Feel like a balloon about to pop? Bloating makes you worry about what’s happening to your body. Is it an allergic reaction, or is your body having trouble with digestion? What’s going on?
Symptoms of bloating include stomach and abdominal inflation, discomfort, pain and burping. While lying down may feel natural, it can encourage reflux that remains until the food fully digests. The bloating may not result from a heavy meal, though. It may be water retention stemming from the following factors.
- Excessive sodium intake: The American diet is famous for its love of salt, meat and carbs. Excessive salt intake can cause water retention and bloating. Salt contains two primary electrolytes — sodium and chloride. When your loss or intake gets excessive, large amounts of salt lead to an electrolyte imbalance, which causes edema (1). When you get more salt than water in your body, the water becomes trapped between the cells in your tissues or inside the circulatory system.
- Vitamin or mineral deficiency: When your body runs low in vitamins or minerals, it hinders the body from functioning properly and leads to symptoms like water retention. Vitamin B1 loss can cause swelling, stiff joints and aches. High salt intake depletes potassium in the body, and potassium helps your organs, tissues and cells function. Vitamin B6 mitigates water retention by balancing water in the body.
- Certain medications: Vasodilators are drugs that open up your blood vessels and may cause fluid retention, including calcium blockers, estrogen medications, chemotherapy drugs, some diabetes medications and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (2).
How To Reduce Water Retention in 5 Easy Steps
Now you know bloating can result from water retention from excess salt intake, vitamin or mineral deficiency and certain medications. Here are five ways to reduce water retention:
1. Eat Less Salt
Sodium links to water in your body and maintains the balance of water in and out of the body’s cells. Do you mainly consume processed foods? Canned foods and other processed foods are commonly high in salt, which causes water retention. Include more fresh vegetables in your diet, instead of canned, as a first step.
2. Up Magnesium Intake
Magnesium assists with 300 enzymatic reactions that maintain bodily functions (3). Increasing magnesium intake may help fluid retention, especially for women experiencing PMS symptoms. Include more nuts, seeds, grains and leafy greens in your diet.
3. Increase Vitamin B6 Intake
Vitamin B6 groups related vitamins that help form red blood cells and assist with other bodily functions. Increasing your intake of vitamin B6 helps flush out extra water and water-soluble waste from the body (4). Find natural sources of B6 in brown rice, nuts and beans. You must replenish B6 in the body daily, since your body doesn’t make this vitamin.
4. Eat Potassium-Rich Foods
Potassium assists with sending electrical signals that keep your body going and benefit heart health. Potassium reduces edema by reducing sodium levels and boosting urine production. Eat more avocados, tomatoes and bananas (5).
5. Try Dandelion
Dandelion works as a natural diuretic, but don’t pluck them out of your yard if you spray chemicals. Natural diuretics assist with reducing fluid retention by causing you to pee more frequently (6). Ginger and parsley are also other natural diuretics, but check with your doctor for proper dosage and potential side effects or interactions with existing medications.
Water resides inside and outside your body’s cells. It’s part of your blood and helps circulate blood cells throughout the body, keeping nutrients and oxygen in solution so your muscles, bones and glands can absorb them.
Hormones and similar substances help maintain a balanced level of fluid, but imbalances lead to fluid retention. The symptoms may prove mild or lead to swelling and pain.
In some cases, water retention may be symptomatic of chronic conditions or diseases, such as kidney disease, thyroid disease, autoimmune disease or arthritis. If bloating persists, talk to your doctor about testing for other causes. The doctor will ask about your medical history and may do a physical exam, chest X-ray, urine test, blood test or other function tests specific to certain organs.
As with all things in life, balance is key to overcoming water retention and feeling your healthiest. From eating less salt and trying diuretics, like dandelion, these five approaches can help you curb bloating.