High sugar and salt intake can cause bloating and puffiness in the body, particularly in the abdominal area. Typically, this is due to an unbalanced or unhealthy diet. A number of strategies -- involving both diet and lifestyle -- will help you to reduce water retention. Plan on adding more exercise and whole foods to your daily routine.
Start With Your Diet
Your diet is the single most important factor in getting rid of water retention in your body. Your first priority is to rid your diet of sugary and salty foods — eliminate candy, chips, baked goods, sodas, fruit juices and highly preserved foods. If you've been eating these foods for a long time, you may experience withdrawal-like symptoms. You should expect some cravings, irritability and possibly headaches, fatigue and shakiness in extreme cases.
Drink Plenty of Water
Your next priority for reducing water retention is somewhat counterintuitive: Drink more water. Drinking around 2 to 3 quarts of water per day will help your body to flush out the excess salt and sugar in your system, reducing the puffiness and bloating. Water can also help to prevent cravings and to keep you more satisfied after meals, meaning you'll snack less on unhealthy foods. If you dislike drinking plain water, add some lemon or lime, mint or cucumber slices for extra flavor. Failing that, herbal teas can be a useful source of hydration as well.
Eat Your Greens and Grains
Leafy green vegetables, some fruits and whole grains can be beneficial in reducing water retention in the body. Their high fiber content helps to draw excess salt and sugar out of the body in urine. Cruciferous vegetables -- such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage and radishes -- are particularly effective at this. High-fiber fruits include apples, avocados, kiwis and oranges, although these should be eaten in moderation, as they do contain natural sugars. Whole-grain bread, cereals and brown rice are also high in fiber and will help to increase your digestive efficiency.
Look at Your Lifestyle
Water retention can also be caused, or exacerbated, by a range of lifestyle factors. For example, drinking a lot of alcohol or coffee can cause water retention. Standing for long periods of time each day can also bring it on, particularly if you do not exercise regularly and have a weak venous system. To combat lifestyle issues, reduce your alcohol intake or replace it with mineral water. Limit coffee to one or two cups per day. Take a seat when you can, and also exercise regularly.
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Lau Hanly runs Fierce For Life, a nutrition and fitness company that helps young women start with healthy eating and smart training without overwhelming them. She has a certificate of nutrition, and provide individual coaching, standard fitness and nutrition programs, and group training.