By Michelle DeLiso
Bananas are a natural source of potassium, a nutrient needed to help the body balance fluids. Not a banana fan? Apricots, avocados and raisins are potassium-rich, too. Strive for 5 grams of potassium daily. Other nutrients to include each day through diet or supplements: 300-400 milligrams of magnesium (food sources include green vegetables, nuts, seeds) and 1000-1200 milligrams of calcium (orange juice, yogurt, tofu). Getting an adequate amount of each can help alleviate bloating.
Many foods and herbs promote digestion and fluid-shedding: yogurt, fiber-rich cereal, brown rice, cabbage and cranberry juice. Ginger and dandelion have a mild diuretic effect. Both are available in tea so you can brew yourself a slenderizing drink.
Surplus salt makes the body retain fluids, but you'll need to do more than hide the salt shaker. Steer clear of high sodium foods like hot dogs, olives, salted nuts, pickles and many frozen foods. Be on the lookout for less obvious sources such as soy sauce, ketchup, deli meats and cheese.
Skip the Sugar
Too much sugar can raise insulin levels, decreasing the body's ability to excrete sodium. Avoid high sugar foods, like sweetened cereals, cakes, cookies, ice cream toppings and products containing high-fructose corn syrup, such as soda.
Of course a low-cal diet will help you lose weight, but shed too many calories and you could create water retention. Don't eat less than 1,200 calories per day and include lean protein, an important nutrient in short supply in very low-cal diets that helps stave-off water retention.
Your lymphatic system can't drain excess fluid out of tissues without body movement. Exercise about four times a week to relieve your body of extra fluid and salt through sweating and increased respiration.
Alcohol acts as a diuretic at first, making you lose excess water. But that loss can lead to dehydration, causing the body to preserve its fluids. Opt for virgin cocktails, or dilute that glass of wine with seltzer.
Take a swim. Water pressure forces fluid out of tissues and ultimately, the bladder. To emulate those results, take some of your workouts to the pool.
While it seems contradictory, drinking plenty of plain
water -- 8 to 10 glasses per day -- will flush salt and fluid out of your system. A well-hydrated body in less likely to retain water.
Spread It Out
Eat five or six small meals instead of three big meals. Nibbling or drinking at frequent intervals will keep you nourished and hydrated and will help avoid the rush of fluid to the tissues that may occur with eating large infrequent meals.