Water Water Everywhere! 10 Causes of Water Retention

I have had several messages specifically regarding Water Retention. So I will try to explain what the main causes are and what you can do about it. Firstly I must state that I am a personal trainer not a doctor, so I will give you this based on my understanding, and lots of help from the internet!

Well known causes of water retention include heart or kidney problems, the heart and kidneys struggle to work properly and can cause swelling in the legs and ankles. If you are suffering from water retention you need to see your doctor, to rule out anything sinister. You should always contact your doctor if your skin stays swelled for a long period of time or if you poke yourself with your finger and it leaves an indentation mark.

5 Signs that You Are Retaining Water

1. If your socks leave a ring around your leg.
2. When you can not remove your rings because your fingers are swollen.
3. When you have a problem getting your trousers to zip up and down all of a sudden.
4. When you gain several pounds in just a day or so.
5. You have “smoothed out” or lost your definition – for lean people only

10 Causes of Water Retention

1. Inactivity
Weak circulation in the leg veins is probably the most common cause of water retention in legs and ankles.
People who spend a lot of time immobile, e.g. those in hospital beds, wheelchairs, or on long-haul flights, even “couch potatoes” can develop water retention because without regular movement, it is difficult for your lymphatic system to drain excess fluid out of your tissues. Exercise help to boost this process.

2. Pregnancy
Water retention occurs in pregnancy and causes swelling.

3. Older people
In older people this problem may also result in varicose veins.

4. Ladies Week ;-)
Premenstrual water retention is also common, and is caused by the hormonal changes of the menstrual cycle.

5. Salt
One of the main causes of water retention is eating too much salty food. The main component of salt is sodium, which the body dilutes with water if too much of it is present. Salt makes you thirsty, and your body will hold on to this water. Reducing the amount of salt in your diet will help you to release a little water retention but not usually more than about 2 lbs in weight.

Even a relatively salty diet, although it can be harmful in many ways, will not normally cause excessive water retention.

Lesser-known Causes

6. Hormones and Medicines
High levels of certain hormones can also make your body hold on to water. These include insulin, which is needed to process sugar; cortisone, which is produced when you are under stress; and the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. The water-retaining effect is caused by the effects which these hormones have on sodium levels in your body, and on the hormones which govern how your kidneys work. Certain prescribed medicines such as the contraceptive pill and some painkillers can affect levels of these hormones. Water retention which is caused by hormones can be spread around the body but often affects your tummy most of all. Women can also get water retention in the breasts, which causes tenderness and swelling.

7. Wastes and Toxins
Cellulite, which mostly affects women’s thighs, is a form of fat combined with retained water. Sometimes it holds so much water that it is swollen and painful to the touch. Metabolic wastes and toxins such as pesticides which the body cannot easily release tend to be stored in this fat. It is thought the causes of the water retention in cellulite are either irritation or swelling due to these toxins, or results from the body’s attempt to dilute them.

8. Low-Calorie Diets
If you have water retention you are very likely to be overweight. But overweight people tend to go on a low-calorie diet. A low-calorie diet will unfortunately not get rid of water retention – it can actually make it worse, especially if you eat less than 1,200 Calories a day for months or years. This is because you may not have enough protein in your blood to draw excess water out of your tissues. This type of water retention can cause generalised puffiness but if severe can give you a swollen tummy.

9. Histamine
Histamine causes water retention leading to bloating and tummy swelling. If you have ever been stung by an insect or developed an itchy red lump after a mosquito bite, you will be familiar with the effects of histamine. Histamine widens the joins between the cells which line your smallest blood vessels, known as your capillaries. This makes them leak both water and protein into your “tissue spaces” – the area surrounding the cells of tissues such as flesh, organs and intestines. If the protein cannot be removed from your tissue spaces, it will stay there, attracting water.

Poor digestion and taking antibiotics can cause changes in your intestines which lead to a lot of histamine being produced in this area. Sometimes eating yoghurt and probiotics can help to reduce this problem, but if it has been going on for some time these measures may not be effective on their own.

10. Interesting Point….which you need to know!
Drinking less fluid will not cure water retention. One of the causes of water retention is dehydration due to not drinking enough water.

3 Quick Solutions
Rid yourself of water retention by eliminating your bad habits. Become more active, reduce your salt intake and drink more water are the most basic steps anyone can take.

Many types of water retention will respond to dietary measures. The Waterfall Diet has been designed by British nutritionist Linda Lazarides to help release excess water weight as quickly as possible. It can also help to treat health problems associated with water retention, such as swollen legs, arthritis, high blood pressure and PMS.

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