Feeling puffy, bloated and swollen more than usual? Water retention affects everyone from time to time – but some people find they struggle with it on a more regular basis. Whether you’re suffering from a puffy face when you wake each morning, feel stuck with persistent belly bloating or notice that your legs are swollen at certain times of the month, know that you’re not alone – and there are plenty of things you can do to find relief.
What is water retention, and why does it happen?
Our bodies are made up of 60% water – so it plays a major role in keeping us fit and healthy. Sometimes though our cells can hold on to more water than they should, leading to a swollen or bloated appearance.
Water retention can affect the whole body, or specific areas depending on the cause. Some of the most commonly affected areas include the stomach, feet, legs, hands and face.
The reasons behind occasional or recurring water retention can be different for everyone, as it can be the result of one or more influences on the body. Common causes include:
*Illness: Certain conditions can cause water retention while it is a symptom of others, such as allergies, liver and kidney disorders, heart disease and malnutrition
*Medication: Some types of medications can cause water retention as a side effect – such as gabapentin, birth control, steroids and diabetes treatment
*Hormones: Women in particular tend to experience water retention in response to fluctuating hormones, such as during pregnancy or within the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle
*Lifestyle: Not eating enough, eating too much or eating a poor diet without sufficient nutrients can lead to water retention over time. Particularly foods high in sodium (salt), in particular processed and fast foods. Sedentary lifestyles also contribute to higher levels of swelling and bloating – regular exercise and movement is key in order to combat water retention
*Stress: Acute periods of stress can have a short-term impact on health, whereas chronic stress can also influence triggers which affect levels of water in the body – such as hormones and appetite.
Noticing constant bloating or puffiness, especially around the feet and legs? Excess water retention (known as edema) isn’t usually a cause for concern in itself, but it could indicate underlying health issues such as cardiovascular disease. If you think you may be experiencing edema, speak to your medical practitioner as soon as possible to rule out any other possible causes.
3 ways to reduce water retention fast
When you’re struggling with water retention it’s natural to want to reduce symptoms as quickly as possible – but any remedy will take at least a day or so to take effect.
1/ Move more: Regular movement is one of the easiest ways to reduce water retention. During exercise sweat production increases, releasing water from the body. Water is also shifted to the muscles to decrease water from around the cells and reduce the appearance of puffiness, swelling and bloating. Adding a sauna session after physical activity can supercharge your results even further!
2/ Try helpful herbs and minerals: Consuming herbs and minerals can be a very efficient way to reduce water retention – but be sure to consult your doctor if you are taking any other medications and always exercise caution when purchasing and taking supplements of any kind. There are a number of different herbs which can have a diuretic and detoxifying effect – including dandelion, milk thistle, nettle and fennel. Meanwhile increasing your intake of key electrolytes magnesium and potassium can help to rebalance and shed excess water weight.
3/ Reduce stress: Stress can be a hidden influence behind many different health concerns and symptoms – including water retention. Being stressed may also influence your diet, causing you to crave salty or overly processed foods which can contribute to excessive amounts of water. Try different stress reduction techniques to see which ones work well for you, such as meditation, breathing exercises, reducing your workload or seeing a therapist.
Struggling with belly bloat? Try our Belly Fix blend, formulated with l-Glutamine and coconut MCTs to help reduce bloating and digestive discomfort.
Note: If your water retention persists, it’s important to seek professional medical support.