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    Fluid Retention

    Posted by: Mariana Rosa

    Fluid Retention

    What to know about Water Retention

    Fluid retention is also called oedema or water retention. It occurs when parts of the body swell due to a build-up of trapped fluid. The fluid gets trapped and makes the area swollen or puffy. Fluid retention is most common in your ankles and feet.

    The lymphatic system is a network of tubes throughout the body that drains this fluid (called lymph) from tissues and empties it back into the bloodstream. Fluid retention (oedema) occurs when the fluid isn’t removed from the tissues.

    Depending on the cause, you may be able to help relieve edema by making changes to your diet or by avoiding sitting for long periods of time throughout the day. If it’s caused by other health conditions, doctors may be able to help manage the condition.

    Symptoms of Fluid Retention

    The symptoms of fluid retention will depend on the area it affects. Common areas include the lower legs, the hands, the abdomen, and the chest.

    In the limbs, feet, and hands, symptoms include:

    • swelling
    • changes in skin colour
    • shiny or puffy skin
    • areas of skin that remain indented when pushed in with a finger, known as pitting edema
    • aches and tenderness in the limbs
    • stiffness in the joints
    • weight gain

    What causes fluid retention?

    There are many causes of fluid retention. Some people get fluid retention due to being sick from:

    • heart conditions, such as heart failure or cardiomyopathy
    • chronic lung disease
    • thyroid problems
    • malnutrition
    • kidney failure, cirrhosis of the liver or an underactive thyroid

    A number of factors can cause water retention. Some causes may be a sign of a severe health condition while others may not be serious.

    Ways to Reduce Fluid Retention

    Eat less salt

    Sodium binds to water in your body and helps maintain the balance of fluids inside and outside your cells.

    If you often eat foods that are high in salt, such as many packaged foods, your body may retain water. These foods are the biggest dietary source of sodium in most Western diets.

    The most common advice for reducing water retention is to decrease sodium intake. 

    Increase magnesium intake

    Some research suggests that increasing your magnesium intake may help reduce water retention.

    Good sources of magnesium include nuts, whole grains, and leafy green vegetables. It’s also available as a supplement.

    Get more vitamin B6

    Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a central role in:

    • red blood cell formation
    • protein metabolism
    • brain function
    • immune health

    It also regulates fluid balance and may help reduce water retention.

    Eat more potassium-rich foods

    Potassium serves several important functions, especially regarding heart health, muscle contractions, and nerve function.

    It’s also essential for maintaining blood volume and fluid balance to help decrease water retention. It works by counteracting the effects of sodium to prevent fluid build up and swelling, as well as by increasing urine production.

    Try dandelion

    Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) has long been used as a natural diuretic in folk medicine. It may help reduce water retention by increasing urine production.

    Additionally, dandelion may have antiviral, antifungal, and antioxidant benefits.

    Limit your refined carb intake

    Refined carb sources such as white bread and pasta are typically high in carbs or added sugar and low in fibre. As a result, consuming these foods may lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels.

    High insulin levels may cause more sodium retention by increasing sodium reabsorption in your kidneys. In turn, this may lead to more fluid volume in your body and increased water retention.

    Additionally, your liver and muscles store carbs as glycogen, a form of sugar that is bound to water. Each gram of glycogen is stored with at least 3 grams of water, so following a high carb diet could increase water retention.

    Fibre-rich whole grains, such as oats, brown rice, and whole wheat bread, are better food sources than refined carbohydrates.

    Other remedies to reduce water retention

    Certain natural remedies may also help reduce water retention by increasing urine production and decreasing inflammation. These might include drinking more water, increasing your physical activity, or consuming foods or supplements such as:

    • horsetail
    • parsley
    • hibiscus
    • fennel
    • corn silk
    • nettle

    Speak with a healthcare professional before adding supplements to your diet, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications.


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