What Causes Water Retention and How to Avoid It


Are your feet, legs, ankles, or hands swollen? This condition is called edema, commonly known as water retention, and is manifested by buildup of fluids in the cavities, circulatory system, and the tissues.

In most cases, edema is caused by pregnancy, menopause, burns, contraceptive pills and any other pill containing estrogen, medications like vasodilators and NSAIDs, physical inactivity, and poor diet. The symptoms of edema depend on the root cause and they typically develop slowly over time. The underlying cause can be determined by urine tests, liver function tests, blood tests, heart function tests, or X-ray.

While most causes are not serious, sometimes edema can result from an underlying condition like heart failure, kidney disease, liver disease or diabetes, meaning that it shouldn’t be taken for granted. After all, edema itself is quite common, currently affecting approximately 4.4 million Americans.

Read on to learn more about the most common causes of the edema and the tips on how to prevent it, of course as long as a serious underlying disease is not to blame.

1. Excessive Sodium Intake

Water retention often occurs when the body starts utilizing its water reserves, which typically happens when a person`s diet it mostly based on sodium-rich foods and low water intake.  Therefore, make sure you do a little research to see which foods contain large quantities of sodium, so that you can start eliminating them from your diet.

Sodium is sneaky and can be found in food you wouldn’t expect it to be preset, such as condiments, canned veggies, processed meat, and processed food in general.  Himalayan sea salt and Celtic salt, on the other hand, are beneficial in terms of reversing water retention.

2. Magnesium Deficiency

Low magnesium levels in the body inhibit the proper function of many vital bodily systems, which in turn eventually causes water retention. According to a research on the topic, taking 200 milligrams of magnesium daily can reduce edema in women with PMS symptoms.  Taking magnesium supplements or eating more magnesium-rich foods like nuts, dark chocolate, spinach, avocados, and whole grains, can help reverse the condition.

3. Vitamin B6 Deficiency

Given that vitamin B6 takes part in many processes associated with water balance in the body, being deficient in this vitamin may lead to water retention.  According to a study published in the Journal of Caring Sciences in which women with premenstrual syndrome were given vitamin B6 on a daily basis, their condition improved within a very short time.

Being a water-soluble vitamin, the best way to obtain it is from whole foods like potatoes, tuna, dried fruits, bananas, pistachio nuts, chicken, lean beef, turkey, and sunflower seeds.

4. Potassium Deficiency

Potassium is of utmost importance for the proper function of cells, tissues, and organs within the body. It also takes part in the maintenance of water balance!  Lack of potassium in the body causes edema and problems like cramps, muscle cramps, and weight gain.   This mineral is capable of reversing water retention due to its ability to lower sodium levels.

Potassium is mostly found in fruits, particularly in rockmelon, honey melon, and watermelon.

5. Dehydration

Dehydration forces the body to retain water, which in turn leads to swellings in the feet, legs, ankles, or hands.  The good news is that drinking plenty of water and avoiding coffee and soda drinks can help improve the condition.

6. Excessive Consumption of Processed Foods

As discussed earlier, processed foods are packed with sodium and sugar, as well as toxic chemicals that put pressure on the liver and kidneys, increasing the chances of water retention.

In addition to this, foods containing artificial sweeteners and sugar are also known to cause spikes in both insulin and blood sugar levels.

Plants that Help Reduce Edema

Plants possessing diuretic properties are extremely effective in reducing water retention. Some of the best include nettle, garlic, fennel, horsetail, parsley, hibiscus, dandelion, and corn silk.