Legs, hands, ankles and feet can sometimes become swollen. The reason behind the swelling is retention of water in the body, which is a health condition known as edema. This health condition is characterized by fluid accumulation in the cavities, circulatory system and tissues.

The principal causes for water retention are taking certain medications, pregnancy, sedentary lifestyle, premenstrual syndrome and not being physically active. The swelling can also last for a long time.

In most cases, edema is not a serious health condition. However, in some causes it can be a sign of kidney disease or heart failure. Therefore, it is important to address it and treat it on time.

In this article, we will present you the principal causes of water retention. We will also offer you some suggestions on how to avoid edema and how to reduce the swelling. These tips work only if the swelling is not caused by some other serious medical problem.

The causes of water retention

• Excessive intake of sodium

Your body will start using its water reserves if you are not drinking enough water and you are consuming a diet that is mostly based on foods loaded with sodium. Water allows the cells in the body to expand 20 times. Therefore, it is essential to know which foods contain high sodium amounts and to avoid them.

Sodium is contained in processed meat, salt, canned vegetables, some condiments and other processed products. One way you reverse retention of water caused by overconsumption of table salt is to consume Himalayan sea salt and Celtic salt.

• Being deficient in magnesium

Water retention can also be caused by magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is an essential mineral, which is needed for most of the functions in the body. Therefore, magnesium deficiency can interfere with the proper function of the whole body. Eventually, the result is edema.

According to one scientific study, taking 200 milligrams of magnesium on a daily basis can reduce edema in women with premenstrual symptom. Water retention can effectively be relieved by taking magnesium as a supplement or by increasing the intake of foods rich in magnesium.

Foods that contain magnesium in high amounts are: whole grains, dried fruits, peas, spinach, avocados, dark green vegetables, dark chocolate and nuts.

• Being deficient in vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 deficiency can also cause water retention. This happens because this vitamin is responsible for the body’s water balance.

In one study carried out on women who had water retention problem, the taking of vitamin B6 daily improved the condition. Vitamin B6 is water soluble. Therefore, many factors can influence its proper function. The best way to take this vitamin is to consume whole foods.

Foods that contain high amounts of vitamin B6 are pistachio nuts, potatoes with their skin, sunflower seeds, chicken, bananas, lean beef, dried fruits, tuna and turkey.

• Potassium deficiency

The proper function of the cells, tissues and organs inside the body is determined by the presence of potassium. This mineral is also essential for the normal balance of water inside the body.

A person can become deficient in this mineral if he/she consumes high amounts of salt, while consuming low amounts of foods that are rich in potassium. Potassium deficiency eventually leads to water retention and swelling. The deficiency can lead to cramps, weight gain and muscle spasms. Potassium is able to reduce the sodium levels in the body, which reduces the edema as well.

Foods that are rich in potassium are fruits, such as rockmelon, honey melon and watermelon.

• Dehydration

The body becomes dehydrated when not enough water is consumed. Then, the body starts to retain the water in order to survive. This results in swelling of the legs, feet, hands or ankles. Fortunately, it is easy to solve a dehydration problem. You only need to avoid coffee and soda drinks, while consuming juices and foods rich in potassium and increasing your water intake.

• Consuming too much processed foods

We already spoke about processed foods. They are loaded with sodium and sugar, and sodium is the number one cause behind water retention. Processed foods also contain food additives. The additives are toxic and overload the liver and the kidneys.

Meanwhile, the foods that are loaded with sugar and the artificial sweeteners raise the blood sugar and insulin levels.

This is the reason why processed foods must be avoided at any cost.

Plants that are able to reduce water retention and swelling

The following plants have natural and powerful diuretic properties. Therefore, they are able to reduce edema. These plants are:

• Dandelion
• Corn silk
• Nettle
• Garlic
• Horsetail
• Parsley
• Hibiscus
• Fennel