17 Jul How to stay hydrated and reduce water weight
If you suffer from water retention, you might well be tempted to cut down on how much water you drink, thinking that it might help reduce the bloating and puffiness of ‘water weight’.
In fact, nothing could be further from the truth!
Drink more to reduce water weight
Keeping the balance of fluid in your body is medically known as ‘osmoregulation’ and refers to the difference between the intake of fluid and excretion through sweating, breathing and going to the loo.
Having the right level of fluid in your system is vital for all sorts of essential processes from efficiently clearing toxins from your system to keeping your joints lubricated. Good hydration even helps you to concentrate.
Ensuring you maintain your water intake will help with:
- Getting rid of waste toxins – helping you feel energised
- Boosting your brain power and improving your ability to concentrate
- Carrying vital nutrients and oxygen around your body in your bloodstream
- Helping to regulate your temperature, especially in warm weather
- Keeping your joints lubricated so that the cartilage can act as a natural ‘shock absorber’
- Reducing annoying swelling and bloating caused by fluid retention
And the good news is that by drinking plenty of water to help your health, you will also make sure that you look your best too! Water plumps up the cells in your skin, making your complexion look younger and fresher and flushing out the toxins that can cause skin problems.
How to tell if you’re dehydrated
But how do you know if you are drinking enough water for good health?
The key clues that your body will give you that you may be dehydrated are:
You feel thirsty – thirst is an extreme signal from your neuroreceptors telling your body that you need more fluid urgently. You should always aim to drink before you become thirsty. You lose well over a litre of water per day through sweating, breathing and of course passing urine. When the weather is hot, when you exercise or if you are not 100% well, this figure goes up.
You struggle to concentrate – your brain is around 77% water, so even a small loss of fluid can have a massive effect on how well you can think and concentrate. A study showed that people who drank a pint of water before tests could think 14% more quickly than those who were thirsty.
You have dark yellow pee! Urine carries toxins out of our bodies, so is a useful barometer of many areas of your health, particularly of whether you are sufficiently hydrated. If your water balance is correct, your urine should be very pale yellow and clear. If your urine looks dark yellow, or has an acrid smell, the chances are you have not drunk enough water and you are more likely to retain water weight.
Feeling tired or irritable – your blood carries oxygen around your body, so if you are even slightly dehydrated, you will have slightly less blood and your blood pressure will drop. This means that it can deliver less oxygen to your muscles and neurological system, making you feel fatigued and less able to cope with everyday strains and stresses.
A dry mouth – if your mouth feels dry, you are well on the way to being dehydrated, so your body will already be suffering from the effects of reduced fluid levels.
You feel hungry sooner than you should – when there is insufficient fluid in our system to help you digest food properly, your body sends out a signal for more nutrients, which your brain interprets and a need for food to fill a rumbling tum!
Bad breath – not only is this unpleasant for everyone around you, but this can also be a sign that your kidneys are struggling to cope due to lack of fluids.
You have a headache – got a pounding head? Feeling woozy? Headaches and dizziness can often be caused by dehydration: if your hydration levels drop, you will have fewer mineral salts such as sodium and potassium in your bloodstream, causing tiny blood vessels in your brain to expand, and giving you a headache or a feeling of dizziness or lightheadedness.
Constipation – you need water to keep everything moving. If you are suffering, it is worth drinking plenty of water mixed with some prune juice to get things going again.
You’re getting muscle cramp – you need adequate hydration to maintain a balance of electrolytes. Without plenty of fluids in your body, levels can become disturbed and muscles go into spasm, causing painful cramp.
Your skin looks dry and lacks elasticity – water keeps the cells in the skin hydrated, giving your skin more ‘bounce’ no matter what your age. If you pinch your skin, it should ‘ping’ back fairly quickly. If it doesn’t, it could well be a sign that you are starting to lose your natural water balance and become dehydrated.
You’re not sweating much (even though it’s boiling!) – sweating is your body’s natural way of cooling down. If it’s hot, but you’re not sweating, it could be because you don’t have enough reserves of fluids for your body to use sweating to help control temperature.
You feel bloated and puffy – if your body doesn’t have enough fluid it will conserve it, causing uncomfortable extra ‘water weight’ around the tummy, ankles and fingers.
How to Make Sure Your Stay Adequately Hydrated AND Get Rid of Water Retention
There is a range of steps you can take to maintain a good balance of fluid in your body and support effective osmoregulation, whilst reducing water weight:
Drink at least 6-8 glasses (1.2 litres) of clear fluids such as still or sparkling water, herbal or Ginseng tea. Put a jug of tap water in the fridge with a few slices of lemon or cucumber for a refreshing and cost-effective pick me up.
Download an app onto your phone that reminds you to drink water at regular intervals.
Fill a 2-litre reusable bottle with flavoured water in the morning and watch your progress throughout the day – give yourself a reward if you reach the end of the day having finished the lot. You may need to top up if the day is particularly warm or you’re exercising.
Avoid fizzy and caffeinated drinks as these can be diuretic (cause you to produce more urine) and contain large quantities of sugar.
Drink one glass of water as soon as you wake up – to replenish fluid lost during the night and start your day off with a refreshing boost.
If you find that you suffer from bloating, and swelling caused by mild water retention, the first priority is to keep drinking fluids, but you may also like to try water retention tablets.
HRI Water Balance, a traditional herbal medicine, contains the natural diuretic, Dandelion root and leaf, as well as inflammation-busting Buchu Leaf and Uva-Ursi. You may discover that it can help your clothes and jewellery fit more comfortably and you lose water weight while staying healthily hydrated.
It is essential that when selecting any herbal medicine that you choose one marked with the Traditional Herbal Registration (THR) symbol to show that it has been approved by the national regulator as being safe and of high quality. Always read the patient information leaflet.
HRI Water Balance is available at Boots, Holland and Barrett, Tesco, Superdrug, Asda, Sainsburys and Morrisons.