If you’ve noticed that parts of your body, such as your hands, legs or feet, are looking a little swollen, it could be down to a little thing called water retention.
Also known as edema, this is when the body has an excessive amount of fluid which it then stores in your circulatory system and cell tissues. The average human body is made up of about 60% water, however sometimes it’s possible for it retain more and begin to look bloated in some areas1 .
Thankfully, water retention isn’t usually something to worry about and can be easy to get rid of if you have the right know-how.
First of all, what causes water retention?2
Water retention can be down to a number of different things, most of which are nothing to worry about and easy to identify. The most likely causes are typically:
- A lack of certain minerals due to a poor diet
- Too much salt in your diet
- Long periods of inactivity
- Hormonal changes due to things like pregnancy or menstruation
It’s also possible for edema to be a symptom of an underlying health issue to do with your kidneys or heart. If you experience sudden water retention and also have other symptoms which are not normal for you, you may want see a doctor right away.
How can I get rid of water retention?
Feeling frequently bloated can not only be uncomfortable physically, but also start to impact your mental health, too. If you’re keen to know how to get rid of water retention, consider the following tips:
1. Change your diet
A poor diet that lacks certain vitamins and minerals may be contributing to your water retention. Additionally, salty and sweet foods can have a huge effect on your body’s ability to absorb and release water from its cells. Make sure you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet and avoiding so-called junk foods which are high in sodium3 .
2. Exercise more
As well as being a short-term solution for getting rid of excess fluid in your body via sweat, regular exercise could also help keep your body’s water levels stay balanced. Nevertheless, it’s important that you also replenish your water stocks while you exercise to avoid becoming dehydrated4 .
3. Develop good sleep habits
A lack of sleep may be affecting your body’s ability to control its water levels and absorb sodium. While we snooze, a lot of crucial bodily functions such as cell regeneration and repair are allowed to happen5 .
Not getting enough shut-eye every night could slow down those processes and, consequently, cause your body to retain more water. Ideally, you should be aiming for between 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
4. Consider taking a mineral supplement
As well as supplementing a healthy diet, certain minerals may also help lower the risk of water retention. Magnesium and vitamin B6 in particular have been shown in some studies to ease water retention in women who are premenstrual 6.
Potassium and magnesium are additionally electrolytes: minerals which play important roles in regulating your body’s balance of fluids7 . If you do decide to take a supplement, remember that they should never be taken in the place of nutrient-rich foods.
5. Don’t stop drinking water
If you suffer from water retention, it’s important that you keep drinking water to stay hydrated and support your kidneys and liver. This is especially important if you’re exercising or live in a hot climate.
Interestingly, dehydration is also thought to have a direct link to water retention. That’s because when our bodies don’t get enough fluid, they start to store it rather than use it to keep our water levels as high as possible8 .
For more advice on your wellbeing or diet, head on over to The Health Hub. In addition to informational guides, you’ll find dozens of delicious vegan and vegetarian recipes to try.