Normally, the human body consists of about 60% water, which is distributed in all tissues and makes up a large part of the blood and organs. However, it is possible that the amount of water in the body -or fluids in general- increases above normal levels, leading to the so-called water retention, which is usually an unpleasant and quite disturbing condition. Its main symptoms include an increase in waist circumference, swelling (especially in the abdomen and lower limbs or ankles) and sudden weight gain or unreasonable weight fluctuations from day to day. Yet, there is no need to worry. If you follow some simple and easy tips, you will manage to get rid of retention easily and quickly!
Causes of water retention
There are multiple reasons that may lead to water retention in the body. However, the most important reasons are:
Diet rich in salt: The main -and perhaps the most common- cause of retention is the increased consumption of salt. Salt, and more specifically the sodium contained in it, leads to water reabsorption by the kidneys, ultimately causing fluid retention in the body.
Insufficient water intake: When the human body is not supplied with an adequate amount of water, it begins to store fluids to protect itself, leading to retention.
Lack of physical activity: Lack of physical activity or any form of exercise, immobility as well as prolonged standing, are also possible reasons.
Dietary habits: Poor diet – especially if combined with lack of exercise – exacerbates retention. Small, daily changes in your nutrition plan along with physical activity will bring huge results.
Hormonal reasons: Hormonal changes or disorders affect the balance of fluids and minerals in the body, resulting in abnormal fluid retention. Women, for example, deal with several hormonal changes (especially in estrogen and progesterone levels) that take place during menstruation, leading to changes in the body’s fluid balance and retention. The same applies as well to the menopause period.
Pregnancy: Water retention is one of the most common symptoms that appear during pregnancy, due to the increased production of the hormone “aldosterone”.
Medications: The list of medications that may cause water retention is quite long. If you are under medication, be aware that it can affect the fluid balance in the body, leading to weight gain or fluctuations. Finally, retention may also be a symptom of a serious disease. If you notice sudden or severe symptoms, contact your doctor.
Tips to get rid of water retention
If you face a mild retention -not caused by medications or health issues- a few small and easy changes to your daily routine can yield excellent results. Keep in mind the following useful tips:
- Consume less salt. Since excessive consumption of salt (sodium) is the main cause of water retention, reducing salt-sodium intake is the optimal solution to deal with it. Cut down salt when cooking and check the labels of packaged foods for any added salt.
- Increase potassium. Unlike sodium, potassium has the opposite effect. It helps to eliminate excess fluid from the body, reducing sodium levels and increasing diuresis.
- Increase magnesium intake. Dark chocolate, nuts, legumes, bananas, avocados and green leafy vegetables are rich in magnesium food options.
- Drink more water. Adequate hydration is vital for fluid balance and counteracts retention. Set a daily target of drinking 1.5 – 2lt of fluids.
- Keep fried or fatty foods as well as processed carbohydrates to a minimum.
- Avoid alcohol or soft drinks.
- Include physical exercise in your daily routine.
- Quit smoking.
To sum up, a healthy lifestyle, following a balanced Mediterranean diet, reducing sodium intake, increasing water consumption and incorporating physical activity, is the perfect and most effective way to deal with retention.