6 Causes Of Water Retention And How To Reverse It

causes water retention

Water retention, also known as edema, is the build-up of fluid in the circulatory system or within tissues and cavities. It can cause swelling in the hands, feet, ankles and legs and is common in women during pregnancy or before their period.

It also affects people who are physically inactive, such as someone who is bedridden, sitting through a long flight or one on long-term medications.

Even though most of the edema causes are not life-threatening, it can be a symptom of kidney disease and heart failure. However, if there are not any underlying conditions, there is a way to avoid water retention and reduce the swelling.

Here are some common reasons for water retention. When you understand the cause of your water retention, you will be able to reverse it by avoiding or stopping the very thing that is causing it.

Causes of edema

1.Excessive intake of sodium

When you consume foods rich in (refined) salt and not drinking enough water, your body begins to retain water as a reserve. Your cells may expand about 20 times over with water, to dilute the salty environment.

Salt isn’t the only commonly consumed product that is high in sodium. Processed food products such as processed meat, certain condiments and even canned vegetables have all been found to have a high sodium content.

On the other hand, there is natural salt that don’t cause water retention, but in fact, can help to reverse the condition. Drinking water with Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt have the opposite effect of the damages that table salt does.

2.Magnesium deficiency

One of the symptoms of magnesium deficiency is water retention. Magnesium is a mineral necessary for almost all functions in the body, so if your body is deficient in magnesium, this can obstruct the proper function of the body, which will eventually result in water retention.

A study showed that taking 200mg of magnesium a day can reduce edema in women experiencing premenstrual symptoms. Consuming foods high in magnesium or taking a magnesium supplement can relieve this condition.

Foods rich in magnesium include spinach, dark chocolate, dried fruits, yogurt, dark green vegetables, avocados, nuts, whole grains, and peas.

3.Vitamin B6 deficiency

Vitamin B6 controls many aspects of water balance in the body, therefore, a deficiency in this vitamin may contribute to water retention.

According to a study conducted by the Journal of Caring Sciences, women who were experiencing water retention due to premenstrual syndrome benefitted from taking vitamin B6.

During the clinical trial, they found vitamin B6 helped reduce their symptoms more efficiently than any of the other supplements that they were given.

Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin that requires various cofactors to work, thus it’s best to obtain it from whole foods instead of from supplement.

Foods that are high in this vitamin are lean beef, turkey, chicken, tuna, and potatoes with skin, bananas, dried fruit, pistachio nuts, and sunflower seeds.

4.Potassium deficiency

Potassium is a mineral essential for the proper function of the body cells, organs, and tissues. It is very important for maintaining normal water balance in the body.

High consumption of salt, too much sweating through exercise, not eating foods rich in this mineral can cause a depletion of potassium, which then leads to edema or water retention.

Also, potassium deficiency can cause cramps, muscle spasms, and weight gain. This mineral has the ability to reduce the sodium levels, thus reducing water retention.

It can be found in most fruits, but watermelon, rockmelon, and honey melon are the ones which are abundant with potassium


Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration, which will make the body enter its survival mode and it retains water. You can improve this condition by a regular consumption of water and juices rich in potassium.

Coffee, soda drinks don’t contribute to your water quota and in fact, further dehydrate your cells.

6.Excessive consumption of processed foods

Processed foods not only have a high content of sodium and sugar, they also contain various artificial food additives that work as toxins that burden your liver and kidneys. Foods rich in sugar especially artificial sweeteners can cause a rapid increase in blood sugar and insulin levels.

You need to reduce the consumption of processed foods. An excellent way of detoxifying the body is by eliminating chronic ailments and making sure your body is in excellent shape.

Herbs that are beneficial for reducing water retention

There are a few herbs that can be potentially beneficial for reducing water retention by their diuretic properties. However, keep in mind that these are only supported by anecdotal evidence, not lab studies.

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

READ NEXT: This Powerful Tea Is The Best Remedy For Swollen Ankles, Legs, And Feet






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