Bloating and water retention can strike at any time of the day, so here, we share some tips that scientifically combat swollen bellies. Samantha Emms writes.

Handy solutions to beating water retention



The Journal of Women’s Health published findings determining that 200 mg of magnesium per day reduced water retention in women with premenstrual symptoms (PMS). “Magnesium is involved in more than 300 enzymatic reactions that keep the body functioning. Adequate magnesium intake may help reduce water retention, particularly surrounding the menstrual cycle,” says Maeve Stewart, nutritionist and personal trainer at Optimum Nutrition & Training.

Good sources of magnesium include wholegrains, dark chocolate and leafy, green vegetables.

The Journal of Caring Sciences determined B6 was also handy for reducing water retention due to its importance in the formation of red blood cells and other key functions in the body. Dose up on foods rich in vitamin B6 by eating plenty of bananas, potatoes, walnuts and meat.

Next point of call is potassium, which decreases sodium levels and increases urine output, helping to de-bloat, a study in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases found. Think bananas, avocados and tomatoes.

Lastly, in a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, three doses of dandelion leaf extract were given to 17 volunteers over a 24-hour period. Scientists monitored fluid intake and output, noting a significant increase in urine production; while kinda gross, all signs point to dandelion extract as an effective diuretic.

There are also a host of water retention solutions that aren’t exactly proven by science, but are backed by common folk lore (at the least):

» Move: a lack of exercise could be the cause for belly bloat, so light walking can aid in reducing fluid build-up

» Drink more water: some believe that increasing water intake can paradoxically reduce water retention

» Herbs: horsetail, parsley and corn silk have all been historically used for their diuretic effects

» Garlic: while most turn to garlic for a wintry cold, Advances in Therapy published a study that points to garlic as a successful diuretic

» Cranberry juice: another with supposed diuretic effects (and it can’t hurt, right?)

That said, if all signs of your bloat point to inadequate bile production:

“Bitter foods (broccoli, kale, chard, spinach, bitter melon), dandelion greens, raw cacao powder, endive, cilantro, salad greens, such as radicchio and arugula, all contain liver-boosting nutrients such as sulfur and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). These are necessary for the body to be able to produce bile, which is needed for optimal digestion and to help the liver work at prime level,” says Stewart.