Water retention and bloating are common complaints for women. Recently, I’ve had several members of our online community ask about water retention. There are of course the more common solutions. Yet, I’m including them here for those less familiar with water retention along with the potential causes and solutions. There can be an underlying condition. If you’ve made the lifestyle changes included here and you can’t pinpoint a reason or contributing factors that would cause you to retain water, do check with your physician. Let’s look first at some non-medical causes of water retention and then consider lifestyle habits you can manipulate to decrease your likelihood of retaining.
Signs You Are Retaining WaterMost often you don’t need someone to tell you that you’re retaining water, you can feel it! You might however, attribute it to weight gain or fat. For busy women on the go who aren’t tuned in to their own signs and symptoms as much as they are to everyone else’s here’s a set of telltale signs of water retention:
- swings in the scale of more than the typical 1-3 pounds day-to-day.
- visible swelling in your hands and or ankles and feet.
- pushing on an area that looks “puffy,” your imprint remains rather than disappears immediately.
- visible sock marks or lines on your legs from elastic pants.
Potential Causes of Water Retention
- Not enough exercise. Break a sweat daily to lose water that way and also increase circulation that will help prevent retention in the first place.
- Too much sodium. Look at everything. Healthy and non-essential foods both can contain a lot of sodium.
- Travel. Tied to #4 below, yet in addition the pressure in the cabin of a plane or closed space can be a problem.
- Long periods of sitting and or standing. Your body needs to move in order to circulate and flush fluids out. Just driving in the car for hours to my home state, having exercised in the morning and after drinking hourly to stay hydrated, my ankles are somewhat swollen by the time I arrive.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) meds. Some are worse than others and each of us reacts differently.
- Nutrition: too few or too many carbohydrates, sugar, and pop each can cause water retention. Artificial sugars too are a culprit.
- Micronutrient deficiencies (particularly B’s and protein).
- Hormone fluctuation: around menstruation, pregnancy, and again during menopause.
- Hormone replacement therapy may contribute.
Water Retention Solutions
- Drink water consistently through the day. Drink early. Drink often.
- Drink apple cider vinegar or lemon water. A few teaspoons of apple cider vinegar will do it. Squeeze fresh lemon juice into your water throughout the day.
- Eat foods that are natural diuretics: artichokes, asparagus, beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, oats, watermelon, strawberries, cucumber, and green tea.
- Drink (limited) caffeinated beverages: coffee (black) or tea. (Pop is never a good idea).
- Bathe in Epsom salt and or alternately, apple cider vinegar
- Swimming can draw water out of your system.
- Remove anything that causes potential bloating or retention
- Reintroduce one at a time
- Identify a long-term way to eat infrequently those foods that cause retention, bloating, lethargy and 80-90% of the time eat foods that help you reduce these type of food intolerance/allergic reactions and make you feel best. Periodically, since your stressors, activity, and gut health change you can repeat the process to get back to a best-fit plan.