Water retention is everyone’s favourite reason for explaining weight gain, or difficulty in achieving weight loss. Ask any old friend, who has piled on the pounds, what happened and pat will come the reply – ‘water retention!’ Even so, water retention can affect the best of us and can sometimes indeed sabotage weight loss plans. If you’re feeling puffed and bloated, and don’t seem to get anywhere no matter how many crunches you do, you may be suffering from water retention. Nutritionist Sushila Sharangdhar helps us understand what water retention is and how we can tackle it.
What is Water Retention? Water retention is a condition in which the body retains water. It is a condition that results from water leaking from body tissues to blood. It causes tenderness and swelling, especially in the abdomen. Sometimes it also causes swelling in the feet, legs, arms or abdomen.
Causes of Water Retention: Water retention occurs due to several factors like the body’s reaction to humid weather, hormonal changes during menstrual cycle, pregnancy, menopause and side effects of oral contraceptive pills among women. Nutritional deficiencies, hypothyroidism, heart or liver disorders could be the reasons behind water retention for both, men and women.
Water retention can be diagnosed with the help of the patient’s medical history, a physical examination and other tests like blood test, urine test, liver and kidney function test, chest X-ray or Electro Cardiogram, so that any heart, liver or kidney problems are ruled out.
How to Fight Water Retention with Food:
- Eating a well balanced diet will help you fight water retention.
- Foods high in calcium such as milk, curd or buttermilk help eliminate excess fluid from the body.
- Include foods rich in potassium and Vitamin B complex: Fruits like bananas, papaya and pear; citrus fruits like orange and pineapple will help too.
- Cranberry, grapefruit, melon (watermelon, muskmelon), and avocado juices help fight water retention.
- Nuts like almonds or walnuts and flax seeds are good for water retention too.
- Other foods that will help fight water retention are lean meats like chicken, egg whites and vegetables that belong to the gourd family like bitter gourd, snake gourd etc.
- Increase your fluid intake: Drinking plenty of water (around 2-3 liters everyday), lime water, barley water or coconut water can also speed- up the process of eliminating unwanted fluids from the body.
- Use of diuretics: Diuretics are medicines that induce the kidney to eliminate excess water and sodium from the body, causing a decrease in the blood volume and thereby reducing the blood pressure. Hence, diuretics should be used under the supervision of a doctor or physician. This, of course, only applies to extreme cases of water retention wherein the patient seeks medical counsel.
- Avoid foods high in sodium or with added salt like processed salad dressings, pickles, chips and salted nuts. Any processed, packed or canned foods contain high amount of sodium and usually lead to water retention.
- Avoid excessive intake of caffeinated drinks and beverages like soft drinks, energy drinks, tea, coffee, and alcohol.
Exercise: Taking up an activity like brisk walk, running, jogging for at least 30 minutes can help combat water retention. Exercise helps dilate the blood vessels, thus increasing the amount of fluid that kidneys excrete.
An old home remedy for water retention, specifically for the legs, is to elevate the affected part while sleeping to improve blood circulation. While this does prevent the condition from aggravating, we still think that eating a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly are your safest bets against water retention. If you still experience water retention despite all the healthy foods, diets and activities in your life, maybe it’s time to let a medical professional examine you and rule out any serious ailments.
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