Beating Water Retention

Many women complain of mild to severe water retention during the summer months, during menstrual cycles, and during pregnancy.  (Wouldn't it be nice to have it where you could fill up your bra a little more if you wanted to?  Ah well.)  Regardless of gender, standing or sitting for too long can also cause water retention in the feet.  For many people getting rid of it is the question most heavily on their minds.

I used to experience extreme water retention in my feet during the summer months.  It was not only an unpleasant sight to see my swollen feet and kankles, but it hurt my skin.  I spent many summer days indoors with my embarrassing feet propped to relieve some of the discomfort. 

Since I have changed my diet, I no longer experience that.  However, I had a friend at work complain about having water retention so badly that it prevented her from breathing correctly as she had it in her chest.  Some locations where the water can form are life threatening when placing pressure on vital organs and restricting blood flow.  She made several trips to the emergency room and doctor visits which also seem to be exacerbated in the summer months. 

I began doing this research for my friend, but I also became interested in learning the reasons why my water retention episodes went away.  Did it have something to do with my dietary changes and how can I keep it away for good?

If you are reading this and you have a severe case of water retention that requires medical attention please seek a doctor.  I am not one.  I am just curious by nature and hope to document my amateur findings for my personal use since I tend to forget.  Feel free to use this as a means to ask your health physician or doctor to look into specific areas of your health that he or she may not have considered or you may not be aware of.

Sometimes water retention is categorized under the medical term edema (or oedema), which is the swelling of organs, skin, or other body parts.  The swelling is caused by excess fluid in the extracellular tissues.  D.J. Hennager from Kirkwood University explains the many ways edema can be caused.  Please watch both parts of his videos to understand this completely.

Part 1 of  the technical explanation

Part 2 of the technical explanation

Here are the most interesting preventative measures I found.

Lowering salt intake is a common technique to manage water retention as it also relates to blood pressure.  Check the back of the labels of any packaged food you purchase.  You never want to go above 600mg per serving.  And depending on your severity, you might want to lower that number more or just avoid eating prepackaged food.  Resist the urge to salt your food and use herbs for flavoring instead.  Train your taste buds to enjoy foods with less salt.

Diuretics force water out of the body through urination.  You can buy and over the counter water pill or get a prescription.  That will depend on how severely you need it.  Only a doctor can determine that.  Diuretics typically work on the general population but not for stubborn cases.  Diuretics include caffeine you’d find in coffee or tea, celery, onion, watermelon, asparagus, hawthorn berries, parsley, tomatoes, juniper berries, buchu leaf, and brussel sprouts.  Lemons were also cited for their detoxing effect.  It is important to consume lots of water while on diuretics.  It seems counter intuitive but it isn't.

Seek a nephrologist or renal physician to have your kidneys checked if you are uncertain that they could be the cause of water retention.  It’s best to have an answer from an expert.  In the meantime try not to damage them.  They can be damaged by excessive alcohol, dehydration, medications that are toxic to the kidneys such as ibuprofen (according to the National Kidney Foundation), and having chronic high blood pressure.  The kidneys can also be damaged by consuming excess meat and cheese which causes an acidic reaction.  Things reported to be good for the kidneys are kidney beans, cabbage, apples, berries and herbs like uva ursi and  parsley.  For many years cranberries were thought to help the kidneys, but there is some recent controversy over that.

Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
Once again, I suggest you see a doctor about any issues you may have with blood pressure.  Get a commercial blood pressure device to measure how you are doing on a daily basis.  Manage your sodium intake.   I personally use grapeseed extract to manage my blood pressure as was tested this summer to prove it was working for me.  Other rumored things to help regulate blood pressure health is yoga, edemame, l-taurine, garlic, and hibiscus.

Potassium actually helps the body manage salt intake which in turn helps blood pressure.  You can find potassium in bananas, potatoes, and tomatoes.

Wheat and Rice
Wheat and rice have a way of holding water in the body.  Be mindful of overindulgence and have a rounded dietary plan

Often, swelling can be a sign of infection.  You'll want to have your doctor inspect any suspicious swelling as soon as you detect it.

Most importantly, if you start to feel better by doing something that your doctor has recommended or that you decide to try on your own, don't stop.  It will and can come back.  This is something you'll have to manage on your own.  Good health is a lifelong commitment.

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