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How to solve water retention naturally

Posted 5 years ago by Jo

Water retention can be a significant contributing factor in bloating and is a surprisingly common condition. It tends to occur more often in women, and symptoms of water retention tend to increase with age. Here we aim to explore what water retention is, the possible causes and remedies.

Water retention

Water retention is caused by excess fluid in our cells and may cause bloating 

What is water retention?

Water retention, also known as oedema (pronounced e-deema), is caused when the cells of the body hold onto excess water leading to swelling and potentially abdominal bloating. Water retention tends to worsen after standing for long periods and in hotter weather.

Are you suffering from water retention?

If you are suffering from water retention, in addition to bloating, you may also be experiencing swelling in your hands, ankles and feet (swelling is usually relieved by raising your feet for a period of time). If however you have other digestive symptoms such as constipation, diarrhoea, flatulence or abdominal cramps you may be suffering from some type of digestive disturbance. We have many tips and articles about bloating that is caused by digestive health issues, such as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) for example, which may be of interest to you. If you would like to read more about natural remedies for bloating you can click here.

What causes water retention?

The functioning of our cells depends a lot on the complex interaction between electrolytes, namely sodium and potassium, in the body helping to manage the level of fluid stored in our cells. The kidneys make urine by filtering out water and sodium and potassium ions from the blood. Through a complex process, the kidneys return an exact amount of sodium and potassium ions and some water to the blood stream so these levels will remain constant. The rest of the water goes into the bladder as urine.

Coconut water

Coconut water is rich in natural electrolytes, sodium and potassium, which help balance fluids in the body 

There are various hormones that also have a role to play in water retention in the body. An increase in the hormone oestrogen for example may cause women to retain more water in the week or so before their period, contributing to menstrual bloating.

A diet high in salt may contribute to water retention in the body. This is because sodium (found in salt) affects the way water enters and leaves our cells, and excess sodium causes us to hold on to more fluid.

It is important to note that water retention may be a symptom associated with more serious health conditions such as high blood pressure, kidney or liver disease, and if you are at all concerned we would recommend seeking advice from your GP.

Remedies for water retention

If your GP has diagnosed water retention, they may prescribe diuretic medication. Any diuretic, either synthetic (medication) or natural, works by flushing out the excess fluid from the cells of the body as urine. Diuretics work by allowing the kidneys to place more sodium in the urine, and the extra sodium takes out excess water from the blood. This process decreases the amount of fluid in the blood vessels and reduces pressure in the arteries, as well as increasing the amount of urine passed out of the body.

There are a number of foods that are naturally rich in potassium which as discussed above, can be helpful in restoring the balance of water held in our cells by balancing the levels of sodium in the body - sodium encourages the retention of water in our cells. Bananas, for example, are high in the mineral potassium and can be helpful to reduce water retention. Asparagus, watermelon, celery and parsley are also believed to be possess diuretic properties, and coconut water is rich in natural electroytes which may help to retain the fluid balance in the body. Certain herbs can be used therapeutically for their diuretic properties. Yarrow,  dandelion leaf, green tea and nettle are traditionally renowned for their diuretic properties. These herbs are available in ready-to-buy herbal teas which you can find at independent health food stores. We would also recommend seeking advice from a qualified herbalist or naturopath if you would like to try using herbs as a remedy for your water retention.

Dandelion Tea

Dandelion possesses natural diuretic properties and can be drunk as a tea to help reduce water retention

Other natural remedies to try to help reduce water retention include ensuring you drink plenty of water. Although it seems counter-productive, if we are slightly dehydrated, the body will effectively hold onto water in our cells, triggering symptoms of oedema and bloating.

Regular exercise can also be important in helping to reduce build-up of fluid in the body by helping to keep our lymph system moving.

If you have any top tips for helping to reduce water retention naturally we would love to hear about it - perhaps you have a recipe for a homemade diuretic tea? Please feel free to let us know by commenting below. 

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