Fluid retention is also called oedema or water retention. It occurs when parts of the body swell due to a build-up of trapped fluid. The fluid gets trapped and makes the area swollen or puffy. Fluid retention is most common in your ankles and feet.
The symptoms of fluid retention will depend on the area it affects. Common areas include the lower legs, the hands, the abdomen, and the chest.
In the limbs, feet, and hands, symptoms include:
There are many causes of fluid retention. Some people get fluid retention due to being sick from:
A number of factors can cause water retention. Some causes may be a sign of a severe health condition while others may not be serious.
Sodium binds to water in your body and helps maintain the balance of fluids inside and outside your cells.
If you often eat foods that are high in salt, such as many packaged foods, your body may retain water. These foods are the biggest dietary source of sodium in most Western diets.
The most common advice for reducing water retention is to decrease sodium intake.
Some research suggests that increasing your magnesium intake may help reduce water retention.
Good sources of magnesium include nuts, whole grains, and leafy green vegetables. It’s also available as a supplement.
Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a central role in:
It also regulates fluid balance and may help reduce water retention.
Potassium serves several important functions, especially regarding heart health, muscle contractions, and nerve function.
It’s also essential for maintaining blood volume and fluid balance to help decrease water retention. It works by counteracting the effects of sodium to prevent fluid build up and swelling, as well as by increasing urine production.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) has long been used as a natural diuretic in folk medicine. It may help reduce water retention by increasing urine production.
Additionally, dandelion may have antiviral, antifungal, and antioxidant benefits.
Refined carb sources such as white bread and pasta are typically high in carbs or added sugar and low in fibre. As a result, consuming these foods may lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels.
High insulin levels may cause more sodium retention by increasing sodium reabsorption in your kidneys. In turn, this may lead to more fluid volume in your body and increased water retention.
Additionally, your liver and muscles store carbs as glycogen, a form of sugar that is bound to water. Each gram of glycogen is stored with at least 3 grams of water, so following a high carb diet could increase water retention.
Fibre-rich whole grains, such as oats, brown rice, and whole wheat bread, are better food sources than refined carbohydrates.
Certain natural remedies may also help reduce water retention by increasing urine production and decreasing inflammation. These might include drinking more water, increasing your physical activity, or consuming foods or supplements such as:
Speak with a healthcare professional before adding supplements to your diet, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications.
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