Do you suffer from water retention?

Living in a hot climate and eating poorly can lead to the build-up of fluid in the body, which causes bloating, swelling and the appearance of weight

woman drinking water
By Caitlyn Davey

Water retention is the body’s storage of fluids within the circulatory system or body tissues. This can occur as part of the body’s reaction to hot weather, storing water in case of dehydration. An intake of salty food can also contribute to water retention and, for women, hormonal imbalances or changes have an impact too.

Water retention can also be indicative of kidney problems, vitamin deficiencies and post-operative strain. Nouvriet Boutros of NUYou Slimming Clinic says, ‘Water retention is also known by its more medical term, edema. This occurs when water leaks into the body tissues from the blood. In normal circumstances, the fluid is drained from the body tissues through the lymphatic system – a network of tubes throughout the body that removes waste and extraneous material, and empties it back into the bloodstream. ‘Water retention problems arise when fluid is not removed by the lymph system properly; it is retained in body tissues where it causes swelling (edema). It’s most common in the feet and legs, but it can occur in the hands, arms, thighs and abdominal cavity.’

There are many ways to reduce fluid build-up in the body, including spa treatments as well as home remedies, foods to eat and avoid. Often a water-retention treatment can help individuals feel slimmer as a reduction in size, bloating and diameter can be found post-drainage.

Nouvriet says, ‘It is very common for healthy people to experience day-to-day weight fluctuations due to water retention. While most people can retain up to five pounds of hidden water weight within the natural fluid that surrounds cells, known as extra-cellular fluid, those who are overweight or suffer from obesity may retain up to eight to ten pounds.’ Dry brushing
A simple at-home remedy for water retention is dry brushing. As the skin is the body’s largest organ, stimulating it can aid circulation, digestion and rejuvenation. Dry brushing means applying light pressure to the limbs and torso, and by stimulating the lymphatic system this can aid the body in flushing toxins and kick-starting a person’s metabolism each day. Simply begin dry-brushing in the morning before bathing, starting at the ankles and move in sweeping circular motions towards the heart.

Sweat it out
The body tends to store high amounts of sodium, the removal of which can be aided by sweating. It’s essential that water is consumed while sweating, but this process can minimise swelling and aid the body in flushing out sodium and water deposits. Using a sauna or steam room will reduce water retention – just be sure to keep drinking water to prevent dehydration.

Foods to eat and to avoid
Salted foods promote the body’s tendency to store water – the additional sodium within the system will contribute to the storing of fluid. Eating potassium-rich food such as bananas can help combat water retention, while potassium counteracts sodium in the body. Drinking more water can minimise water retention: If the body feels a threat of dehydration, it will store fluid and minimise the expulsion of fluids to last longer – so if you keep hydrated regularly, the body won’t feel the need to retain water. Vitamins such as vitamin B5, vitamin D and calcium also aid the body’s ability to excrete fluids.

Spa treatments
Many spas offer lymphatic drainage treatments, aiding in circulation and the reduction of water retention, as well as those that are anti-cellulite or weight-loss inducing. Anti-cellulite treatments aim to stimulate the body’s natural systems and often begin with the dry-brushing or exfoliation of the limbs to kick-start the blood flow, before the lower legs, stomach or arms are massaged to promote lymphatic drainage techniques.