02 November 2010

A Word about Water RETENTION

I have been experiencing that bouncy bounce syndrome that we like to call "water retention".
Yeah I am still employing my tough love approach to getting things back in line, but the curious mind wants to learn more about wtf causes water retention.

So here it goes.
The technical/medical term for water retention is edema -
in simple terms a condition of swelling due to water leaking into cells and tissues from the bloodstream.
There are many medical causes for different types of edema that could potentially be tied to cardiac, kidney and vascular conditions.

What I am going to discuss is sodium-related water retention..
Your cells are filled and surrounded with water.
Around and within those cells, specific water percentages are controlled by chemical processes which involve sodium and potassium levels, hormones, and proper kidney function.
So bottom line, if you are taking in an excess amount of sodium the mechanism which expels water from your cells is impacted and that causes the cells to swell.

So how does this impact our bodies.
Well, the human body is sensitive, always trying to maintain homeostasis (meaning keeping everything in balance) at the cellular level.
Keep in mind that the average person is about 70% water by weight!
So, if you are 200 pounds, that means about 140 pounds of your body is made up of water.
Also, keep in mind also that the fat in your body is also composed of about 50% water.
So, you will often hear people, doctors, dietitians recommend that when you are trying to lose weight that you need to consume a large volume of water (8 glasses a day, although that number has been under debate)When you have ample water in your body, it helps those fat cells break apart more easily and flush out of your system.  The concept is additional volume of water will help with flushing the fat.

So now that we covered body composition, and the importance of water, lets look at the impact of high consumption of sodium on that very delicate balance in our bodies.
WE need to pay attention to the sodium content of foods and READ nutrition label.
The USDA recommends no more that 2,400 mg of sodium in a day.
Here is a challenge.. track your sodium content for two days and see how you measure against the 2400 mg.
It is not an easy task.
Check out this doc  to give you a hint of common food sodium content.
There is also some research that consuming foods rich in potassium and magnesium will help with battling water retention.
Researchers have also touted that exercise is a great way to battle edema.
The reason is because when you engage in physical activity your blood vessels expand and in turn, fluid is transferred from tissues into the kidneys. This water is eventually excreted from the body.
Again, the importance of exercise can not be overstated. 
Researchers have stated that simply walking thirty to forty minutes three days a week can make a difference in how your body processes sodium.

So if you are tending to hold a bit of water weight.. make a conscious decision to track that sodium and educate your self on just how much sodium is in that piece of cheese, lunch meat or can of soda... you will be surprised..


  1. I hear you!!!! I cut down on salt and lost 4 lbs in a week...I was frustrated by a slow moving scale and I figure I was just keeping the water weight on with the salt. Thanks for sharing...you are so right

  2. Jeez, no wonder then my stomach feels yuck - theres a lot of sodium in bbq chips which I have been eating by the bucketful.
    Great post... really informative and broken down in laymans terms for someone like me to read lol. Haha my verification was reparies.. we shall go forth and repair ourselves.

  3. But I don't like water or exercise.


    Thanks Barb, You keep motiviating me to get my butt in gear. :)
    Keep it coming!

  4. Wow, great lesson teach!

    My name is Joey, and I'm a salt addict. I'm also a hyper-taster, so that's common.

    I'm going to try to cut back. Honest.

  5. Thanks for all the great information. The more we know the better we can be!