Are you feeling puffy when you try to button your pants? That puffiness could mean you’re retaining water, a common problem, particularly among females. Sometimes water retention is directly related to hormonal fluctuations. Women commonly retain water right before their menstrual period or during pregnancy. But there are other reasons women hold on to water, and it’s possible to lose water weight and reduce fluid retention by making a few dietary and lifestyle changes.
Problem: Too Much Dietary Sodium Causes Water Retention
If you eat the typical American diet of fast food and convenience food, it could be contributing to excess water weight. These foods are typically loaded with sodium, and too much sodium causes the body to hold onto water. Read the nutritional data for your favorite fast foods, and you’ll be shocked at the amount of sodium they contain, sometimes almost a day’s worth.
Canned soups, lunch meats and even seemingly innocent packaged foods such as cottage cheese are often high in sodium. When you’re shopping for groceries, check the sodium content before dropping it in your cart, and limit the number of processed, packaged and fast foods you eat.
Problem: High-Carbohydrate Diets Contribute to Fluid Retention
Most people know that a high-sodium diet contributes to fluid retention, but fewer realize that eating too many high-carbohydrate foods can too. High-carbohydrate foods such as white rice, white bread, potatoes, and pastries cause insulin levels to spike, and insulin causes the body to retain sodium, which leads to water retention.
Replace processed carbohydrates with healthier carbs like whole fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables not only won’t spike insulin level, they’re also rich in potassium, a mineral that acts as a natural diuretic. Start each meal with a raw salad, and enjoy a piece of fresh fruit in lieu of pastries or packaged snack foods.
Problem: Too Much Stress Causes Water Retention
When you’re stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol, which causes water retention. Too little or poor quality sleep also increases cortisol in the body and contributes to fluid retention. Too much cortisol not only causes water weight gain, but it also contributes to abdominal obesity. Have you ever noticed how some people have thin legs but a larger belly and upper body? Chances are their cortisol levels are too high.
Get seven to eight hours of sleep a night. If you’re under stress, learn relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga to help lower your cortisol levels naturally. Take a walk outside each day, and take part in a regular exercise program.
Problem: Medications Cause Fluid Retention
Taking certain medications such as prednisone, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, antidepressants, some blood pressure medications, birth control pills, and hormone replacement therapy can all cause water retention.
If you’re retaining fluid, ask your doctor if there’s an alternative medication you can take that won’t cause you to hold onto water, but don’t discontinue prescribed medications without talking to your doctor first.
A Word of Warning
Water retention can sometimes be a sign of more serious health problems, so see a doctor if you suddenly start retaining water or notice that you’re distended or puffy. Otherwise, make these changes, and lose that excess water weight.