Is Fluid Retention Weighing You Down? Banish Bloating For Good
Maybe you suffer from fluid retention all year round and are sick of sporting swollen ankles.
Instead of stuffing yourself with medications for these ailments, try out our easy and natural solutions to rid yourself of fluid retention for good.
First Things First, What Causes Fluid Retention?
Fluid retention, also known as oedema is most common in women and exacerbated by heat and sitting or standing for long periods of time.
Fluid retention occurs when excess fluid accumulates in the extracellular space between tissues and is often localised to certain areas such as the lower legs, ankles, abdomen, face and hands – thats why you may feel like your wedding ring is shrinking on hot days!
A number of factors can cause fluid retention, including:
- Poor diet with high salt and refined carbohydrate intake, in addition to low protein intake and specific nutrient deficiencies.
- Dehydration – yes, you read that correctly.
- A sedentary lifestyle – physical inactivity weakens muscles responsible for maintaining venous circulation and contributes to lymphatic stagnation and weight gain which are other causes of oedema.
- Hormonal imbalance or hormone changes pre-menstrually and during pregnancy.
- Compromised lymphatic function. The lymphatic system is responsible for clearing excess fluid and cellular wastes from tissues, therefore fluid retention can occur as a result of a sluggish lymphatic system.
- Foods and environmental allergies can encourage fluid retention and lymphatic congestion. Common dietary allergens are wheat, dairy and soy products. Get tested for food intolerances through Emed to find out which foods you need to avoid for better health.
- Varicose veins and conditions of poor circulation can lead to fluid accumulation in the peripheries due to leakage of fluids out of veins and inefficient circulation of fluids and blood back towards the heart.
- Thyroid conditions can contribute to oedema, particularly under the eyes giving a puffy look. The thyroid gland is also involved in weight regulation and metabolism. To get your thyroid hormone levels tested now, click here.
- Medications such as the oral contraceptive pill, certain diabetes drugs, cardiovascular drugs and NSAIDs.
Fortunately, most of these factors can be addressed through diet, lifestyle and appropriate herbal and nutritional supplementation.
The Dangers of Diuretics
Using diuretic medications may help you reduce fluid retention in the short term, however it will cause you to become dehydrated over time, as you excrete more water than usual.
Many diuretics also increase your risk of risk of nutritional deficiencies, as you become depleted in electrolytes such as sodium and potassium.
Fight Fluid Retention Naturally
Increase your water intake – it may seem counterintuitive to treat fluid retention by drinking more, but water does not actually contribute to fluid retention.
Drinking sufficient water actually promotes healthy kidney function which in turn regulates fluid balance throughout the body and helps to flush our systems of excess salt and toxins.
As a general rule, your body requires 33ml of water per kilogram of body weight (plus more when exercising or sweating more in hot temperatures, etc).
Make sure you avoid caffeine containing teas, coffee and soft drinks as these beverages are dehydrating and don’t count towards your water intake.
Cut down on salt and sugars – these substances are commonly found in processed foods and meats and contribute to inflammation, weight gain and fluid retention.
If you need to use salt, use a natural, mineral rich salt such as Celtic sea salt or Himalayan crystal salt sparingly or use herbs and spices to flavour your food instead.
Salt (sodium) affects the way kidneys regulate fluid balance throughout the body by drawing water into the body. Potassium has an opposing action to sodium and assists with water excretion.
Therefore, increasing your intake of unprocessed foods naturally rich in potassium will assist with fluid balance. Try to include plenty of leafy green vegetables, especially parsley, celery and spinach in your diet and snack on bananas, apricots and citrus fruits.
Additional foods with kidney tonic and diuretic properties include asparagus, green beans, beetroots, onions, leeks, garlic, pineapples and grapes.
Nettle leaf and dandelion leaf tea are also excellent to sip on for oedema relief.
Exercise and Elevation – It is well known that regular exercise improves almost every aspect of health and wellbeing and fluid retention is no exception!
Exercise helps to reduce oedema by supporting optimal blood and lymphatic circulation, regulating body weight and encouraging elimination of excess fluid and salt through sweat and urine. Aim for at least 30 mins exercise daily.
Elevating your legs above the level of your heart periodically throughout the day is a must if you suffer from leg and ankle oedema. You can do this using a chair, couch or pillows as support, and is easiest when laying down.
Try for at least 30 minutes elevation 3-4 times daily to prevent pooling of blood and fluids leaving you with “cankles” at the end of the day.
Going for short walks and rotating your ankles every hour or two is also helpful if you are stuck at a desk for long periods.
If you are on your feet all day at work, try wearing compression or support stockings to reduce fluid buildup and treat yourself to a lymphatic drainage massage every few weeks to keep your lymphatic system working at its best.
Balance Your Nutrient Intake – B-vitamin deficiency, especially Vitamin B6, is associated with fluid retention, so we recommend trying an Activated B6 supplement to assist with excess fluid elimination, particularly if it is associated with pre-menstrual hormone changes.
Other nutrients involved in maintaining fluid balance, kidney function and healthy blood vessels are Vitamin C and Magnesium. These nutrients are water soluble and easily depleted by stress, sweating, drinking caffeine and alcohol so many people are facing deficiency and will require supplementation.
Anti-inflammatory nutrients such as Bromelain, Quercetin and Essential Fatty Acids also play a role in reducing lymphatic congestion and inflammatory damage to blood vessels and cellular membranes which are common causes of oedema.
If you suffer from any other inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, immune dysfunction or eczema/dermatitis, you will benefit from this extra anti-inflammatory support.
Diet wise, it is vital to eat adequate amounts of protein and avoid simple carbohydrates as carb-rich foods such as bread, pasta, pastries, cakes, cereals, etc. stimulate insulin release in the body which can cause fluid and salt retention.
To find out more about balancing your nutrient intake for better health, click here.
Herbal Helpers – Certain herbs can help to reduce oedema by supporting lymphatic cleansing, kidney function, cardiovascular and circulatory health and by exerting diuretic effects themselves.
Our top formulas include Traditional Herbs for Fluid Retention and Kidney Support which contains a number of anti-inflammatory nutrients and tonifying kidney herbs to promote water and electrolyte balance.
Detox Greens is a powdered alkalising herbal and nutritional formula which supports kidney, lymphatic and gut detoxification pathways. Alkalising the system also assists with the urinary clearance of toxins and reduces acidic conditions such as arthritis and gout.
Research shows that Hawthorn and CoEnzyme Q10 in Nutritional and Herbal Support for a Healthy Heart effectively support cardiovascular health and circulation in order to avoid blood and fluid pooling in limbs.
However if you suffer from varicose veins, haemorrhoids or veinous insufficiency, MediHerb’s Horsechestnut Complex may be more effective.
Book in to Speak to an Emed Integrative Medicine Practitioner today to find out more about which supplement options would best suit you!
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