Feeling bloated? Here's how to reduce water retention through diet

Water retention – when your body holds on to more water than normal – occurs for numerous reasons. It can be brought on by hot weather, some medications (e.g. birth control pills), menstruation and pregnancy in women, or it could be caused by an underlying medical condition (e.g. kidney disease).

But often, it is simply due to dietary reasons, such as eating excess salt or drinking insufficient water.

Water retention may show up in various ways such as unexplained weight fluctuation and rapid weight gain over a few days, bloating in the abdominal region, or puffiness and swelling in the hands, feet, ankles and legs.

If you have mild water retention without any underlying medical condition, you could try making the following changes in your diet to reduce it:

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Eat less sodium (salt): Sodium plays a key role in maintaining the fluid balance in your body. If you consume excess sodium, your kidneys will retain water to correct the imbalance. So avoid sodium-rich processed and packaged foods and beverages and limit yourself to the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of about a teaspoon of salt a day.

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Eat more foods that contain potassium: Potassium helps regulate the fluid balance in your body and can get rid of excess water if you have water retention. Good sources of potassium include bananas, avocados, oranges, potatoes, leafy green vegetables, peanuts and almonds.

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Limit sugar and refined carbohydrates: Excess consumption of carbohydrates can trigger water retention since these are stored in the body as glycogen to provide energy when you need it. Every gram of glycogen stored in this way causes the body to retain 2-3 grams of water, say experts.

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Increase your water intake: Your body tends to store water when you don’t drink enough of it to protect against dehydration. So drink more water if you suspect you have water retention, and avoid dehydrating beverages such as coffee and tea.

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