Do your legs and arms feel more swollen than usual and does your skin seem tight? If so, you may be suffering from water retention (edema). Even anecdotally, water retention is so common that many of us have experienced it without realizing it.

Water retention usually occurs unnoticed, but can bring many problems very quickly. In certain circumstances, water retention can cause serious complications such as pain or difficulty walking. Read on to find out how you can reduce water retention with a few simple steps and what home remedies and methods can help you get rid of water retention naturally.

What are water retention?

Water retention, also called edema, is swelling in parts of the body. Water retention can occur in the legs, ankles, or feet, but also on the face and hands, and is caused by fluid buildup in body tissues.

Long periods of sitting during the workday or air travel, hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy and even standing for too long can be the cause here. Your body consists of 50 to 60 percent water. When your water balance is not balanced, your body tends to cling to that water. But some serious health problems can also cause edema.

Depending on the cause, you may be able to relieve edema by changing your diet or avoiding sitting for long periods during the day. If edema is caused by other health conditions, doctors may be able to help control the condition.

Symptoms of water retention

Water retention can make you feel heavier than usual and less mobile or active.

Excessive water retention can also cause some noticeable symptoms. Symptoms of water retention include:

  • Bloating, especially in the abdominal area

  • Swollen legs, feet, and ankles

  • Swelling of the abdomen, face, and hips

  • Stiff joints

  • Weight fluctuations

What causes water retention?

Water retention can be caused by a number of factors. Some causes may be a sign of a serious health condition, while others may not be serious. Causes of water retention may include:

  • Flying in an airplane: The change in cabin pressure and sitting for long periods of time can cause the body to retain water

  • Standing or sitting for too long: Gravity keeps blood in the lower extremities. It is important to get up and move around frequently to maintain blood circulation. If you have a sedentary job, plan time to stand up and walk around.

  • Too much sodium: You can consume too much sodium if you use a lot of table salt or consume processed foods and soft drinks.

  • Certain medications: Some medications cause water retention as a side effect. These may include: Chemotherapy treatments, over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications, certain hormonal birth control pills

  • Heart failure: Heart failure, which occurs when the heart can no longer pump blood effectively, can cause water retention in the body

  • Pregnant: Weight shifting during pregnancy can cause water retention in your legs if you don't exercise regularly.

  • Kidney disease: Advanced chronic kidney disease can cause water retention in the arms and legs. This happens when the kidneys are unable to filter excess fluid from the body, leading to water retention.

  • Liver cirrhosis: In liver cirrhosis, the increased pressure in the liver and decreased production of proteins by the liver can lead to water retention.

  • Menstrual changes and fluctuating hormones: The menstrual cycle can lead to water retention.

Possibilities and ways to reduce water retention

Having water retention is not a fate and you are not forced to struggle with it throughout your life. We simply need to take proactive steps to change our diet and lifestyle to reduce water retention and keep ourselves healthy

Nutritional changes

One of the most direct ways you can begin to reduce water retention and naturally dehydrate your body is through your diet

1. Reduce salt intake

The sodium in salt binds water in your body and is an important element in how your body balances fluid levels inside and outside the cells. Consuming too much salt, such as by eating processed foods, can disrupt fluid balance in your body and promote water retention. An easy way to combat water retention is to simply start reducing your salt intake.

2. Avoid refined carbohydrates

Eating refined carbohydrates such as white flour, white bread, pasta or pastries will cause your blood sugar and insulin levels to rise quickly. High insulin levels can cause your body to retain more sodium by causing your kidneys to absorb more sodium.

This in turn then leads to water retention as more fluid is retained by the sodium. You should therefore eat refined carbohydrates in moderation and avoid them.

3. Increase magnesium intake

Magnesium has been found to help reduce water retention in women with premenstrual symptoms. Therefore, it may be helpful to include more magnesium in your diet to help combat water retention. Common sources of dietary magnesium include nuts, whole grains, dark chocolate and leafy green vegetables. If that's not enough, you can also take magnesium supplements.

4. Increase vitamin B6 intake

Like magnesium, vitamin B6 has also been found to help reduce water retention in women with premenstrual symptoms. You should therefore also consider including more vitamin B6 in your diet to help reduce water retention. Fortunately, vitamin B6 is found in several readily available foods such as fish, offal, potatoes and starchy vegetables.

5. Increase potassium intake

Potassium is another important mineral that is essential to your body's metabolic processes. It helps reduce water retention by lowering sodium levels in your body and boosting urine production.

Potassium-rich foods include bananas, avocados, sweet potatoes, spinach and watermelon.

Lifestyle changes

You can also reduce water retention by making other lifestyle changes.

    1. Get active

    A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to water retention. If you stand or sit for many hours each day, fluid can build up in your legs due to poor circulation and gravity. That's why your legs and ankles can sometimes swell after standing or sitting all day. Take the time to get up and move around, or incorporate some form of daily exercise to keep your circulation going and keep water retention at bay.

    2. Wear compression leggings

    Compression leggings are tight fitting. Designed to wrap tightly around your legs, they help compress your tissues and prevent fluid from building up. If you can't avoid being sedentary because of your job, they're a great investment to help prevent or reduce water retention.

    3. Elevate your feet

    Since we often experience water retention as a result of gravity acting on bodies when we sit, another easy way to reduce water retention is to simply elevate your feet. This will encourage fluid to flow away from your legs and back into your body, reducing water retention.

    4. Drink more water

    Although it may sound counterintuitive, drinking water actually helps reduce water retention. When your body is dehydrated, it tends to retain as much fluid as possible, which leads to water retention in your tissues and causes the classic swelling. Drinking about 12 glasses of water a day and staying hydrated can therefore help reduce water retention.

    5. Weight management

    Obesity or obesity can cause poor circulation in your body and contribute to water retention in your lower extremities. The swelling can put additional strain on your feet and cause pain when you walk.

    6. Massage

    Sometimes we all need to relax. As great as they are for your mental health, massages are equally a fantastic way to relieve water retention. Massage your feet or affected areas with firm motions and pressure in the direction of the heart to push fluid away and reduce swelling.

    7. Try yoga

    A preliminary study suggests that yoga may help women with premenstrual syndrome reduce water retention quickly. While a final verdict on yoga's ability to reduce water retention for all has yet to be announced, it doesn't hurt to try.

    8. Check your medications

    There are also some medications that cause water retention as a side effect. These may include high blood pressure medications, pain medications, antidepressants, and chemotherapy medications.

Herbal remedies and home remedies for water retention

Many herbs and plants are used to treat fluid retention, especially those with a natural diuretic effect. You can take them both in the form of tea or as a dietary supplement, or season your meals with them regularly. Of course, they should be consumed in moderation to avoid excessive urination, which is not at all desirable as it can cause side effects (e.g. dehydration). However, such high doses are hard to achieve.

1. lemon verbena
Helps drain the body and reduce fluid retention thanks to its diuretic properties. In addition, it helps relieve stress and digestive problems such as flatulence and constipation.

2. Horsetail

It is a herb rich in micronutrients (silicon, potassium, manganese, etc.) and other beneficial compounds (e.g. phytosterols, phenolic derivatives).

In addition to its beneficial effects on joints, bones, hair, skin and nails, it has a diuretic effect and helps reduce fluid retention.

3. nettle
Brennettel is a valuable herb that is traditionally used, among other things, as a natural diuretic.

Stinging nettle helps to eliminate excess water, reducing swelling and relieving annoying water retention.

4. Birch
Birch has a diuretic effect and is known for its beneficial effect on simultaneous fluid retention and cellulite. At the same time, it contributes equally to the detoxification of the body.

5. parsley
Although parsley is mainly used as a spice, it seems to help reduce fluid retention. It contains a number of nutrients, including potassium, and has a diuretic effect.

6. Juniper berry
Juniper berry has been used since ancient times for its beneficial properties. It has a diuretic effect and contributes to the drainage and detoxification of the body.

7. corn silk
Maisseide contains valuable vitamins, minerals, trace elements and antioxidants. The above ingredients have a draining and detoxifying effect, among other things.

8. Hibiscus
Hibiscus is an herb indicated for the treatment of constipation and fluid retention. It is rich in polysaccharides as well as flavonoids and helps improve digestion. Hibiscus has a mild diuretic and laxative effect.

9. dandelion
Dandelion is a herb that has been used for hundreds of years as an herbal remedy for various diseases, while it is an excellent source of many nutrients such as potassium.

In addition, the extracts of its leaves have a mild diuretic and draining effect.

Dandelion has been shown to help detoxify the kidneys,
treat temporary fluid retention and relieve symptoms of mild indigestion, among other benefits.

10. Green coffee and green tea
They contain a number of antioxidants that help to drain your body. They are often used as aids to reduce edema, lose weight, and treat cellulite.

Other herbs and medicinal plants with a natural draining effect that can help reduce fluid retention include bearberry, solidago, and garlic.