Water weight, water retention or edema all describe the bloated feeling when your body holds excess water in the tissues. Water weight can be caused by medical problems, such as congestive heart failure or, more commonly, by hormonal fluctuations that occur as a result of a woman's monthly cycle. Water retention can be uncomfortable for some people, swelling the hands, legs, feet and abdomen and adding extra pounds for the body to carry around. There are, however, ways to combat this condition.
Reduce your intake of sodium. According to MedlinePlus.com, there are several hidden sources of sodium, such as breads, cereals and canned foods. Soft drinks also generally contain a lot of sodium, which is used as a preservative for many different convenience foods. Check nutrition labels for sodium content. According to MedlinePlus.com, you shouldn't exceed 2,400 milligrams of sodium a day, which is roughly what is found in a teaspoon of salt. If you have high blood pressure that amount is lowered to 1,300 milligrams per day. Excess sodium can't be processed fast enough by the kidneys, so it remains in the bloodstream, attracting and retaining water.
Drink at least 64 ounces of water every day. Water helps to flush excess sodium from the bloodstream, allowing the release of retained water, according to the Better Health Channel. In addition, mild to moderate dehydration can cause your body to retain water for basic processes.
Replace highly processed foods in your home with fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats. Highly processed foods contain excess amounts of sodium which can lead to water weight. The naturally occurring fiber in most of these nutrient-dense foods helps the body get rid of excess fluid, according to MedlinePlus. Additionally, eating more fiber-rich will help fill your stomach and cause you to eat fewer calories, helping you lose weight in a secondary way.
Engage in at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week. Exercise causes you to sweat to maintain a normal temperature. Sweating also draws substances, such as sodium, through the pores, out of the body, reducing a potential cause of water weight. Sweat in the initial stages of physical activity will taste salty, because sodium ions are being released. After this occurs, the sweat will then lose its salty taste, indicating that excess sodium has been excreted.
Take an over-the-counter diuretic, available at your local pharmacy. Preparations that include a diuretic, antihistamine, pain reliever and caffeine, are also available for individuals whose water weight is a premenstrual symptom. Take the medication as directed by the manufacturer. Be sure you drink adequate amounts of water while taking a diuretic, to prevent dehydration. Before you begin a diuretic, consult with your personal physician.
If you are experiencing water weight that does not appear to be caused by hormonal fluctuation or excess sodium consumption, see your doctor. Water retention can be a symptom of an underlying illness.