Fluid retention, causes and treatment

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Do you try to lose weight and while you are on a diet, your scale shows the opposite? Many times the answer is simpler and yes, you may blame the fluid retention!


Why does fluid retention occur in the body?

Fluid retention refers to the condition where the body holds water and fluids among the tissues. It is also referred to as water retention or edema. The human body consists of 70% water. However, when the fluid concentration rises above the normal, then there are symptoms like swollen feet and ankles or even cellulite!

There are several reasons why fluid retention occurs in our bodies, many of which are not serious. Some women experience water retention during pregnancy or before menstruation. People who are physically inactive, such as when in bed or sitting for many hours, may also feel swollen. However, water retention may also be a symptom of several serious health conditions such as kidney disease or heart failure.


Causes of water retention

High salt intake

There are many reasons to keep your salt in check. Sodium is one of the most important trace elements involved in fluid balance in the body. Excessive sodium intake can lead to water retention and swelling.

Low protein intake

Insufficient protein intake can lead to accumulation of fluids in the body. This is due to the fact that protein plays an important role in maintaining the balance of fluid within the blood vessels (albumin) and in their movement of fluids from one tissue to another.

Physical inactivity

You may have noticed that if you spend the whole day standing or sitting for hours in a chair, you feel your feet swollen. If you are standing or sitting all day, it is important to take time to move around.

Hormonal changes

Especially for women, changes in the levels of certain hormones, such as oestradiol and progesterone, are often responsible for retention of fluid in the body. Premenstrual syndrome can cause weight gain and water retention in many women. Fortunately, these changes in weight are temporary and return to normal after the end of menstruation.

Cardiac insufficiency

When your heart does not effectively pump blood, then it causes fluid retention. Excess fluid as a result of heart failure can lead to weight changes and symptoms such as fatigue and dyspnoea.

Renal disease

The kidneys are like a system of filtration and elimination of unnecessary fluids and toxins from the body. When unable to work effectively due to kidney disease, swelling and weight gain due to fluid retention is caused.


Many different types of drugs can contribute to weight gain due to fluid retention, such as contraceptives, some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, some antidepressants, chemotherapy and some heart medicines.


Treatment of fluid retention

The treatment of fluid retention depends on the cause, at first place. In cases where retention is mild and there is no underlying health condition, you can reduce it with some simple tricks!

  • Eat less salt. Reduce the consumption of salt, as well as the consumption of processed foods. Consult the nutrition label in order to identify the hidden sodium in foods.
  • Increase potassium intake. Like sodium, potassium is another mineral involved in the body’s fluid balance. It reduces sodium concentration and increases urine output.
  • Increase magnesium intake. Magnesium is a very important metal element, which is involved in many enzymatic reactions. Increasing magnesium intake can help reduce water retention, especially in women with premenstrual symptoms.
  • Increase vitamin B6 intake. Vitamin B6 is involved in the formation of red blood cells and can help reduce water retention, especially in women with premenstrual syndrome.
  • Diuretic dietary supplements. Green coffee, green tea, and diuretic herbs (solidago, birch, nettle, parsley, dandelion) naturally restore fluid balance in the body and significantly reduce temporary fluid retention.

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