Approximately 70% of the human body comprises water, present both inside and outside of the cells. Our organs, muscles and even bones have high water content. Water is the essence of our existence but sometimes our body holds on to too much of it. Such excessive fluid build-up in the body leads to water retention.
“Sudden swelling, puffiness or bloating of feet, ankles, hands, fingers and face can seem like weight gain. But, when no amount of dieting or exercise helps and the swelling persists with pain, it can be water retention,”
What is water retention?
Water retention or fluid retention (medically known as oedema) is defined as an excessive build-up of fluid in the circulatory system, body tissues or cavities in the body which can lead to swelling of the hands, feet, ankles and legs. Water retention or oedema can be triggered by a lot of different things.
Causes of water retention:
Water retention could be caused due to many reasons, some of the common ones include:
- Diet: Salt (sodium) rich food which mostly includes the processed food like meat, crackers, chips, canned vegetables, soups, fast food and even soft drinks can cause water retention.
- Malnutrition and poor diet: A diet that is low in protein can result in low levels of albumin, which can also lead to water retention.
- Physical inactivity: very long period of physical inactivity, also increase the chances of fluid retention in the body. Sitting or standing for too long can cause the tissue to hold water and cause swelling and pain in the affected areas. It is common after a long journey by car or on an aeroplane.
- Hormones: Women normally feel bloated or fluffy during the days when they have their menstruation cycle. Fluid retention, associated with hormone changes during the menstrual cycle, can cause breast tenderness, uncomfortable swelling in your hands and feet, abdominal bloating and weight gain. Certain kind of hormonal therapies can also cause water retention.
- Hot weather: During hot weathers, our body tends to be less efficient in removing fluid from the tissues.
- Chronic venous insufficiency: Weakened valves in the veins of the legs fail to efficiently return blood to the heart, resulting in pooling of blood which leads to varicose veins.
Water retention symptoms: The most common water retention symptoms are:
- Swelling of the affected body parts (feet, ankles and hands)
- Bloated stomach
- Pain in the affected body part
- Stiffness in the joints
- Unexplained fluctuations in weight
- A rapid weight gain over a few days or even weeks
Home remedies and dietary suggestions to prevent water retention:
- Have a low salt diet, as high intake of sodium in the salt can cause water retention
- Increase the magnesium intake in the diet. Good source include nuts, whole grains, dark chocolate, leafy and green vegetables
- Vitamin B6 intake should be increased. Foods rich in vitamin B6 are banana, potatoes, walnuts and meat
- Include potassium-rich food as they decrease the sodium levels in the body. Bananas and tomatoes are the rich sources of potassium
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid having refined carbs
- Avoid drinks like tea, coffee, alcohol and soda as they can cause dehydration
- Add cranberry juice to your diet
- Include fresh fruits and dairy products in your diet
- To improve circulation, try raising your legs several times in a day
- If the water retention is in lower limb then wearing supporting stockings is advisable
- Avoid sitting and standing still for too long, keep moving between work
- It is advisable to avoid extreme temperatures like hot baths or sauna