Tired of feeling swollen and bloated? Avoid foods that cause water retention

Foods that cause water retention must be reduced from your diet, and you should pick healthy habits to fight inflammation.
water retention
Fight water retention by avoiding these foods. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Nidhi Nahata Updated: 19 Mar 2024, 14:43 pm IST
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A common complaint we have as we grow older, is that of swollen joints. We don’t realize that this is due to certain habits we’ve imbibed in our daily lives, which lead to inflammation in some parts of the body. Food plays a huge role. So, are there any foods that cause water retention?

Water retention or edema, is caused by the build-up of fluid in the tissues of our body. Water retention is the primary cause of swelling in parts of the body such as legs, feet, ankles, under the eyes, etc. It occurs due to many reasons: excess consumption of salt, alcohol, a lack of fibre in the diet and insufficient consumption of nutrient-rich food, side effects of certain medications and a sedentary lifestyle.

Swollen feet, inflammation and bloating are very common symptoms of water retention, which shouldn’t be ignored or dismissed. They are nature’s way of signalling us that we could have contracted some infection, injury or are lacking fibres in our diet, leading to a build up of toxins in the system. There are a certain variety or combination of foods that cause water retention, and lead to a lot of inflammation. For example, combining fruits, vegetables and grains together leads to bloating and swelling in the body.

What foods cause water retention?

1. Fruits combined with veggies and grains

Fruits, combined with vegetables and grains are the worst foods for water retention. When fruit is consumed, we should observe a gap of 2 hours before we eat our meals. Eating a fruit after a meal is not recommended even in traditional Indian medicine like Ayurveda. Fruits digest faster than vegetables and grains, when we are not mindful and combine all of them, it results in bloating and swelling in the body. Inflation and swelling also occur when we are on an unhealthy diet. This study, published in Nutrients, states the combining fruits with vegetables can lead to inflammation.

2. Sugar, white flour and oil

Sugar, white flour, and oil are all part of the list of foods that cause water retention. These are refined, which means the most intelligent ingredient ‘fibre’ is missing. Fibre helps regulate a lot of the internal processes of our organs – namely the digestive function and excretion and makes the job of our intestines and kidneys much easier. Constipation from a primarily refined food diet could also be one of the major reasons for swelling. This study, published in World Journal of Gastroenterology, states that inadequate fibre intake can lead to contipation.

Sugar intake can lead to inflammation
Excess sugar is not good for health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Meat

Meat, particularly red meat, is high in saturated fat, leading to indigestion which in turn leads to swelling. Milk contains growth hormones that are injected into dairy cows, pus cells, antibiotics, and are designed for baby calves’ growth and not for the human body.

According to a study, published in National Institute of diabetes and digestive and kidney diseases states that 36 percent of people in the US has lactose malabsorption, that is an ability to absorb lactose. One study found that 60 percent of humans are actually lactose intolerant and lack the gene to properly digest animal milk. We don’t realize we are allergic, but the indicators could be acne, indigestion, bloating and swelling. As we are conditioned to believe that milk is the most important food in our diet, it’s difficult for us to come to terms with the fact that the swelling and inflammation we might be experiencing could be because of the milk we hold so dear to our diets.

4. Alcohol

Alcohol impairs not only our gut and liver but through multi-organ interaction it also leads to a lot of swelling and inflammation due to water retention.

How avoid swelling due to water retention in our body:

1. Sunlight exposure

Sitting in the sunlight helps destroy the bad bacteria that cause infections in the body. If we are suffering from an infection, sunlight could be the easiest cure for it, thereby negating infection-related swelling.

2. Food timings

Eating before sunset and giving a minimum of a 12-hour window before we eat our next meal will give our body the chance to heal itself and recover after digesting our last meal. That’s why fasting is considered one of the most effective remedies of healing any sort of inflammation swelling and bloating in the body.

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Food timings to fight inflammation
Too much gap between meals is not good if you’re trying to fight water retention. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Stay hydrated

Our body is made up of 60 percent of water. When there is a shortage of hydration in our bodies, they tend to hang onto whatever water they have. When we walk or exercise there is movement inside our body that helps allow the water to leave.

Drinking enough water ensures that the body is hydrated enough, and need not hold on to its water stores, which lead to water retention.

4. Fibre-rich food

Eating fibre-rich fruits and veggies that help digest our food, and ease its passage through the intestines, also has the added benefit of reducing water retention in the body.

By imbibing these tips and avoiding refined foods, meat, milk, and not eating any other combination of foods with fruits, we can make water retention-induced swelling and inflammation a thing of the past.

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About the Author

Nidhi Nahata, Founder & Food Therapist, Justbe Resto Cafe, Bangalore ...Read More

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