that accompanies water retention.  This is when excess fluids build up in your circulatory system or within tissues and cavities.  Called oedema, water retention can cause your hands, feet, ankles and legs to swell but more seriously could be a symptom of an underlying health condition like kidney disease, heart failure, chronic lung disease, thyroid or liver disease. If water retention is sudden, severe or without explanation see your doctor. Self treating at home can delay the diagnosis of potentially serious health conditions.

Fortunately, much of the time water retention is not serious.  Some women experience water retention during pregnancy and other women feel their stomach is full of liquid before their monthly period.  Being inactive, bedridden or sitting on long journeys can cause fluid retention in your limbs. Overeating and particularly too much highly salted food may cause water retention in your abdomen, but simple lifestyle changes like being more active can combat both bloating and fluid retention.

If swelling is mild and there’s no underlying health condition try reducing water retention by watching what you eat and drink.  Alcohol is thought to contribute to the problem so avoid or use sparingly.  Cut down on meals that are high in salt, processed foods are a big dietary source of salt.



Decreasing salt intake is thought to help in reducing water retention but there have been few studies, and many remedies are only supported by anecdotal and not medical evidence. Some people claim increasing your magnesium intake may help reduce water retention. Good sources include nuts, whole grains, dark chocolate and leafy, green vegetables, and it’s also available as a supplement. Other women claim foods rich in vitamin B6 including bananaspotatoes, walnuts and meat may help, and particularly for those women with pre-menstrual tension.

Natural diuretics may help reduce water retention by making you spend a penny more often. These include celery, parsley, corn silk, hawthorn, ginkgo and green tea.  Potassium rich foods such as bananas and some herbs and spices are natural diuretics, and appear to help, by decreasing the amount of sodium in the body and increasing the production of urine. Dandelion and nettle have been used in folk medicine over the years as natural diuretics to combat the symptoms and signs of water retention.


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