Fluid Retention… What’s More Important?
The body is made up of more water than not, the actual percentage being rather negotiable. Water is located in the brain, muscles, bones, and blood. Anywhere from 50%-70% is an accurate average of how much water the body contains at any given time; there are many factors that affect this percentage. For the sake of the next few minutes, let’s assume your organs are cushioned in a healthy amount of fluid and you’re well hydrated.
So, what exactly does water do for the body?
The chemical formula for water is H2O. This means there are two hydrogens and one oxygen in a water molecule. When water circulates, it transports oxygen to its destination. So, water supplies oxygen to the cells and tissues in the body. Oxygen is needed for cells to properly function and perform their varying duties. Without oxygen, they die and your organs suffer a great deal. In addition, the lungs require oxygen to breathe, and water supplies some of this oxygen.
The body functions properly at a temperature of 37°C/98.6°F. Water is able to regulate internal body temperature in response to external temperatures and body activities. If you begin to raise your body temperature through exercise, your body responds by producing sweat to regulate the change in temperature so you don’t overheat. Don’t’ forget to hydrate by drinking water before, during, and after exercising though. Lack of hydration leads to dehydration, and it becomes difficult for your body to regulate its temperature.
Water transports nutrients throughout the body for use by cells. It also helps with digestion by breaking down food so that the body can more easily absorb these nutrients. In addition, water softens the stool, preventing constipation.
Your body rids water not only through sweat but also through excretion by urinating. The body’s fluid volume is also regulated by the kidneys, an organ that filters and processes fluid to be eliminated. Urine can be concentrated to conserve water, or diluted to eliminate excess water. This ensures that there is a proper balance of water in the body.
What happens if there is too much water in your body?
An excess of water in the body is not necessarily a welcome problem to have. Water retention- also known as edema- is a result of too much fluid accumulating in the body. Edema presents as weight fluctuations and swelling in parts of the body such as:
If the body has trouble regulating water, then certain body processes are interrupted and cause problems with eliminating the excess fluids. There are many factors that may cause the body to retain water, such as:
- Not drinking enough water
- Diet high in sodium
- Drinking too much water (yes, this is a thing)
- Issues eliminating water
How Can You Reduce Fluid Retention?
1. Drink more water
Although it seems counterproductive, drinking more water allows the body to operate more effectively so that it doesn’t go into hibernation mode. Since the body’s goal is to remain balanced, drinking more water will trigger the body to release what it doesn’t need and also prevent the body from retaining what it thinks you won’t provide.
2. Reduce salty foods
Too much salt causes the body to hold on tightly to water. Keep within the recommended daily sodium intake limit of 2,300mg.
3. Exercise regularly or get moving
In order for our bodies to work properly, we have to MOVE. Even just a simple walk to get your blood flowing, bones working, and muscles moving can stimulate your body to keep circulating fluids properly.
4. Nettle, dandelion & hibiscus
These herbs act as diuretics and promote the elimination of excess fluid. They will help you pee more often, just as some medications do, minus the medication of course. You can find these herbs easiest to use in the form of tea.
5. Load up on potassium
Potassium helps to regulate fluid balance and water retention by flushing out sodium. So if you eat more potassium-rich foods and ensure you’re properly supplemented, extra fluid will be released a lot more easily and your body won’t hold on to these nutrients in fear of not getting enough.
6. Visit the doctor
If you notice a prolonged period of water retention and swelling in your body, it might be a sign you need to see a doctor. Certain diseases like heart failure and kidney disease can be an unfortunate cause of fluid retention and need immediate medical attention.
If you ever find yourself feeling a little heavy, evaluate your intake of fluids and ensure you’re hydrated. If any symptoms like swelling become a concern, reach out to your doctor to be sure those problems are addressed appropriately.