When excess fluids build up in the body it is called water retention, fluid retention or edema. Chances are you’ve experienced at least mild symptoms, but what causes fluid retention? There are a number of factors, but here are the most common causes:
Excessive sodium intake – The average sodium consumption per person in the US is about 4,000-5,000 mg of sodium compared to a recommended daily intake of 1,500-2,400 mg. Is it any wonder our kidneys have difficulties eliminating all that extra? Sodium aids in regulating fluids throughout the body and the kidneys control the amount of sodium in the blood by storing or eliminating it as needed. If consumption is too much for the kidneys to keep up with sodium builds up in the blood and tissues, drawing excess fluids with it. This is probably the most common of all fluid retention causes.
Inadequate exercise – The body needs exercise for many different reasons, including improving circulation and aiding in the flow of fluids through cells and tissues. Without enough exercise, fluids tend to pool in the extremities and even in the face and stomach area.
Allergies – Allergic reactions trigger the release of histamines and histamines will encourage water retention as the body strives to isolate and eliminate irritants. Did you know that overeating can cause something like an allergic reaction too? When the stomach is overloaded, particles of food are forced into the bloodstream, causing the body to retain even more water as it tries to rid itself of the contaminants.
Dehydration – If the body doesn’t have enough fluid coming in it can’t eliminate or properly circulate what it already has. Water serves a vital function in keeping the body clean by facilitating the flushing of toxins; insufficient amounts can cause severe damage including kidney failure.
Malnutrition – You can think you’re healthy overall and still have malnutrition-related problems. Deficiencies of certain key nutrients such as calcium, magnesium and certain vitamins and minerals can cause mild to severe bloating and fluid retention. Some of these deficiencies can easily be overcome by a change in diet, but others may require supplementation to effectively correct.
Disease – Serious water retention can be a symptom of a serious medical disorder such as thyroid disease, kidney disease, kidney failure and more. It’s always a good idea to consult a doctor to make sure the cause of your retention is environmental rather than medical in nature. Water retention isn’t just a comfort issue. Excess fluid in the body will make you weigh more, force your heart to work harder and is an indicator that something isn’t working right to flush potentially harmful toxins from your system. There are many causes, both environmental and dietary, but most of them are fairly easily restricted or eliminated. Diet changes take a lot of personal commitment to be effective and time to exercise isn’t always easy to come by, but they can make a significant difference in your overall health.