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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.