There is nothing worse than that bloated, full and fat feeling you get when you are retaining fluid. It normally happens to me when I travel – especially to Mexico and an all-inclusive. The long flight down, sitting for hours, all the margaritas you can drink when you get there, the late nights and the heat.
In some women, the monthly rise in estrogen turns on the faucet for the hormone aldosterone. Aldosterone, in turn, causes the kidneys to retain fluids and the woman to suddenly gain a few water-filled pounds.
While PMS is the major cause of water retention in women, water retention for both men and women can also be related to kidney problems, both serious (kidney disease) and commonplace (not drinking enough water). Heart, liver, or thyroid malfunctions can also play a role in water retention. And, of course, eating too many salty foods can turn your body into a water-storage tank.
Some tips for when you get that horrible fat feeling is to drastically reduce your salt intake. Sodium increases fluid retention, so don't use the salt shaker. And if recipes call for salt, try adding more pepper or another spice instead. But, most importantly, cut down on processed foods and fast foods, all of which are overflowing with salt.
Go ape and grab a few bananas. Slice 'em on your cereal, make a smoothie, or just peel and eat them plain. Bananas contain high amounts of potassium, which helps eliminate fluid retention. Not a banana fan? Gobble down a handful of raisins instead. When ankles puff up, applying an ice pack can help bring them back to normal size. Place ice cubes in a plastic bag with a zipper seal, wrap a light towel around the bag, and apply for five to ten minutes. A bag of frozen veggies also works well. A natural diuretic, cabbage can be added to salads or sandwiches. Enjoy a side of coleslaw for lunch.
Another natural diuretic is cranberry juice. Too many rich treats will cause stomachs to bloat. If you've overindulged and are feeling the effects, treat your stomach to a cup of plain, low-fat yogurt that contains active cultures. The active cultures aid in digestion and increase the good bacteria in the gut. When you feel waterlogged, have a big glass of water; it flushes out the system better than anything else and can reduce premenstrual bloating. Drink 8 to 10 glasses a day; more when you exercise. If your water retention is caused by any other medical condition, be sure to ask your doctor before drinking extra water -- it may not be good for you. Also, increase your intake of vitamins A and C; both help diminish the fragility of capillaries and decrease water retention. Limit alcohol intake and try not to smoke. Stay away from junk food. Not only is it bad for you, but the excess salt tips the scales and try to eat 6 small meals a day, rather than 3 big ones.
Author: Kathryn Hartwell