Fluid retention can present itself in the body for a number of different reasons. “This includes excess salt in the diet, hormone fluctuations, medications such as the pill or nutrient deficiencies,” nutritionist Steph Geddes tells Sporteluxe. “Fluid retention is basically when there is a build-up of water in our tissues that hasn’t been drained by the lymph system.
As for what you can do about it? “You want to keep your sodium down but increase your potassium, so avoid processed food and instead go for leafy greens, sweet potato, pumpkin, prunes, yoghurt, citrus fruits and dried beans, salmon and soybeans.”
Steph shares that both dandelion and nettle tea are great options to incorporate into your diet in addition to celery juice, parsley and fennel as they all offer natural diuretic effects which help flush water out of the body.
Bananas, on the other hand, are a good source of potassium which helps counteract levels of sodium in the body.
“Adding foods high in magnesium can also help with fluid retention,” adds naturopath and nutritionist, Jess Blair. Think; beans, nuts and wholegrains. “Eating foods high in vitamin B6 such as walnuts, bananas and potatoes [as mentioned above] can also be beneficial.” If you experience fluid retention on a regular basis, Jess also recommends limiting your intake or avoiding caffeine and alcohol.
Now that takes care of the food, but what other lifestyle changes can you make to help things along? First and foremost, Jess suggests regular exercise to assist with circulation and drinking enough water every day (which sounds counterintuitive however fluid retention could be a result of dehydration). Making sure you’re getting a good night’s sleep is another big one which also comes with its own extensive list of broader health benefits.
And let’s not forget, if you’re anything like me and prone to ankle swelling on long-haul flights (the struggle is real), Jess advises getting up from your seat and walking around to get your body moving as well as investing in a pair of compression stockings or socks to minimise fluid build-up in your lower limbs. Massages in the form of lymphatic drainage can also work a treat if you’re in the mood for a little self-care.
Although there are a few diet and lifestyle tweaks you can make to assist with reducing fluid in the body, both Steph and Jess state that it could, in fact, be a symptom of a more serious health condition, in which case it’s best to seek advice from your healthcare professional.