Understanding water retention

Water constitutes up to 70% of total body weight. 50% of body fat contains water and 75% of muscle tissues is water. When the body starts retaining more water than this, it leads to edema.

Causes of water retention

Water retention can occur due to any of the following reasons:

  • An unbalanced diet and lack of exercise.
  • Reaction to some drugs.
  • Dehydration: as the body tries to keep the extra water.
  • Menopause
  • Diseases like Thyroid, Arthritis and Varicose Veins
  • Liver and Kidney disorders

Symptoms of water retention

The most common symptoms of water retention are:

  • Swollen face and other body parts, even if one has lost weight
  • Swollen wrists, ankles, hands, and feet
  • Swollen or puffy face
  • Swollen eyelids when one gets up in the morning
  • A bloated and uncomfortable feeling

Addressing water retention

Drink more water.

Ironic as it may seem, excess water in the body is usually a sign that the body is afraid of losing even more water and thus attempts to hold on as a precautionary measure.

The best way to cure water retention is to drink more water. Most medical experts recommend at least 8 glasses of water per day. It’s important that water intake is spread somehow evenly throughout the day. Drinking too much water in a short period of time can lead to intoxication (also called water poisoning or hyperhydration). Even better is to drink water purified of dehydrating salt or minerals.

Reduce salt intake

Salt is known to clog water tissue when ingested in excess and contributes significantly to water retention. Avoid intake of salt for 2-3 days and you will be surprised at the results. Reduce salt intake to 0.5 grams or less for a few days to notice amazing results. A good alternative is to replace salt with herbs and spices.

Reduce sugar intake

Sugar increases insulin levels in the body which decreases the body’s ability to get rid of sodium (salt). Excessive salt contributes to fluid retention thus sugar indirectly results in water retention. It also places a lot of strain on the adrenal glands which regulate energy. Try your best to avoid sweet foods such as cookies, cakes, candies, soda, and sugary cereals containing sugar. There are a number of healthier alternatives to sugar such as Stevia, which actually feeds the adrenal glands rather than depleting them like sugar. Other alternatives could include raw honey, dates, coconut sugar, monk fruit, and a few others not listed here.

Consuming natural foods having diuretic effects

Cranberry juice is one of the most effective natural diuretics and can safely be consumed in larger quantities during periods of excess retention.

Cabbage leaves are most likely the second-best natural diuretic.  A liberal intake of raw cabbage leaves has proven effective.

Other natural diuretics would include nettle, dandelion, apple cider vinegar, celery, celery seed, green tea, tea leaf, fennel, juniper berries, and parsley.

Foods rich in potassium

Potassium deficiency is one of the primary causes of water retention in the body. Bananas are among the richest sources of potassium.

Other foods rich in potassium include raisins, apricot, blackberries, peaches, and strawberries, spinach, fresh mushrooms, bell peppers, apples, oranges, and raspberries

Herbal teas

Herbal teas made from parsley or tea tree help eliminate excess water from the body without adverse effects.

Foods naturally high in water content

Foods naturally high in water content include watermelon, tomatoes, watercress, cucumbers, artichokes, lettuce, asparagus, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and carrots.


Anaerobic exercises like walking, running, cycling, etc. can quickly produce sweat. This turns your entire body into an effective outlet for getting rid of excess water, salt, and other toxins.


Garlic deserves special mention as one of the most effective natural diuretic foods. Garlic not only helps reducing excess water and toxins from the body but also contributes to the breakdown of fats. This makes it very effective in combating both water retention and associated obesity.

Reduction in alcohol intake

Alcohol though an initial diuretic, becomes a potent cause of dehydration when ingested in excess causes the body to retain more water than normal.

Avoid certain prescription medications as much as possible

A number of prescription medications can significantly increase water retention in the body. A few examples would be birth control, steroid, and certain blood pressure medications.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B-6 helps breaks down sugar and starches and is very effective in reducing water retention. This is especially effective if water retention is caused by hormone replacement therapy during menopause. Taking a liberal amount of Vitamin B-6 (around 200 mg) per day can reduce premenstrual water retention.

Caveat: Excessive intake of Vitamin B6 can be toxic and should be taken only under the supervision of a physician.


Excess water retention is very uncomfortable and can seriously affect our health, I know this first hand. I hope the above provides you and me effective natural alternatives to consider.

Blane Sheffield

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