Water retention is the body’s tendency to retain fluids. The accumulation of fluids in intercellular spaces is mainly concentrated in some areas of the body such as the abdomen, face, hips, legs, feet and ankles, and is manifested through visible swelling of the affected areas. Hormones, medication, diets and lifestyle (smoking and alcohol) are among the main causes. A temporary stagnation of fluids should not be confused with persistent water retention, which may be a symptom of a serious condition such as kidney or heart failure, conditions which require medical attention.
When the swelling is mild and not persistent, though, there are some tricks to reduce excess water.
Here’s what you can do as regards your nutrition:
REDUCE SODIUM INTAKE
The most common recommendation is to reduce sodium intake, but there is conflicting evidence on this. Several studies have associated the increase in sodium intake with a higher accumulation of fluids, but other studies have not found any correlation between the two variables.
Sodium is contained in large quantities in processed foods – junk food, first and foremost – which are very likely to be the main culprits for the accumulation of liquids.
In addition to containing high levels of sodium, these foods are rich in sugars, which cause an enormous increase in the levels of insulin in the blood which, in turn, stimulates the reabsorption of sodium in the kidneys with a direct negative effect on blood pressure and microcirculation.
A useful recommendation is to eliminate junk food and follow an eating plan that also contains the minimum daily protein intake and does not entail an unbalanced consumption of sugar or carbohydrates.
INCREASE VITAMIN B6 INTAKE
Vitamin B6 can help reduce water retention and some symptoms related to premenstrual syndrome.
This vitamin helps maintain the balance between sodium and potassium, which regulate the body’s fluids and promote the normal functioning of the nervous and muscular systems. Symptoms such as depression, loss of libido and mood swings are causes that can sometimes be linked to a low intake of pyridoxine.
Among the foods rich in vitamin B6 you can find bananas, potatoes, walnuts, veal liver and anchovies.
INCREASE MAGNESIUM INTAKE
Magnesium is contained in over 300 enzyme reactions that maintain the body’s functioning. Increasing magnesium intake can help reduce water retention.
You can find magnesium in walnuts, brown rice, dried figs, dark chocolate and leafy greens. Magnesium can also be taken by means of food supplements: in this case, my advice is to choose magnesium glycinate supplements, as it holds greater intestinal tolerance and higher absorption.
INCREASE POTASSIUM INTAKE
Potassium seems to help reduce water retention in two ways, by decreasing sodium levels and stimulating diuresis, the benefits of which can be found on retention, and on blood pressure and circulation in general.
Bananas, potatoes, dried apricots, zucchini, avocados and tomatoes are just a few examples of foods with high potassium content.
Finally, it should be pointed out that considerable increases in body weight cannot be caused by water retention, and that drinking excessive amounts of water and eliminating sodium from your diet can be dangerous.
Using draining drinks can also be counterproductive, as most of these products contain added sugars that stimulate the insulin production increasing sodium retention, as mentioned earlier.
Aurelio De Giovanni