Humans are composed primarily of water, ranging from 75% at birth to approximately 60% when we are adults. This flow is regulated by our body to maintain homeostasis in the different compartments of the body. In this article I will explain what it is and why fluid retention occurs as well as what the diet should be adapted to this situation .
We can break down the body fluid distribution into two categories:
- Intracellular fluid: It accounts for approximately 40% of total body weight. It is the liquid that makes up the cells of our body. The majority of chemical reactions take place in this space, therefore, it is best to maintain adequate osmolality.
- Extracellular fluid: Extracellular fluid comprises approximately 20% of total body weight, made up of plasma and interstitial space.
What is fluid retention?
Fluid retention consists of an increase in the volume of interstitial fluid, that is, an excess of fluid in the tissues.
This increase in fluid can lead to different situations such as sudden weight gain , increased abdominal girth, swelling in different areas of the body (ankles and legs being the most common but it can also occur to other areas such as the face or fingers), presence of fovea (depression that appears on the skin when pressing the firmament with the finger, remaining for a few seconds after removing it).
This excess fluid can be caused by different factors , below we will see the most common ones:
Excessive salt intake
A high consumption of salt produces an imbalance in the levels of sodium in the blood, which produces an increase in interstitial fluid producing that feeling of swelling. Therefore, it is advisable to prioritize buying in the market and cooking our dishes enhancing the flavors with aromatic herbs and spices, avoiding or reducing the consumption of processed foods, since they are very rich in salt.
Insufficient water intake
Although it seems contradictory, a state of dehydration can lead to an increase in this fluid retention. Therefore, it is important to maintain good hydration levels. We must remember that there are drinks such as coffee, tea and alcohol, which dehydrate us, therefore the drink par excellence should be water but we could also opt for other alternatives such as herbal teas and low-salt vegetable broths.
A different diet
A poorly varied diet can present a deficit in important nutrients such as potassium or magnesium. Also a low protein intake.
Being overweight or obese
By presenting an increase in body mass, we have more space to “accumulate this fluid”.
It is also worth mentioning that very low-calorie diets can lead to aggravation of the situation , since we may have insufficient protein nutrition and a deficit of this nutrient can hinder the excretion of water from the tissues.
Especially in the female group, different situations occur where there are very important hormonal changes such as menstruation, pregnancy or menopause.
Staying many hours standing or sitting in the same position
If you’ve ever been on a long-term plane trip, you’ve likely experienced leg swelling and heaviness if you haven’t followed a protocol of getting up and moving often. You have to get up and walk constantly to promote proper circulation.
Some medications can promote this accumulation of fluids such as some medications against blood pressure, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), estrogens, steroids, some antidepressants and some medications against type 2 diabetes.
Veins lose elasticity and consequently the force to push blood back from the extremities. The most common symptoms of poor circulation are spider veins , varicose veins, thrombosis …
Presence of some pathology
The presence of different pathologies such as heart failure, kidney failure, liver failure, the presence of a tumor, or thyroid disorder ( hyper or hypothyroidism), can lead to this imbalance in body fluids .
An excessive intake of salt and insufficient water, can promote fluid retention #centrojuliafarre Click To Tweet
Dietary guidelines to follow to reduce fluid retention
We can take different measures:
- Make sure that we are not making an excessive intake of salt, enhance the flavor with aromatic herbs and spices.
- Include vegetables in all meals.
- Promote whole grains and legumes.
- Stay well hydrated.
- Ensure a healthy weight.
That is, base our diet on fresh food and avoid a highly processed diet, since by reducing this type of products we will also be reducing the amount of salt that we include in our diet. Increasing the consumption of vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains will increase our consumption of potassium (K) and magnesium (Mg), which will favor the reduction of this possible retention.
There is a belief that certain foods, such as lettuce, enhance this fluid retention , but as we can see below it is a very widespread myth:
Remember that if you are in very hot environments or it is the summer season, we must ensure good hydration, since one of the main factors that make us retain more fluid is a low water intake.
Weekly menu with ideas against fluid retention
|Tomato, cucumber and basil salad.
Baked chicken with lemon.
|Brown rice with mushrooms and green asparagus, sautéed with cubes of tofu.||Lentil and rice salad.||Vegetable wok with quinoa and shrimp tails.||Spinach with potato and onion.
Grilled sole with garlic and parsley.
Anchovies in the oven.
Baked sweet potato and asparagus with thyme.
Baked dorada with potato.
|Green beans with potato.
Hamburger turkey with roasted pepper.
|Bean and hard-boiled egg salad.||Cream of zucchini.
Hummus with biscuits and crudités.
|Homemade pizza with roasted vegetables, mozzarella and tuna.||Vegetable broth without salt with pasta.
Other measures we can take to reduce symptoms:
• Moving and using the muscles in the affected body part can help pump excess fluid towards the heart.
• Keeping the affected body part elevated can help relieve symptoms.
• Wearing compression stockings can be a good approach if you have a tendency to accumulate this excess fluid in the extremities.
• Massaging the affected area can help move the excess fluid