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What are the causes of Water Retention

by June 11, 2016 Health

Water retention, or edema, is a common problem which causes puffiness, bloating, tenderness, weight gain, cellulite (a combination of fat and water) and swelling in the arms, hands, feet or legs. Our bodies are approximately 80% water. Water is necessary for the body’s a natural cleansing process. Oxygen-rich water passes from the capillaries (blood vessels) into surrounding tissues to nourish the cells and flush out any toxins.

Normally, the body can maintain the proper balance. Water retention occurs when there is a problem with this process. Too much water may leak from the capillaries or the water and toxins may not be able to get flushed, so it accumulates in the tissue spaces between cells. These tissues spaces then expand, allowing more and more water to accumulate.

With the rare exception of athletes who accidentally water-log themselves during prolonged strenuous activity, water retention is rarely caused by drinking too much water. In fact, most often it is the complete opposite. The most common factors of water retention are dehydration, histamine, hormones, medication and diet.

Dehydration: When most people think of dehydration, they envision the obvious signs such as parched lips and sunken eyes. Water retention due to dehydration seems like an oxymoron, however the body will store whatever it feels deprived of. This includes water.

The four most common dehydration culprits are:

1) Sodium, found in salt and processed meats, canned foods and packaged snacks

2) Coffee/tea

3) Alcohol

4) Ibuprofen

To ensure that the body flushes properly instead of storing excess water, drinking a minimum of 8 glasses of water daily is recommended.

Histamine: Anyone who has been stung by a bee or mosquito is familiar with the puffy swollen result of histamine. In reaction to food allergies, the body’s immune system produces histamine which makes the capillaries more permeable, allowing more fluid to pass into the tissues. Because water retention seems like such a mild reaction to an allergy, most people don’t know that they may have a food allergy. Food testing can help determine which foods may be causing a histamine reaction.

Hormones: Certain types of hormones react to sodium levels in the body and cause water retention. These hormones include insulin, cortisone, estrogen (oestrogen) and progesterone. Certain medication or painkillers can reduce the levels of these hormones. Please, consult your physician before starting any medication.

Medication: Certain medication can cause water retention, including steroids, antidepressants, hormone replacement medication, and some drugs used to lower blood pressure. Some natural or dietary remedies may help to combat water retention. Please consult a physician before stopping or switching medication.

Diet: Whether its a low calorie diet or simply poor eating habits, the foods we eat (or don’t eat) affect the body. Low calorie diets are designed to reduce protein intake which pulls excess fluid out of the tissues and causes swelling.

Salt, bad saturated fats and sugar cause water retention. Salt retains water in the body. Sugar molecules retain sodium (salt), and thus water. Bad saturated fats are found in fried foods, processed foods and canned vegetables.

Good saturated fats, found in healthy proteins such as egg yolks, dark meat poultry, organ meats, beef, veal and pork are important for the body. An increase in fibre and eating plenty of raw fruit and vegetables is a great start in the reduction of water retention.

Most types of water retention respond well to dietary changes. A few adjustments to diet may be all one needs to reduce or eliminate water retention.