Understand What Water Retention Is
Firstly, remember water retention is very common and usually nothing to worry about. The reason it occurs is because of the bodies inability to remove excess water from the tissues. This is due to capillaries, blood and lymph vessels developing defects over the years and thereby failing to remove all excess water from tissues. Other causes are pregnancy, constipation, hot weather, sitting or standing for long periods and even the contraceptive pill is well-known for causing some unwanted retention. As for food, sugar, saturated, trans and fried fats all contribute, as well as smoking which is known to make the situation worse, and harder to treat. There are also some medical causes including chronic heart failure, but the majority can be improved with simple lifestyle measures.
Take Hot & Cold Showers
It’s a simple trick, but alternating the water between hot and cold when you shower will cause dilation and contraction of the capillaries and blood vessels, in turn, boosting circulation and lymph drainage. Even a legs-only shower like this can massively help to relieve symptoms. Just be sure to finish with cold or neutral water over piping hot.
Invest In Some Cocoa
Yep, you read that right. High flavanol cocoa is proven to boost arterial function (there is even an approved EU health authority claim for that). These days you can find this cocoa powder in most health food stores and on the internet. Georgios’s go-to is Chococru, which is second to none and tastes delicious.
Add Swimming To Your Fitness Regime
The best exercise for water retention is actually swimming as it provides a valuable boost in circulation, without the problem of gravity. Walking, for example, may make water retention worse due to gravity, despite people advising it as a remedy.
Keep Your Legs Elevated
Where possible, keep your legs elevated as much as possible. So, if you’re working at a computer, pop them up on a stool or box. When you’re relaxing come the evening, keep your legs up on the sofa or propped up under pillows – especially in bed. This will help limit water retention in your extremities, even if only for half an hour or so.
Up Your Fruit Intake
Fruit is well-known for its high-levels of potassium and polyphenols – especially bananas, watermelons and peaches. All of these help to decrease sodium levels in the body and act as a diuretic. As for polyphenols, dark berries are a great source and will help to support your blood vessels, keeping everything moving.
Don’t Underestimate Supplements
Not to be overlooked, supplements have actually been proven to be as effective at reducing water retention as compression garments. Look to centella asiatica extract, horse chestnut extract and diosmin combined with hesperidin. These are widely used in France, Italy and Germany, with many prescribed by doctors as medicines. You’ll find them in the UK in your nearest health store like Wholefoods or online at destinations like Amazon and Bioeva UK.
Cut Salt Out
Instead of the common salt, use a low sodium, high potassium salt. Sodium retains water, whereas potassium is a diuretic, so you won’t be as affected. Look for high potassium salts that are usually 67% potassium with only 33% sodium – it will say on the packaging – to manage your intake. You should reduce your sugar intake too. It causes glycation and chronic, low-grade inflammation which can affect the function of healthy vessels.
Quit The Cigarettes
We don’t need to tell you that smoking and nicotine are known to have a negative effect on your overall health, blood vessels and circulation, so try and quit them, especially if you’re really suffering. It’s also worth bearing in mind that vaping has similar effects, so it’s not always a good alternative.
Treat Yourself To A Deep Massage (Or Give Yourself A DIY One)
Any decent massage will help ease water retention. All you need to have is lots of upward strokes mixed with some kneading from time to time, all performed with little oil. Manual lymphatic drainage is more specific and appropriate in cases that are more severe. Pressotherapy or alternate compression massage also works wonders for water retention and you can buy relatively economical home machines to use daily.
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