What causes water retention and how to get rid of it
Up to 70 percent of the human body consists of water – it exists both inside and outside the body’s cells. Blood is mostly made up of water, as are organs and muscles. Water retention (or fluid retention) refers to an excessive build up of fluid in the circulatory system, body tissues, or cavities in the body.
A complex system of hormones and prostaglandins (hormone-like substances) are used by the human body to regulate water levels. This means that excess water can be excreted quickly from the kidneys in the form of urine. Likewise, if we drink less fluid, there will be less urine produced.
Water retention can occur in many different areas of the body and for different reasons. We will look at these individually.
Symptoms of water retention
Symptoms of water retention can include:
bloating, especially in the abdominal area
swollen legs, feet, and ankles
puffiness of the abdomen, face, and hips
indentations in the skin, similar to what you see on your fingers when you’ve been in the bath or shower a long time
What causes water retention?
A number of factors can cause water retention, including:Flying in an airplane – changes in cabin pressure and sitting for an extended period of time may cause your
body to hold on to water.
Standing or sitting too long – gravity keeps blood in your lower extremities. It’s important to get up and move around often to keep blood circulating. If you have a sedentary job, schedule time to get up and walk around.
Menstrual changes and fluctuating hormones.
Eating too much sodium – you may get too much sodium by using a lot of table salt or ingesting processed foods and soft drinks.
Medications – some medications have water retention as a side effect. These include:
over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers
blood pressure medications
Weak heart – a weak heart that can’t pump blood well can cause the body to retain water.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – leg swelling can be caused by DVT, which is a clot in a vein.
Pregnancy – the shift in weight during pregnancy can cause the legs to retain water if you don’t move around regularly.
Remedies for water retention include:
1. Follow a low-salt diet
Try to limit your intake of sodium to no more than 2,300 milligrams per day. This means shopping the perimeter of the grocery store and not eating processed, packaged foods. Try adding spices instead of salt to flavor vegetables and lean proteins.
2. Add in potassium- and magnesium-rich foods
They will help balance out your sodium levels. Options include:
leafy vegetables, such as spinach
3. Take a vitamin B-6 supplement
According to a study published in the Journal of Caring Sciences, vitamin B-6 significantly helped with premenstrual symptoms like water retention.
4. Eat your protein
Protein attracts water and keeps your body balanced. A special protein called albumin keeps fluid in the bloodstream and prevents it from leaking out and causing swelling.
5. Keep your feet elevated
Elevating your feet can help move the water upward and away from your lower extremities.
6. Wear compression socks or leggings
Compression socks are becoming more popular and easier to find. They are available at athletic clothing stores and many online sites. Compression socks are made to fit tight. They may even feel a little uncomfortable at first. The purpose of compression apparel is to squeeze your legs and prevent fluid from accumulating.