Water Retention: All You Need To Know On How To Reduce It
30 Oct 2018
Yesterday you looked and felt like a skinny Minnie and today you’re struggling to fit into your jeans. Are you going crazy or is it really possible for your weight to fluctuate to such a degree? Annoyingly, you’re not imagining things – you’re probably just experiencing water retention.
Water retention, the basics…
Also known as edema, the condition is categorized as a build-up of excess fluids that can manifest as a bloated face, swollen fingers and puffy-looking legs. Basically, a look you’re not going to love.
Beating the bloat can be tricky as there are many things that cause it and these include being dehydrated, your hormones (whether it be due to your period, pregnancy, menopause or the pill), prolonged periods of sitting and eating certain foods. Certain medications can also cause water retention, particularly antidepressants and certain painkillers like ibuprofen. Ironically, many women take the latter during their period for cramps, a time when you’re especially prone to a bout of puffiness.
More serious causes, however, include an unhappy thyroid and kidneys that aren’t functioning the way they should. If your water retention is chronic, you should definitely make an appointment to see your doctor as it could be a symptom of a more serious condition and treating the latter could resolve the swelling.
Whatever the reason behind your body’s willingness to hold onto excess water, there are ways to help alleviate it.
Start with your diet
Salt is a fast track to fluid retention as it’s well absorbed by your cells but brings water along with it. So, if you eat lots of salt, you puff up with water and will remain that way until your body manages to balance your cellular fluid levels.
The takeaway here is to simply eat less salt or ‘dilute’ what you do with lots of water. It sounds counterintuitive – the idea that drinking more water when you’re holding onto it would help – but often the very reason for the excess fluid is the fact that you’re dehydrated. Your body’s literally acting like a damn.
Refined carbs are also a no-no. They spike your insulin levels that cause your body to retain more salt.
Add a few supplements
While salt pulls water into your cells, potassium pumps it out, thus potassium is your friend, especially after consuming a lot of salt. While banana gets all the glory as a potassium-rich food, there are several others that actually contain a lot more per serving, things like sweet potatoes, beets, Swiss chard and white beans. Good to know, but not always convenient so, to ensure you’re hitting your potassium RDA (100 mg per day), you can always take a supplement.
Two other nutrients you might interested in are magnesium and vitamin B6. Studies have shown that women with PMS-related water retention were able to ease it by increasing their daily intake.
Benefit from plant power
A diuretic is any substance that increases your urine production so you can excrete excess fluid. Certain plants have diuretic effects and these include parsley, garlic, cranberry, nettle and dandelion. You can add most of these into your diet as is or drink the nettle and dandelion as a tea. Both botanicals are perfectly safe to consume while pregnant and nettle tea can also help ease leg cramps.
Book a massage
A lymphatic massage involves an ‘upwards’ technique that encourages the circulation and of fluid throughout the body and is especially helpful for swollen legs. The massage starts at your feet and ankles and moves up towards your knees, assisting your sluggish lymph towards the nodes in your groin that can drain them. This is why, if your legs are feeling heavy, keeping them elevated can also help ease the swelling.
If you have a job that requires you to sit for a long period of time be sure to make an effort to move whenever you can. This could mean making a point of not eating lunch at your desk, going for ‘walk breaks’ and performing aeroplane seat-style exercises like ankle rolling.
You could also invest in a fitness device like a Fitbit that vibrates for every hour you’ve been stationary as a reminder to get up and move.
Try a wrap
Magic Touch Hot Anti-Cellulite Body Wrap is a body gel that generates heat on contact to boost microcirculation as well as cellular metabolism – all the things you want to help stimulate fat burning.
It also contains a lymph-draining complex called Actigym. While it’s no replacement for a good work out, it does encourage a sleeker-looking physique thanks to its diuretic effect. It’s lightweight yet hydrating formula also contains peptides that help encourage collagen production, prevent inflammation and encourage cellular renewal.
Get a good night’s sleep
When they say ‘sleep is medicine’, they’re not kidding. A good night’s sleep has a positive effect on all your body’s functions including your kidneys’ renal nerves. They are involved with the management of balancing fluid and sodium. If you’re consistently not getting enough sleep, be it due to insomnia or sleep apnea, it’s time for a sleep study.
In short, it is possible to ease water retention. However, your best bet will be to make use of several of these solutions, not just one, to enjoy a slimmer-looking silhouette.