Have you ever heard someone say I am having a fat day today? Well apart from the psychological aspect of a ‘fat day’ there are other reasons which can influence how we fit in our clothes and how our body feels. So if one day you fit just right in your jeans and the next they feel claustrophobic it could be that you have water retention.
Water retention (water weight) or fluid retention is when your body will retain excess fluid in the tissues and/or the cavities of the body beyond the normal standards. There are a number of different reasons why your body will retain water. Water retention can be visible such as oedema which is associated with the retention of fluids beneath the skin or in one or more cavities of the body and it usually causes swelling.
As there are a number of different reasons why your body will accumulate excess fluids there are different ways to lose the excess fluids and water weight.
Not a recommended way to lose water weight. People on fast low calorie diets which usually last one week tend to lose mostly water. However, that is not a recommended way to go about losing water weight. If you haven’t really got water retention and you just need to look good in that dress for one night you may just achieve that with following a fast diet. However, you will have most probably dehydrated your body and as soon as you start eating normally it will all come back on.
This is without saying that you will most probably be stressing out your body and could have health risks. In addition a weight loss diet is not always what your body needs. Water retention can be cause due to malnutrition and very low calorie intake (especially if consuming less than 1200 kcal). In other words you could be just exacerbating the problem. Most of all water retention could be the symptom of an underlying health condition and it may need medical attention.
As mentioned above water retention could be a symptom of a health condition so it is very important that you consult a medical professional first before you look at any option. Some of the medical reasons which can lead to water retention include:
· Kidney disease
· Cardiovascular disease
· Thyroid dysfunction
· Hormonal imbalances
· Pre-menstrual Syndrome
There are a number of other health reasons why your body may retain water and it is most important to follow a correct medical investigation. It is always highly recommended not to try to home remedy or follow box standard diets designed for losing water if are suffering or have concerns that you may be suffering from any health conditions as it could have detrimental effects for health.
You wouldn’t think of it but dehydration itself can lead to water retention. Your body is designed for survival and if you deprive it from what it needs it will hold on for dear life in what it’s got. Drinking plenty of water will also help circulation and clearance of fluids from the body.
It is a misconception to think that since your body holds on to water is better to avoid water.
Eating too much salt can lead or exacerbate water retention. Although it is suggested that excess consumption of salt is unlikely to cause a massive amount of water retention, it definitely will not help with the problem and it is also not recommended for health. It could also exacerbate other health conditions responsible for water retention such as kidney disease and cardiovascular diseases.
Sodium, which is a component of salt, tends to regulate water balance in the body. Sodium is necessary for a number of functions in the body, but as with everything else when in excess can lead to dysfunctions.
A large amount of salt consumed from the diet does not necessarily come from the salt shaker. Processed foods, takeaways, tin food and junk food in general contain large amounts of sodium and salt. Cutting down on such foods, or reading the labels on foods and making healthier choices will decrease your salt intake by a lot more than just not adding salt in your food.
Water retention can be a symptom indicating that the body lacks of protein. Usually very low calorie diets followed for long period of times and vegetarian or vegan diets inadequate in good quality protein can lead to protein deficiencies.
Being protein deficient does not necessarily mean that someone will be underweight as protein deficiency does not always reflect body weight but quality of everyday diet. Someone who is obese could be protein deficient if the everyday diet they follow is high on carbohydrates and sugars and very low on protein.
As mentioned earlier water retention can be a reflection of the quality of the diet someone follows. Diets high in carbohydrates and Glycemic Load have been associated with increased risk of inflammation, obesity and high risk of development of conditions such as metabolic syndrome, and diabetes.
Such conditions can lead in water retention and oedema. On the other hand diets low in carbohydrates, sugars and glycemic load have in general been associated with promoting positive health outcomes. In particular Mediterranean dietary patterns have been suggested by a number of studies as providing a healthy balanced dietary style and decreasing the risk of developing such health conditions as mentioned above, and/or helping to improve health outcomes. Mediterranean style diets constitute of ample fruit and veg, moderate protein intake and fats such as olive oil and fish oils. Such components are rich in antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and omega fats.
As mentioned above, fruit and vegetables contain a number of antioxidant components, minerals and vitamins which help to improve the body’s functions and promote health. They also contain a large amount of water which will further help in keeping hydrated.
Inflammation and obesity largely constitute in water retention. Aiming for weight loss with a healthy balanced diet can make miracles for your body.
Do you feel bloated after you have eaten certain foods? The problem may simply come from an intolerance or allergy to specific foods. Intolerances and/or allergies do not necessarily lead to big allergic reactions but it could be subtle symptoms such as bloating, feeling sick or water retention amongst others.
Allergies and intolerances if unnoticed can lead into chronic inflammations and high amounts of histamine in the body. Apart from the fact that it is not good for your health and can lead to other serious problems, it could lead to water retention. Avoid the foods which irritate your digestive system, make you bloat or just don’t agree with you. If unsure and you have concerns consult a medical professional who can properly assess you for food intolerances and allergies or other metabolic functions.
Lack of movement will affect blood circulation amongst others and can lead in water retention and oedema. Exercise will improve blood circulation and aid with lymphatic function which in result can help in reducing water retention.
You don’t have to rush and join the gym, but you can take a walk, pilates, or use the stairs, cycle or swim. In simple words start moving around.
If you spend a lot of time standing up (in your job for example) or after a long flight you may noticed that your legs feels swollen. Elevating your legs preferably above the heart can help to alleviate the swelling and oedema. Just put your feet up after a long day and place your legs on a stool when you are sitting down.
This may also be helpful for people who suffer with bad circulation. Think of gravity.
Medication can have a dual effect. There are certain types of medication which encourage water excretion such as anti-diuretic tablets. These are usually prescribed by a medical professional as part of treatment for certain health conditions. It is not advised to source the internet to try to find them in the black market in order to help you lose water weight. As with every medication they carry risks and they can have serious complications if taken inappropriately.
On the other hand there are some types of medications which could lead to water retention. Your medical professional should be the one to advise you regarding medications and how to deal with side effects. Always read the leaflets provided with the tablets for side effects or other information provided and if you have any further concerns advise your doctor.
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Hara Hagikalfa completed her BSc(Hons) in Health and Exercise Science, Sports Science and Medicine. She is a certified Personal Trainer and Pilates instructor. You can learn more about Hara here, and connect with her on Facebook.