Water retention in the body, medically referred to as oedema, is a common problem. It leads to an even more severe problem – weight gain. Often, we come across several people who complain of weight gain due to water retention. It can be a major hindrance in the day-to-day activity for sufferers.
Causes of water retention
Almost all women encounter such weight gain, which is the effect of hormonal fluctuation occurring during the monthly menstrual cycle.
Pregnancy, menopause, PMS also lead to considerable water retention in the extremities in women and can lead to substantial discomfort.
Besides hormonal fluctuations, normal adults also experience fluid accumulation due to many ailments, diseases and drugs. Excess fluids leak from blood vessels like arteries, accumulate in body tissues and lead to general swelling all over the body or more local swelling such as in legs, feet, ankles, hands or fluid retention in abdominal cavity, the face, arms and even in the lungs.
Excessive intake of foods rich in salt and sugar cause the body to retain considerable amount of fluids.
Besides, even when the body does not receive sufficient amount of B-complex vitamins and proteins, it may cause accumulation of excessive fluids in tissues. Fluid retention is often a result of chronic ailments like kidney disease, lung disease, cirrhosis of liver and arthritis.
Since the excess water weight is quite uncomfortable to carry around, it is preferable to shed off the excess water with the help of diuretics. Diuretics flush out the water and toxins built-up through the urinary tract. These are available in the form of natural foods, herbs and pharmaceutical drugs. This method of kidney flushing is beneficial if done under supervision and for a short span of time; however, it should not be abused.
Nature has naturally endowed certain foods and herbs with diuretic properties.
Other than nourishing the system, foods have a vital role to play as an agent to alleviate body discomfort. Here is a list of are some foods and herbs that will help:
Green tea works as a natural diuretic provided one drinks large amounts.
A glass of cranberry juice aids in the removal of excess fluids.
Two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar mixed in a glass of water taken 3-4 times in a day has tremendous flushing power.
Potassium-rich dandelion leaves tea act as powerful diuretic and also replaces the potassium lost through urine. It also has beneficial effects on people suffering from urinary tract infection. Saunf or fennel seeds have diuretic properties. It has cooling effect on the body when eaten with sugar and water. Water-rich foods like watermelons and cucumber are naturally rich in sulphur and silicon that stimulate the kidney to function more effectively.
Asparagus contains a chemical alkaloid — asparigine that boosts kidney performance and improves waste removal from the body. Lettuce leaves aids in better metabolism and flushing of toxins.
Tomatoes are rich in Vitamins A, C and aid the metabolism and release of water from the kidney to flush out waste.
Horseradish, raw onions and radish are powerhouse of sulphur compounds which rave up your metabolism to flush out toxins. Coconut water is one of nature’s best tonics that naturally cools the body and maintains electrolyte balance in conditions like pre-menstrual syndrome.
Potassium-rich foods release the fluid built up in the system. Some of the foods rich in potassium include bananas, coconut water, tomatoes, yoghurt, apricots, strawberries and papaya. However, (in case of a kidney problem) excessive potassium can have negative consequences like severe muscular pain and irregular heartbeats.
Diuretic herbs enhance the diuretic effect of kidney and aid in modulating the immune function. These have anti-oxidant properties; act as anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-septic. Couch grass or dhurva has diuretic properties. Uva ursi is a useful diuretic herb that contains antibiotic properties to fight urinary tract infection. Juniper berries or hapusha stimulate the kidney to free the body of toxins and alleviate fluid retention. Parsley is an excellent diuretic herb that increases the elimination of excessive water along with waste products like urea, and other acidic metabolites. Gokshura, according to Ayurveda, is a rejuvenating herb that supports efficient function of urinary tract.
Incorporating these diuretic foods and herbs will help ease the problem of oedema. But the effect of these foods can be further enhanced by a lifestyle that supports efficient kidney function and prevents the built-up of fluids in the tissues. Minimise intake of salt and sugar. Sodium binds water and traps fluids within tissues. This is particularly relevant for people suffering from high blood pressure.
Avoid processed foods like cured meats (bacon and ham slices, sausages, etc.) that contain high levels of sodium-rich preservatives and salt. A 30-minute exercise regimen or brisk walk thrice a week will greatly remove excess water. When water is flushed out of the body in the form of urine it also leads to loses of vital minerals and vitamins. Increase intake of fresh fruits and vegetables to make up for the losses of vital nutrients lost in urine. Drinking at least eight glasses of water is the safest way to prevent water retention. The more the body is hydrated, the lesser the chance for it to retain excess water.
A lifestyle, which supports kidney flushing for a temporary period, works well for people suffering with symptoms of oedema. However, overdoing can cause deficiencies which can further complicate problems. A diuretic diet must be followed under supervision to avoid negative side-effects. If food therapy has been of little help the person may have to follow allopathy under doctor’s supervision.
The writer is a nutritionist. She treats obesity and related health disorders online. She can be reached at email@example.com / www.health-total.com