What Causes Water Retention and How to Avoid It


Water retention, or edema, is the build up of fluids in the tissues, cavities, and the circulatory system. It can result in swelling in the feet, ankles, legs, and hands and it is common in pregnant women.

Edema can also affect individuals who are not physically active, individuals who lead a sedentary lifestyle, as well as those who take certain medications for a long time period.

While this condition is largely not life-threatening, it can be a manifestation of heart failure or kidney disease. Fortunately, if there are no underlying issues, there’s a way to avert water retention and ease the swelling.

Causes of Edema

1. Excessive Consumption of Sodium

Taking a salt-rich diet without consuming sufficient water can make the body utilize its reserves, leading to water retention. Water makes the cells to expand about 20 times.

Besides salt, sodium is also present in processed foods, like processed meat, and canned vegetables. Conversely, Celtic or Himalayan sea salt can undo the damage occasioned by the table salt.

2.Magnesium Deficiency 

Magnesium is essential for virtually every body function. As such, if you are deficient in this mineral, it can undermine the proper function of the body, leading to water retention.

According to one study, taking 200mg of magnesium every day can ease edema in women with premenstrual symptoms. Likewise, consuming magnesium-rich foods or taking magnesium supplements can relieve edema.

Magnesium-rich foods include, dark chocolate, spinach, yogurt, dried fruits, nuts, avocados, dark green vegetables, peas, and whole grains.

3. Vitamin B6 Deficiency

Vitamin B6 is tasked with regulating various aspects of water balance in the body. Therefore, its deficiency can lead to edema.

In light of the fact that B6 is a water-soluble vitamin, it needs several cofactors in order to function. Hence, it is best when obtained from eating whole foods.

Vitamin B6-rich foods include, potatoes with skin, chicken, tuna, lean beef, pistachio nuts, bananas, sunflower seeds, turkey, and dried fruit.

4. Potassium Deficiency

Potassium is essential for the efficient function of the organs, tissues, and body cells. It plays the integral role in maintaining water balance in the body.

Taking a lot of salt and not consuming potassium-rich foods can decrease potassium levels, resulting in water retention. Deficiency of this mineral can cause muscle spasms, cramps, and weight gain. Potassium can effectively lower the sodium levels, thereby reducing water retention.

Most fruits contain potassium, but honey melon, watermelon, and rockmelon are the ones with the highest content of potassium.

5. Dehydration

Consuming insufficient water can result in dehydration. This makes the body get into survival mode, thereby retaining water. To improve this condition, you need to consume lots of water and potassium-rich juices.

6. Consuming Too Much Processed Foods

Processed foods normally contain food additives that act as toxins, which burden the kidneys and the liver. Sugar-rich foods, particularly artificial sweeteners, can lead to a rapid rise in insulin and blood sugar levels.

Therefore, you need to limit your consumption of processed foods.

Great Herbs for Reducing Edema

Thanks to their potent diuretic properties, these herbs can effectively reduce water retention:

  • Horsetail
  • Dandelion
  • Corn silk
  • Parsley
  • Hibiscus
  • Garlic
  • Nettle
  • Fennel

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