We’ve all been there. Despite your best efforts, you’re puffy and retaining water. Maybe it happens around your monthly cycle. Maybe you’ve overindulged at dinner with a sodium-rich meal. Or, maybe you just aren’t great at drinking enough water daily, so your body tries desperately to hold onto the fluid it has. So, what’s a girl to do?
This is where some of us might turn to over-the-counter diuretics for help. Diuretics help pull water and salt from our bodies by stimulating our kidneys to release them in the urine.
But water pills have side effects, such as lowering your potassium levels, and can be hard on the kidneys because they may dehydrate you. That’s why it’s sometimes best to consider a natural, whole food route before turning to meds to do the work.
There are plenty of foods that act as natural diuretics—and most of them are plant-based (fruits, veggies and herbs), which we definitely love.
”Many veggies and fruits are high in water content and in potassium, both of which are great for fighting water retention. Eating potassium-rich foods such as bananas, cucumbers and sauerkraut helps you urinate more while also reducing your sodium levels,” says our very own, Keri Glassman MS, RD, CDN, a nationally renowned registered dietitian and nutritionist and Nutritious Life founder.
“I also tell my clients who complain of puffiness to stay hydrated, increase their magnesium intake and to exercise or move more. Do all these things and you’ll be beating the bloat in no time.”
Meanwhile, we’ve rounded up ten of the most effective natural diuretics for you. Read on for the best foods to bring down the bloat.
10 Diuretic Foods to Beat the Bloat
Asparagus contains inulin, a prebiotic fiber that provides health benefits for our digestive tract, promoting better nutrient absorption and lowering the risk of colon cancer. It’s also a natural diuretic—meaning it can rid your body of the excess water it’s holding onto, causing you that uncomfortable belly bloat.
Get your asparagus in the morning with a salmon, feta and asparagus omelet.
Bananas are a go-to for busting bloat. One medium banana has more than 400 mg of potassium, which is a natural diuretic. If you’ve been avoiding bananas because you worry they might constipate you, just stick to ripe bananas. Green, unripened bananas can constipate you, but the ripe ones are full of fiber, which will help get things moving through your digestive tract.
Pair a banana with 2 teaspoons of nut butter for a nutrient-dense snack or breakfast.
Celery juice has had its moment—and for good reason. The fibrous veggie contains phthalides, which contribute to its diuretic effect, as well as COX-2 inhibitors, which work as natural anti-inflammatory agents helping to reduce inflammation and the pain that often comes with it. Celery is particularly great for the swelling of gout because it helps reduce uric acid that tends to collect in the joints of gout sufferers.
RELATED: Is Celery Juice Good For You?
In addition to being wildly low in calories (30 calories per medium cucumber) and one of the very best hydrating foods, cucumbers are also a good source of potassium, magnesium, fiber, vitamin K and vitamin A. It’s also no wonder that cucumbers have been used to reduce puffiness around the eyes. They contain vitamin C and caffeic acid, which both help to fight skin inflammation and irritation. That caffeic acid also helps to flush water out of our bodies. So, go ahead, and add some cucumber to your next glass of H2O!
Pair cucumbers with pineapple (another natural diuretic) for a delicious and puff-busting salad.
Dandelion greens have amazing diuretic properties, which earns them a claim to detox fame. They’re rich in fiber, too, helping to move things along the digestion pathway.
Dandelions aren’t just for picking. To help sooth your digestion and flatten your tummy, add 1 cup dandelion root tea to your nighttime routine. You can also add them into your salad like any other lettuce green.
The ultimate flavor booster, garlic is also a prebiotic that has antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The best part? The allicin in garlic is also a diuretic. The question might be: What doesn’t garlic do? Add it to any and all recipes for a dose of gut-friendly goodness.
While ginger’s diuretic properties have not been studied specifically, the root has been used historically for managing many maladies, including bloating and water retention. According to this review, ginger appears to be safe and its effects are mighty and amazing in its many applications.
All hail, parsley! This everyday herb that we use as garnish for soup or perhaps pasta has so much more potential to improve our health and wellness. Parsley serves double duty as a natural diuretic and a natural laxative. Need a one-two punch? Add a pinch of parsley to your next meal! Or try this kisir salad recipe.
Fermented foods are like a secret weapon for diversifying your gut microbes, which is just what we want for optimal digestion. Sauerkraut is a natural source of probiotic lactic acid, which helps to cleanse the digestive tract but also to remove excess fluid from the body.
Sauerkraut is also an excellent source of vitamins C and B and blessed with loads of minerals such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, iron and many more.
Looking for fermented inspiration? Try this turmeric paste recipe by Adam James, excerpted from the book, “Fermentation Journeys: Recipes, Techniques and Traditions From Around the World” by Sandor Katz.
Watermelon is delicious and hydrating (after all, it has “water” in its name). But it’s also healthier than most people realize. For one, it’s a stellar source of lycopene—a powerful antioxidant. It also contains citrulline, which has been shown to improve vascular function and to reduce blood pressure. Studies show that watermelon also packs a wallop with its significant diuretic properties.
Try this watermelon cucumber smoothie recipe for a double diuretic whammy!