19 Jun What is fluid retention?
If you suffer from it, you know just how irritating fluid retention can be.
You’re all dressed up to go out but wait! – you can’t wear those lovely shoes that go with your outfit as your feet and ankles are puffy and you can’t get the straps done up. Or maybe you have two wardrobes: one for your ‘slim’ times of the month and a completely different set of clothes for when you need things that are a bit more forgiving around the waist or over your boobs.
If this sounds familiar, then there is a very high chance that you’re suffering from fluid retention, also known as ‘water weight’ or mild oedema.
What is fluid retention?
Put simply, it’s a build-up of fluid in the soft tissues of the body and happens when fluid ‘pools’ in susceptible areas, particularly the extremities – ankles, feet and fingers – and around the fatty tissues on the abdomen or breasts.
Around two-thirds of the water in our body is held in cells, with the balance in tissues outside the cells. This fluid is kept moving around the body in blood within veins and arteries and through the lymph system.
We get water retention when fluid builds up in soft tissues instead of being pushed around the body and flushed out as urine or sweat.
If your fluid retention is persistent or has come on suddenly, it’s important to see your doctor to make sure there are no underlying health conditions causing it as it could be a sign of heart or kidney problems.
However, if it is just an annoying problem, or you know it’s directly connected with your periods or hormonal fluctuations, then there are steps you can take to relieve it naturally and easily.
What causes fluid retention?
For most of us, water retention and puffiness are due to one of the following:
Women are particularly prone to the swelling that comes from fluid retention, especially just before our periods or during menopause. Progesterone levels fall, causing the digestive process to slow down. This makes it harder for the body to flush out unwanted toxins and means fluid can get trapped in the soft tissues. Added to this, we have a fall in oestrogen, causing more fat to settle around your tummy and waist in particular, making you feel all the more bloated and uncomfortable.
The minute the thermometer rises, your ankles puff up! This is because when we’re hot, blood is diverted to the skin surface to keep your organs cool. The downside of this is that circulation becomes sluggish elsewhere, which for some people can cause ‘pooling’ of fluid in your ankles and fingers in particular.
When you don’t move around very much, the system that pumps blood back up from your lower legs towards the heart doesn’t function as efficiently, causing fluid to collect around your feet and ankles.
How can you combat fluid retention?
The most important thing is to drink plenty of water. Lots of people stop drinking or cut back their fluid intake when they have water retention, but this is the worst thing you can do. You need fresh water to help regulate your body’s ‘fluid shift’ – the process whereby fluid moves from one area of your body to the other. You also need plenty of clear fluids to flush out those troublesome toxins from your body in your urine.
Shedding a few pounds will help to start alleviating fluid retention too, and you’ll probably find you naturally become more active even after a fairly small weight loss, helping to improve circulation and improve ‘fluid shift’.
It’s also a good idea to switch to a lower-salt diet if you are finding water retention a persistent problem.
Herbal remedy for fluid retention
If you want to harness the helping hand of nature, it is well worth trying a licensed herbal medicine containing Dandelion, ‘Taxacum Officianale’ in Latin, which has been used as a diuretic for centuries.
One study has found that people who took Dandelion saw a notable increase in how often they urinated in the 5-hour period after the first dose, demonstrating just how effective Dandelion is in flushing out surplus water from the body.
HRI Water Balance is a herbal remedy designed to relieve symptoms of water retention, based on traditional use. It contains the active ingredients Dandelion leaf and root, extracts of Uva-ursi leaf and Buchu leaf and is approved under the natural Traditional Herbal Registration scheme, showing that it is of high quality and safe.
Many women find that HRI Water Balance can be particularly useful around the time of their periods, in the early stages of menopause or to prepare for long periods of immobility such as on long flights.
By understanding more about what fluid retention is and taking simple, natural steps to relieve it, you should be able to wear your favourite shoes all summer and ditch those baggy clothes for good!