Are you prone to swollen ankles, uncomfortable tummy bloating, and bulging AM eye bags? Well, one of the reasons for all that might be that your body is holding onto excess water and salt. Fluid retention is a common and huge problem nowadays, mostly because of our diet. Because of our diet consists of lots of processed foods, salt and fluid retention is a common condition. What you want to do, instead, is look for foods that act as natural diuretics.
If you do not take the problem seriously, fluid retention might lead to chronic conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. Natural diuretics work in the same way as prescription diuretics, stimulating the kidneys to produce more urine and flush excess water and salt from the body. But unlike prescription diuretics, natural foods come without any harmful side effects.
Causes of bloated stomach
Since bloated stomach is one of the first signs that your body retains water, let’s look at all the causes that might lead to this problem.
The first and most common cause is diet, one that consists of eating fatty foods. This slows down the process of emptying your stomach. Consuming carbonated drinks, eating quickly and chewing gum can also lead to a bloated stomach.
Some foods are also known for their tendency to produce gas. They might be healthy, but too much of these foods can lead to bloating. The list includes onions, milk, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and whole-grain breads. When you are not able to properly digest and absorb foods in your small intestine, your body produces more gas than usual. This is a common symptom of Crohn’s disease.
In terms of chewing your food, eating slowly, with your mouth closed, is the healthy way of eating. Try not to talk too much while chewing. Swallow, and then talk. Chewing properly will reduce the amount of air you swallow.
There a number of other causes of bloated stomach, including:
- Coeliac disease, when your body cannot absorb gluten
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Food intolerance, either to gluten, wheat, or dairy products
What is water retention?
Another reason why you should consider diuretics is water retention. As mentioned, water retention usually leads to bloated stomach, and all sorts of other problems.
What you need to know is that 70% of the human body consists of water. Muscles are also made of 75% water, fat consists 50% water, bones up to 50% water, and blood is mostly made up of water. But while our body needs a lot of water to function properly, water retention is not something you want to have. In simplest terms, water retention refers to “excessive build up of fluid in the circulatory system, body tissues, or cavities in the body”.
Causes of water retention
There are many reasons why your body retains water. We will look at the most common ones.
When the pressure inside your capillaries changes, water retention is possible. Fluids pass through your blood vessels into surrounding tissues. These fluids nourish your cells and eventually make their way to the capillaries. If the pressure inside the capillaries changes, water retention is the result. Even when the capillary walls get too leaky, you will also experience water retention.
If you have swollen legs and ankles, it might be water retention that is causing them. In terms of lifestyle causing water retention problems, think of your job and how you spend most of the day.
If you spend most of the time standing or sitting for long periods of time, your tissues hold water. If your job requires you to be on your feet, you might notice swollen legs at the end of the day. Water retention is also common after a long time on an airplane.
Women feel puffy and bloated in the days leading up to their period. The feeling of bloating can go away after few days. However, hormones taken for birth control and hormone replacement therapy can also cause water retention.
Medication and water retention
Many medications cause water retention as a side effect. And while natural diuretics are not recommended during medication, you should pay attention to the pills you are taking. Medications that can cause water retention include high blood pressure medication, pain relievers (ibuprofen), chemotherapy medication, and antidepressants.
Exercise helps blood flow through your body. If the blood does not travel fast enough, it will accumulate in the legs, resulting in higher pressure in the capillaries. We already mentioned that changes in the capillaries cause water retention.
The higher the pressure is on the capillaries, the harder is for fluids to come back later on. Exercise stimulates the lymphatic system to carry out its function of regulating overflow and bringing fluids into the bloodstream. Therefore, when you are inactive, your body retains water.
Problems with the kidneys
Blood is filtered in the kidneys, we all know that. Waste, fluids, and similar substances are extracted and cross into tiny tubules. From there, the bloodstream reabsorbs anything the body can reuse. The waste is excreted in urine.
When your kidneys are working properly, waste material is eliminated. However, if the blood flow is affected, or the kidneys are not working properly, waste materials cannot be eliminated. And the end result is fluid retention.
When your body is in inflamed state, it releases histamine. What you do not know is that histamine causes the gaps between the cells of the capillary walls to widen. That makes them leakier. If inflammation is present for a longer time, the end result is water retention. And it becomes a problem you have to solve with natural diuretics and diuretic food.
How to reduce water retention
Water retention can happen in the circulatory system or within cavities and tissues. The first symptoms include swelling in the hands, feet legs, and ankles.
We talked about the causes of water retention, and now let’s talk about some of the best ways to reduce it. One of them is consuming more natural diuretics, but there are also other ways to reduce water retention.
- Consume less salt to reduce water retention. Salt is made of sodium and chloride, and sodium binds to water in the body and maintains the balance of fluids both inside and outside. Consuming food high in salt will result in your body retaining water. Processed foods are the biggest source of sodium, and you should try to lower them as much as possible. Several studies have shown the effects of sodium intake on water retention
- Another way to reduce water retention is to up your magnesium consumption. Magnesium is one of the most important minerals in our body, involved in more than 300 enzyme reactions and functions. Magnesium helps women with premenstrual syndrome and water retention problem
- Up your potassium intake by consuming potassium rich foods. Another mineral that helps with water retention is potassium. This mineral works in two ways. First and foremost, it decreases sodium levels in your body, but also increases urine production. If you like to consume more potassium rich foods, look for bananas, tomatoes, and avocados as good source
- Increase your vitamin B6 intake to reduce water retention. You can source it from potatoes, walnuts, meat, and bananas. Vitamin B6 also reduce water retention in women with PMS
- Last, but not least, avoid refined carbs to reduce water retention. Consuming refined carbs results in rapid spikes in blood sugar, as well as insulin levels. When that happens, your body retains more sodium and increases re-absorption of sodium in the kidneys. Processed sugars and grains are the two most important food groups you need to avoid
Natural diuretics to try
When faced with water retention problem, a lot of people opt for over the counter medicine. However, what you need to take into consideration is all the side effects that over the counter medicine brings to the table.
With that in mind, we always recommend using natural medicine, including natural diuretics that will help with water retention.
This flavored herb has many health benefits. And one of them is helping with water retention. The natural diuretic properties of fennel make the herb great for a tea. Drinking a cup of fennel tea on a daily basis will help with bloating. You will notice the results just after few days. And if you do not like drinking tea, you can always enjoy fennel bulb as a vegetable side dish.
Last, but not least, you can add fennel seeds in your meals as flavor.
If you are prone to fluid retention, asparagus is one of the best things you can get. I recommend getting it in bundles during the season, and freeze.
After all, out of the season asparagus doesn’t come cheap. With that in mind, asparagus has some of the best diuretic properties on the market.
This vegetable contains an amino acid called aspargine. It is that amino acid that stimulates and supports kidney function. By supporting your kidneys, asparagus helps your body get rid of excess water and salt.
There are many natural diuretic foods that come in the form of tea. Dandelion falls into that category as well. For centuries, leaves of dandelion have been used in folk medicine as a way to get rid of excess water and salt. But in the past several years, studies have backed up those claims. The plant increases the frequency of urination.
If you cannot find fresh leaves at the grocery market, get some dandelion tea bags.
You do not need a study to show you the effects of grapes on water retention. Just try to notice how frequent you go to the toilet when you eat grapes. That is all the proof you need.
This fruit is one of the best natural diuretics on the market, thanks to a high amount of potassium in its nutritional value. It is that mineral that helps your body balance salt levels and stimulate the kidneys function.
The best way to reap the benefits of grapes is to eat a handful of them on a daily basis. If not, you can always turn to grape juice.
The irony here is that samphire is a salty marine vegetable. But no matter how salty it is, this veggie is actually great for getting rid of excess water and sodium. Acting as a natural diuretic, the vegetable was once very rare. You could only find it in posh farmers’ markets. Nowadays, however, you can find fresh units of the vegetable in every major supermarket.
This fruit is packed with water. More than 90% of the fruit is actually water content. But in addition, watermelon is rich in minerals and plant sugars. Because of that, consuming this fruit promotes frequent urination, and helps your kidneys produce a higher volume of urine.
Personally, I love fresh watermelon. However, I understand some people prefer a watermelon smoothie.
Both the seeds and the root of this vegetable contain a unique chemical called butylphthalide. Studies have shown that this chemical has strong diuretic properties. Its job is to stimulate the kidneys to produce more urine and flush away water and salt with that.
The chemical actually gives the celery that love it or hate it taste and aroma. In addition to regulating water and salt, the chemical can also regulate blood pressure and protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
Almost everyone knows that coffee can act as a mild diuretic. It all comes down to the caffeine which stimulates healthy bowel movement and increased urination. Caffeine triggers the kidneys to expel more urine. And if you are not regular coffee drinker, the effects are even bigger.
Garlic is not usually a vegetable that you consider as diuretic foods. Most people consume garlic for anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antiviral properties. But this superfood vegetable can also help with water retention. Both garlic and onions are loaded with sulfur, a mineral that helps support kidney function and regulate the metabolism. As a result, you are able to balance levels of water and salt in your body.
If you are not fan of the strong taste and odor of garlic, you can always take some garlic powder or any other forms of garlic supplement.
When you think of natural diuretics, watercress should always be on the top of the list. It is one of the most effective natural ways to reduce bloating and a cornerstone in flat stomach weight loss diets. Because it is high in potassium, watercress helps you control salt levels in your body.
In addition, watercress also promotes urine flow and frequent urination. And because it is low in calories, you will get weight loss benefits. Try to blend it into a soup or serve it raw in salads.
The popular name for this natural diuretic is black seed. Some people know it as black cumin or black caraway. No matter the name, it is one of the most effective diuretic foods on the market. It is more effective than prescription diuretics.
The seed increases your urine output, and reduces sodium levels. The strong peppery flavor might be too much for some people. But if you can stand it, go for it. After all, every Indian and Middle Eastern dish has it.
Similar as watermelon, cucumbers are made mostly out of water. Their natural hydrating function makes them great addition to your natural diuretics list. You can easily shed some water out of your body. In addition, cucumbers are loaded with vitamins and minerals that promote and boost your overall health.
We had quite few tea beverages on this list. We continue with mint tea, a tea made out of the mint plant. The plant itself makes its way into salads, smoothies and juices on a regular basis.
Consuming it as a mint tea is a great way to naturally reduce water retention and improve your digestion. When you feel bloated, just pour some hot water over mint leaves and drink a cup of tea. You will notice the effects almost instantly.
Apple Cider Vinegar
When you look at all the health benefits of apple cider vinegar, you just ask yourself, is there anything ACV cannot do? Apparently not. Apple cider vinegar is great at boosting your digestion and helping you flush out toxins out of your body. In addition, ACV helps you meet potassium daily requirements and regulate blood pressure.
The best way to use it as a natural diuretic is take a spoon of apple cider vinegar. But if that is too much for you, there is always plan B, and that is add it to salads.
The hibiscus plant and tea also works as a natural diuretic. Consuming the tea helps you prevent from potassium loss. In folk medicine, hibiscus is used as a medicinal supplement. To prepare a hibiscus tea, just steep the dried petals of the hibiscus flower in hot water.
On the list of diuretic foods, parsley is often overlooked. And while there are no studies that show parsley can be an effective diuretic in humans, some animal studies have shown parsley increases urine volume significantly.
The simplest way to reap the benefits of this herb is to use it in cooking. You can use it either fresh or dried.
In folk medicine, parsley is brewed as a tea, and consumed several times per day to reduce water retention. With that in mind, if you are looking for natural diuretics, parsley is definitely an effective commodity.
You’ve probably noticed that many of the natural diuretics are actually herbs. This herbal remedy has been used as a diuretic for many years in folk medicine. You can take either as tea, or in capsule form.
Few studies have examined the benefits of horsetail in terms of natural diuretic. But it is a popular choice in folk medicine.
Now, while it is considered safe, it is not recommended that you consume it long-term. People with pre-existing health condition like kidney disease should also avoid it.
You will hear many nutritionists, health experts, and wellness experts recommend starting the day with a cup of water and a squeeze of lemon. Lemons are fantastic in terms of flushing out toxins. But they also help regulate potassium levels, and get rid of excess water. With that in mind, you can consume lemons through the entire day, not just in the morning.
Nettle can be stingy, but you are not touching the leaves here. You are just using them to prepare tea. Nettle is rich in minerals and vitamins, particularly potassium and iron. Drinking nettle tea will help you eliminate toxins, support healthy and frequent urination, and help with a general detox plan.
If you do not like to drink it as tea, you can always add nettles to your smoothie. The herb also makes its way into some salads.
Is there anything better than a sweet fruit that can act as a natural diuretic? Well, peaches do exactly that. They are an effective diuretic that you can add to fruit salads and smoothies, or consume on their own. Eat four to six peaches as a meal if you are having troubles going to the bathroom. You will feel relief almost instantly.
Beets are some of the healthiest diuretic foods on the market. They not only help with water retention, but also with the overall health as well. Most importantly, beets keep your liver strong by flushing out toxins out of the liver. The best way to get the benefits of beets is to juice them. If you like a great healthy juice, add some carrots, ginger, and apples to the beets smoothie.
Pineapple is a unique fruit. One of the reasons is because it contains bromelain, an enzyme exclusive to pineapple. This digestive enzyme acts as a natural diuretic. And the best part about pineapple is its versatility. Consume on its own, add it to fruit salads, to a smoothie, or even use it as a pizza toping.
Types of diuretics
Now that we’ve talked about natural diuretics and diuretic foods, let’s talk a bit about the diuretic medications you can also get. As I previously mentioned, I do not recommend using over the counter medicine. After all, they carry certain side effects. But if you like to go that way, you need to understand the types of diuretics.
There are three types of diuretic medications, and they are the following:
- Thiazide diuretics, which decrease blood pressure at the same as removing excess fluids. By doing so, they relax the blood vessels. These diuretics can help with chronic heart failure
- Loop diuretics are used for patients with pulmonary edema, high blood pressure, heart failure, and kidney problems
- Potassium sparing diuretics do not reduce blood pressure, but they prevent loss of potassium. Many medical people consider them to be weak diuretics, and they are usually used in combination with thiazides or loop diuretics
Why avoid prescription diuretics
The biggest reason why I recommend natural diuretics over prescription diuretics is the side effects of the latter. Here are some side effects that might happen as a result of taking over the counter diuretic medicine:
- Skin rash
- Muscle cramps
- Frequent urination
Is your extra weight water weight?
People trying to lose weight complain about one thing constantly. It goes like this “I do a lot of cardio, my diet is on point, my training is on point, but I still have a layer of fat covering my abs”. The problem is water weight.
Even for people that are not into bodybuilding, you can actually lose up to 10 pounds in few months just by eating more diuretic foods and sticking to natural diuretics.
What is water weight? Well, the best way to notice is if you have gained a significant amount of weight over a period of few days. The fluid status in your body is changed. These extra fluids can last anywhere between few hours and few days.
Sometimes, you can retain water just because of the weather. For example, when it is hot, your body retains more water. Ironically, the answer is to drink more water, just so your body knows it will get the right amount of hydration.
If you are not having some medical problem, you can actually lose water weight quickly just by making few tweaks to your diet. Start by eliminating foods high in salt. That includes fast food, frozen dinner, snack foods, processed food, and chips. In addition, try not to add extra salt to your meals.
And of course, once you eliminate foods high in salt, you need to start consuming more natural diuretics to flush out that extra water weight.