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Flush it out!

If water retention is getting you down, here’s how to deal with it naturally.

health and fitness Updated: Feb 25, 2010 20:47 IST
Dr Anjali Mukerjee

Water retention, or oedema in medical terms, is a common problem that leads to weight gain. It can be a major hindrance in day-to-day activities.



Causes of water retention:


Hormonal fluctuation during the monthly menstrual cycle, pregnancy, menopause and PMS, a host of diseases and drugs, excessive intake of foods rich in salt and sugar, insufficient intake of B-complex vitamins and proteins, chronic ailments like kidney disease, lung disease and arthritis



Natural Diuretics


Diuretics help to flush out water and toxins through the urinary tract. Nature has naturally endowed certain foods with diuretic properties. They can be classified into natural diuretic foods, potassium-rich foods and herbs with high water content.



1) Food diuretics

Natural diuretics include:


Large amounts of green tea


A glass of cranberry juice


Two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar mixed in a glass of water taken 3-4 times a day


Tea made of potassium-rich dandelion leaves acts as a powerful diuretic and also replaces the potassium lost through urine


Saunf or fennel seeds are believed to have a cooling effect


Water-rich foods such as watermelons and cucumber are rich in sulphur and silicon that stimulate the kidney


Asparagus contains a chemical alkaloid — asparagine — that boosts kidney function


Lettuce leaves aid in better metabolism and flushing of toxins


Tomatoes are rich in Vitamins A and C and help the kidneys flush out waste


Horseradish, raw onions and radishes are powerhouses of sulphur compounds which rave up your metabolism to flush out toxins


Coconut water cools the body and maintains electrolyte balance



2) Potassium-rich foods


Potassium-rich foods release excess fluid. These include bananas, tomatoes, yoghurt, apricots, strawberries and papayas. However, excessive potassium can lead to muscle pain and irregular heart beat if you have a kidney problem.



3) Diuretic herbs


Diuretic herbs have anti-oxidant, anti-viral and antiseptic properties.


Couch grass or dhurva


Uva ursi helps fight urinary tract infection


Juniper berries or hapusha stimulate the kidney


Parsley speeds up the elimination of waste such as urea


According to ayurveda, gokshura helps the urinary tract function well



Other lifestyle tips


Minimise salt and sugar intake. Sodium traps fluids within tissues. Also avoid processed foods high in preservatives and salt


A 30-minute exercise regimen or a brisk walk thrice a week will greatly remove excess water


Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables to make up for the loss of vital nutrients lost in urine


Drink at least eight glasses of water a day. The more the body is hydrated, the less likely it is to retain excess water.