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
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.