Water retention: What it is, what its causes, symptoms and how to prevent it?

Water retention

Water retention: What it is, what its causes, symptoms and how to prevent it?

Very common in women, water retention is a disorder caused mainly by incorrect nutrition and wrong habits. Let’s see what are the typical symptoms of water retention, what are the causes and some tips on what to eat and how to prevent it.

The water retention is a disorder characterized by the accumulation and stagnation of liquids in the spaces between one cell and the other that leads to an alteration of the communication and equilibrium between the lymphatic and venous system resulting in poor circulation blood.

This stagnation of liquids involves symptoms such as edema and swelling, particularly in the lower part of the body due to the force of gravity, therefore legs, thighs and buttocks. This compromise of the micro circulation can lead to the appearance of cellulite, that is, a skin imperfection characterized by orange peel skin. At the level of the face, it is manifested above all with the classic bags under the eyes, and can also be present at the level of the hands and at the abdominal level.

The tendency to retain liquids is typical of women and affects about 30% of the Italian female population. Women are most affected because of the frequent hormonal changes they undergo, for example with the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause.

Causes of water retention

The causes of water retention can be pathological, that is, it can depend on renal and cardiac dysfunctions, allergic reactions or serious inflammations. In the absence of such conditions, the basis of the disorder is often an incorrect lifestyle, namely:

  • Genetic and hormonal factors, the latter manifest themselves physiologically in the periods of the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause;
  • Alcohol consumption, which causes vasodilation and therefore a slowdown in circulation;
  • Unbalanced diet rich in salt, as sodium directly causes the accumulation of liquids in the intercellular spaces;
  • Some medications such as cortisone, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and birth control pills;
  • Sedentary lifestyle, one of the most frequent causes together with an excessive consumption of salt;
  • Smoking habit, as nicotine being a vasoconstrictor substance, hardens veins and arteries;
  • Finally, some diseases can cause water retention, especially kidney, liver or thyroid diseases.

Symptoms and signs of water retention

Among the most evident symptoms of water retention there is certainly swelling, edema and capillary fragility, with the appearance of capillaries and varicose veins. One of the most visible signs is cellulite, which with its various stages can even be painful.

Water retention diagnosis

The water retention, that is the body’s tendency to retain liquids, before being cured, like any other disorder, it should be diagnosed. Those who suspect of having a water retention problem should therefore first of all contact their doctor, who will evaluate the signs and symptoms (also through a tactile examination of the affected parts) and decide whether to proceed with diagnostic investigations.

Water retention, in fact, most of the time is caused by an incorrect diet and lifestyle; sometimes, however, it can be the symptom of a much more serious underlying pathology, such as heart or kidney problems.

The doctor’s intervention serves both to understand if you are actually facing a case of water retention, and to evaluate whether there are the conditions for considering a possible pathological cause.

Feeding tips: What to eat and what to avoid?

Against water retention, it is very important to eat the right way. The diet against water retention is rich in seasonal fruits and vegetables, in particular the one with a lot of vitamin C, which helps protect the blood capillaries.

It is also essential to increase the consumption of foods rich in potassium (dried figs, bananas, dehydrated apricots, avocados, kiwis, etc.), an essential element in the fight against water retention as it has a strong draining power and promotes the elimination of liquids in excess.

The fiber intake must be adequate, while the consumption of sweets, high-fat foods and foods that contain a lot of salt must be reduced. Furthermore, as we have seen, correct hydration is fundamental: you should drink plenty of it; the most recommended waters are oligo mineral or minimally mineralized. Instead, sugary and alcoholic drinks are to be banned. Coffee should be taken in moderation.

Prevention of water retention

If the wrong habits are the main culprits in most cases of water retention, prevention is implemented by adopting healthy habits:

  • Not smoking.
  • Don’t go overboard with alcohol consumption; a glass of wine or beer are occasionally allowed, even in the context of a healthy diet, but do not overdo it and, in any case, it would be advisable to reduce the consumption of spirits to zero.
  • Use shoes with the right heel, the ideal one is 4 or 5 centimeters high. High heels should be reserved for sporadic special occasions, and possibly used only when you don’t have to walk too much or stay a long time without moving; even low-level shoes are friends of correct circulation and, consequently, do not help against water retention; slippers and flip flops should therefore be reserved for the beach and then forgotten.
  • Follow a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, especially those with a high content of vitamin C , which promotes the health of the blood capillaries. The consumption of fiber also helps intestinal regularity and consequently prevents water retention, which is often associated with constipation.
  • Hydrate properly, drinking about two liters per day of natural water; in particular, mineral or minimally mineralized waters are indicated.
  • Keep body weight under control.
  • Above all, follow an active lifestyle. Sedentary lifestyle is the worst enemy of those who want to prevent water retention. You don’t need to join the gym if you don’t like the topic; just follow those habits of active life that allow the body to make the right movement: walking on foot often and for a long time, trying not to take the car when you have to travel a little way; walking stairs; carve out a small space to run or walk at a brisk pace, 20/30 minutes are enough two or three or times a week, constantly.

The possible consequences if left untreated

If neglected, water retention can lead to the presence of varicose veins and can favor the appearance of the last states of cellulite, that is, fibrous cellulite characterized by small nodules and sclerotic cellulite, in which instead the nodules are large and pain is felt touch.

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