Water Retention, Water Weight, & Salt


One of the most common causes of water retention is salt and I’ll admit it .. I am a salt fiend.

There isn’t one dish that I’m not reaching for the salt shaker and generously adding my favorite flavour enhancer.  I have slightly lower than normal blood pressure and a long time ago my doctor recommended upping my salt intake to increase my blood pressure and since then I’ve never given it a second thought. Lately tho, I have been wondering if I am retaining extra water in my body because of it.  I decided to venture on a 21 day reduced salt challenge to see if there might be any changes in my body composition.

Sodium is an essential nutrient and electrolyte in humans and is involved in fluid balance, blood pressure control, hydration, nerve impulses, muscle function, and pH balance.  It is important for the body to maintain a specific concentration of electrolytes at all times to enable these functions.

The recommended amount of sodium for an adult as recommended by the Canadian Food Guide is an intake of 1500 mg/day (.75 tsp) with an upper limit of 2300 mg/day (1 tsp).  It is said the average person is consuming 3400 mg/day.

Diets high in sodium can cause water retention and also other more negative consequences like kidney disease and elevated blood pressure – which leads to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.  High salt intake has also been linked with osteoporosis by causing increased calcium excretion in urine, thus weakening the bones.

When higher than normal levels of sodium are consumed the body works hard to maintain its optimal sodium/water balance.  To do this, your body will hold onto water to maintain the right ratio, thereby diluting the excess sodium.  Water retention can make us look puffy, feel bloated and change our total body weight.

To monitor your dietary intake of sodium it is advised to read food labels and avoid eating out too frequently (most restaurants use an astonishing amount of salt in their dishes).  Other cautionary items include: soup mixes, packaged foods, processed meats and cheeses, canned items and sauces. These choices typically have the highest sodium contents.  Instead try cooking at home with whole, fresh ingredients.

Other Causes of Water Retention

  • water retention can be a symptom of serious medical conditions such as heart, kidney, lung, thyroid or liver disease.  If you are having sudden or severe water retention please seek medical attention immediately.
  • pregnancy
  • premenstrual syndrome
  • high sugar consumption
  • medications, including NSAIDs, prednisone and oral contraceptives
  • allergies or food intolerance’s
  • stress
  • inadequate sleep
  • genetic factors
  • physical inactivity
  • abnormal levels of toxins in the body
  • congested lymphatic system
  • consuming too many refined carbohydrates (processed sugars and grains)
  • excessive exercise
  • alcohol
  • yo-yo dieting and long term low calorie diets
  • hot weather
  • high altitudes
  • dehydration
  • menopause

Remedies for Water Retention

  • reduce salt
  • drink more water (helps to flush out excess sodium)
  • reduce sugar (sugar equates an increase in insulin which decreases the body’s ability to flush excess sodium)
  • avoid dehydrating drinks like alcohol, coffee, black or green tea (caffeine dehydrates and when your body is dehydrated it will retain water)
  • have a BodyTalk session to balance and discover the root cause of the water retention
  • move your body (increases circulation and exercise causes perspiration -sweat out the extra water)
  • consume diuretic teas and drinks: fennel tea (1/2 tsp seeds:1 cup water), dandelion, parsley or nettle tea, lemon juice/tea, cranberry juice, apple cider vinegar (1-2 tsp in water), barley water (3 Tbs barley in a cup + cover with water, let soak overnight, strain and drink)
  • sauna/steam bath (sweat out excess water and toxins)
  • body wraps at the spa
  • eat foods that are naturally diuretic: garlic, celery, lettuce, beets, carrots, watermelon, onion, asparagus, tomato, eggplant, cucumber, artichokes, cabbage.
  • eat foods that are high in potassium: lentils, bananas, apricots, potatoes, raisins, beets, blackberries, peaches, grapefruit, strawberries, spinach, fresh mushrooms, avocados, bell peppers, acorn squash, apples, oranges, and raspberries (sodium and potassium are intrinsically linked; increasing potassium will decrease sodium in the body)
  • elevate your feet (if water retention is in your legs)
  • increase vitamin B6 in your diet: found in foods such as sunflower seeds, bananas, avocados, spinach,  prunes and brown rice.
If you feel you are retaining water weight -and not from a medical condition or medication, give some of these remedies a try or reduce your salt intake for a period of time like I did to determine if excess sodium is the culprit.
I hope you found this information helpful.
As always ….
Health Hugs!

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