There are few things as frustrating as nagging belly bloat when you’re diligently working out and adhering to a healthy diet. Even though you might be doing all the right things (giving up cookies and skipping the hazelnut creamer in coffee), feeling the way you want to feel may be less about cutting things out and, well, adding in things! So, if you’ve tried nixing salt, gluten, dairy, and soda, and you’re still suffering from a bloated tummy, try enjoying some of these doctor-recommended natural diuretic foods. All of them work to boost gut health while getting rid of excess fluid.
There are few things as refreshing as nice, ice cold watermelon—and for good reason, since it’s 92 percent water. “Although this fruit does have a lot of natural sugar, it’s a healthy choice that stimulates urination with the nutrients it houses,” says NYC physical therapist Dr. Karena Wu. Because of its high water content, however, watermelon works best eaten as is; most juices and popsicles you’ll find—even the so-called natural ones—will be loaded with added sugar.
Most folks know that distinct smell your urine gets after consuming asparagus—we know, ew. It happens fast, which in and of itself is proof that this vegetable is a fantastic diuretic. The reason for the ephemeral odor is a compound called mercaptan, which releases odorous byproducts when broken down by the digestive system. “Within 30 minutes of consuming this vegetable, you can smell the mercaptan as asparagus is a diuretic,” explains Dr. Wu.
There’s a reason so many wellness experts swear by starting their morning with a cup of hot water and a squeeze of lemon. “Not only are lemons fantastic for helping to flush the system of excess water, but they are also known to help rid the body of toxins,” says Dr. Wu.
Nettle leaves contain vitamins, minerals, and various other compounds. These components work to support the body’s organs of elimination, help with frequent urination at night for men, and help with general detoxification, according to clinical nutritionist Dr. Michael Forman. Add this nutritionally-dense herb to your salads or brew a teaspoon as tea.
It may seem obvious, but one of the most overlooked ways to fight fluid retention is upping your water intake. “In one end, out the other,” says Dr. Wu. “Water helps move things along and keeps the body hydrated. When the body is hydrated, it doesn’t need to hold on to excess fluid, thereby helping as a diuretic.”
D-what? We hear you. “D. Horsetail is an herbal remedy that contains flavonoids and other substances to support and maintain cellular integrity, encourage healthy urinary tract function, help support healthy fluid levels and supports healthy blood function,” says Dr. Forman. The herb gets brownie points for also working to possibly inhibit cancer cell growth, according to PennState Hershey research. It’s commonly taken in supplement form, but can also be consumed via herbal infusion; just pour hot water over two or three teaspoons of the herb and steep it for a few minutes.
Dr. Wu singles out cucumbers as being one of her favorite natural diuretics because it’s naturally hydrating. “It quickly works to help shed the body of excess water since it contains a lot of vitamins and minerals, in addition to its high water content,” she says.
“Dandelion leaves contain vitamins, minerals (including potassium), and other compounds that work to encourage healthy fluid levels and stimulate healthy urinary flow,” says Dr. Forman. Note that these greens are bitter, so pair them with something sweet like a honey lemon dressing. Just please steer clear of these salad dressings worse than chocolate syrup!
This is about to get a little science-heavy, so try and stick with us. “Carbamide, also called urea, is manufactured in the liver during detoxification of ammonia generated from protein metabolism,” explains Dr. Forman. “Carbamide is released into the blood, passes through the kidneys, and is then excreted. Either carbamide or sodium chloride must be available to encourage water output in the kidneys.” Given how essential it is, Dr. Forman suggests that those suffering from bloated stomachs consult with their physician about taking a supplement to ensure a sufficient amount. (Note: Some fertilizers have the same name; do not eat your fertilizer.)
Nutritionists often recommend celery to clients looking to lose weight because it’s low in calories, contains a lot of fiber, and has a high water content—which means you’re bod will be more efficiently flushed out. Better yet, it’s a versatile vegetable that works just as well in a soup or dipped into some hummus.
Mint is commonly added to the salads, juices, and smoothies that you find at health food stores—and for good reason. The plant works to naturally treat fluid retention while boosting digestion. If you’re feeling bloated after a large meal, pour hot water over a few mint leaves and let them steep for 5-10 minutes.
Birch water is the sap directly tapped from birch trees. There are a growing number of options of this plant-based water, like Sibberi, lining supermarket shelves and they’re worth considering since they are said to have cleansing and detoxifying properties particularly for the liver and kidney. “It helps get rid of water retention due to diuretic properties and stimulates the digestive system acting as a digestive aid/tonic,” according to nutritionist Peggy Kotsopoulos.
Ginger is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatories because it works to flush out excess fluids. Simply add it to your tea or salad, or chop it up and use it in the dressing for whatever protein you’re whipping up for dinner.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Along with helping to flush out your system, apple cider vinegar will help you meet your potassium requirement and work to help regulate blood pressure. While taking a spoonful of apple cider vinegar “straight up” will be more effective, the taste could be too much for many. Use it for salad dressing or other recipes and make sure you check out our apple cider vinegar tips and tricks for plenty of ideas.
A sweet natural diuretic! Peaches can be an effective diuretic when eaten as is or you can add them to smoothies and salads. If you find you are having issues going to the bathroom, Werner-Gray says you can eat as many as six peaches as a meal. Better make sure you’re close to a bathroom, though.
Beets helps flush the liver; many people say they have to go to the bathroom immediately after consuming them. “The best way to get the full benefits of beets is by juicing them,” says Werner-Gray, who recommends also adding in some carrots, apple, and ginger for a refreshing and effective diuretic juice.
The yummy yellow fruit is high in digestive enzymes and is a natural diuretic, according to Liana Werner-Gray, author of The Earth Diet. Pineapples are a versatile diuretic since you can eat them as is, juice them, or add them to smoothies.
“Cilantro helps cleanse heavy metals from the system,” says Werner-Gray. “You could also combine the cilantro with parsley, one avocado, and lemon juice for a diuretic salad!”
High in nutrients and water, kale helps get rid of fluid retention, according to Werner-Gray. “Add kale to soups, stir-fry dishes, salad, smoothies, or juice it.” For those who are on a budget or are time-crunched, she recommends using a powder that has multiple servings of greens in one, like Phresh Greens.
These are the newest superfood on the block and their popularity is being led by Organic Gemini, which makes a wide variety of tigernut-based snacks including raw snacks, oil, and flour. What’s interesting about tigernuts is that they’re not tigers nor nuts, but actually vegetables with a coconut-esque taste and crunchy texture. “They contain the same amount of iron as red meat and are high in potassium, elements that encourage cleansing and urination,” says Werner-Gray. Last but not least, tigernuts are one of the very best resistant starches, which aids weight loss because they’re digested more slowly than “normal” starch.