Water Retention: Reasons and remedies

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Water Retention: Reasons and remedies

Find out why water may be adding pounds to your weight

By Reem Abdallah

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Published: Sat 30 Apr 2016, 12:00 PM

Last updated: Sat 30 Apr 2016, 2:53 PM

Have you ever heard the term water retention or excess water? Well, although a major constituent of our body is water, we can still gain weight due to water retention.
This condition is the result of imbalance in electrolytes, minerals and water in our bodies.
Water retention can sometimes be an indication of a very serious medical problem, so whenever you have water retention, it is better to consult your healthcare provider.
Signs and symptoms

  • Swelling of body parts (ankles, feet and hands)
  • When pressed, the skin may show the indent for a few seconds
  • Bloated tummy
  • Feeling stiff or having joints and muscle aches
  • Weight fluctuation
  • Increased pulse
  • Difficulty breathing
 There are different causes for water retention, some of which can be summarised as follows:
Dietary habits: Nowadays, our daily diet and the food we consume, is very high in salt and sodium. The consumption of sodium, may in turn lead to water retention. Sodium is found in processed foods, pickles, readymade salad dressings, canned food, etc. Another dietary habit that also causes water retention is a low protein diet.
Exercise: People with very low activity levels, either due to health problems, lack of exercise, pregnancy, etc., tend to develop swollen limbs and have water retention. Exercise is the best defence against this phenomenon. On the other hand, people who don't exercise often develop swollen limbs, over-burdened organs and gain weight easily. Exercise is, in fact, one of the best defences against water retention.
Medication: Some over-the-counter drugs such as steroids, contraceptives, antidepressants and hormones interfere with the process of fluid removal. Whenever you are taking any of these medications, pay attention to any signs of swelling or oedema and consult your doctor if you have any doubts.
Diseases: Hypertension, congestive heart failure, hypothyroidism, liver disease and some allergic reactions may lead to retention.
Pregnancy: Pregnancy causes a change in the hormones, which may lead to fluid imbalance, causing water retention.
Water retention usually clears up by itself. However, here are some self-help measures that will help you lose the excess fluid:
Increase your protein intake as per the recommended 0.8 g/kg of your body weight.
Increase your potassium intake; this helps reduce fluid retention.
Consult your doctor on your medication dosage, if you are on any.
Add more water-containing fruits and vegetables such as cucumber, parsley, salad leaves, watermelon and oranges, etc., which are natural diuretics.
Drink more water, as water retention results from a lack of water consumption. Water will help your kidneys flush the extra fluids. Aim for eight to 12 glasses per day.
Reduce your sodium intake and try consuming homemade food as much as possible. When eating out, look out for options that are low in salt.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet that contains a lot of vegetables, grains and other high-fibre foods. This is to prevent any deficiencies and because fibre cleanses the colon/intestinal tract, keeping things moving smoothly. It also aids in the removal of excess fluid.
Exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes a day to keep the blood circulating in your system, thus preventing water retention. Whenever you suspect having water retention, try looking out for its signs and symptoms. If you do find any, please consult your healthcare provider, so they can help you solve this issue. Reem Abdallah is a Junior Dietician at Health Factory.

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