Water retention or bloating, a common complaint, especially among women, refers to excessive accumulation of fluid in the body. When water retention leads to swelling, it is referred to as oedema. Water retention could be due to variations in diet and hormonal fluctuations, but can also indicate an underlying medical condition. It may be generalized or localized. Common symptoms of water retention include swelling of hands, arms, feet, ankles and legs, abdominal bloating, feeling of stiffness or aching and unexplained weight fluctuations.
Common causes of water retention include:
Increased intake of processed and refined foods like white flour, white sugar, juices, preservatives and additives.
Allergies and food intolerances: Typical culprits include wheat, barley, corn, dairy and gluten.
Dietary measures to treat water retention:
Reduce salt and sodium: Lower salt in cooking and in recipes; or omit salt completely and substitute your own seasoning blend. Avoid sprinkling salt on fruits and salads.
Create your own herb and spice blend, and put it in your salt shaker instead of salt.
Restrict pickles, pappads and chutneys to a minimum. Prepare these at home, using small amounts of salt. Choose fresh or frozen unprocessed food preparations over those that are canned, cured, smoked or processed. The latter contain too much salt for preservation and flavour.
Avoid canned or bottled sauces such as barbecue, soy, steak, chilli, tomato, salad dressings, worcestershire etc. Make your own sauces using your favourite salt substitute or herb/spice blend. Use only low salt soy sauce and dilute with lemon juice. There are a few commercial sauces that are all right.
Drinking water does not make you retain fluid but it does promote proper kidney functioning. This is vital as your kidneys excrete excess water from your body. On an average, drink 8 to 10 glasses a day. If your water retention is caused by any other medical condition, be sure to ask your doctor before drinking extra water, it may work against you.
Cut back on dehydrating drinks such as tea, coffee and alcohol. Increase consumption of vegetables and fruits high in potassium such as banana, leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, lemon, lime, orange, sunflower seeds.
In case of poor digestion, eating yogurt and probiotics can help reduce this problem. Home remedies include vegetable juices, infused water, spice water, cumin water, fenugreek seeds (methi), ginger, aniseed (saunf), ajwain (Bishop seeds), coriander seeds, dandelion, nettle, garlic & parsley.
Exercise regularly. Other methods include yoga, massage, acupuncture. Stay away from junk food. Have small, frequent meals. Eat early. Avoid late night and heavy meals. Cut down excessive carbohydrates and include low GI (glycemic index) — whole grains like oats, broken wheat, brown rice; lentils and beans, nuts and seeds, fruits and raw vegetables
Limit simple sugars, fruit juices, use of artificial sweeteners. Include foods rich in Vitamin B6 such as whole grains, nuts and bananas. Include omega-3 & gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), essential fatty acid found in evening primrose oil. Increase intake of magnesium. Magnesium-rich foods include nuts, seeds, whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables and dark chocolate. Look out for food intolerance: Bloating can sometimes indicate you aren’t tolerant to certain foods. Keep a food diary for a couple of weeks, noting what you eat and drink and when bloating troubles you most. But don’t delete food groups long term without advice from a registered dietitian.
If overweight, lose weight.
It’s recommended to seek professional guidance, rather than self-treat, because fluid retention may be symptomatic of serious medical conditions. Make sure to discuss the use of supplements with your doctor or health care professional, particularly if you are on any type of medication.
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