Although the human body is mostly made of water, it is not normal for people to gain weight because of excess water. This condition, in fact, is the result of an imbalance not only in water but in the important electrolytes and minerals (sodium, phosphorus, magnesium, etc.) that our body needs. This can also be a wake-up call for you that you may be developing a serious medical problem. Best evaluated and addressed by a healthcare specialist, water retention can be caused by one of these five major reasons:
1. Certain Medications
Some prescription medications cause water retention as a side effect. If you’re taking antidepressants, beta-blockers, blood pressure medication or over-the-counter NSAIDs, you may experience fluid retention and bloating. NSAIDs include aspirin and ibuprofen. If you believe your medication may be causing fluid retention, talk to your doctor about your prescription.
2. High Sodium Intake
The body needs sodium for several important functions, including regulating blood pressure and fluid levels in the body, but it only requires small amounts. If your diet is high in sodium, it can lead to water retention, bloating and weight gain. If you want to add some flavor to your food, try herbs and spices instead. Use garlic, cumin, oregano, sage or pepper to spice up your dish.
3. Heart Problems
A heart condition can cause fluid retention, most commonly in the legs, ankles, feet and the abdomen. Common symptoms of heart failure include fatigue, rapid heart rate, weakness, dizziness and shortness of breath. If you experience a combination of these symptoms, visit a health care professional.
More common in women than in men, hormonal imbalance is a common source of water retention, especially for women experiencing pregnancy, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and menopause. This is especially true for women receiving hormonal replacement therapy. Hormones affect how kidneys function, how much fluid the body retains, and how the body manipulates protein, electrolytes, and important enzymes. In pregnant women, for example, it tells the body to retain more fluids for the sake of the fetus.
5. An Inactive Lifestyle
Whether it is too much standing, sitting for long periods of time, lying down because of injury, sickness, pregnancy, or not having a very active lifestyle, lack of exercise is a major reason for water retention. When you exercise, you force the veins to carry back waste products and used-up blood to the heart, which, in turn, cleans that blood, with the aid of other organs. This aids in the secretion (much of it through the bladder) of excess fluids.
People who don’t exercise, on the other hand, often develop swollen limbs, over-burdened organs, and weight gain. Exercise is, in fact, one of your best defenses against water retention. If your job requires long periods of sitting, get up and take a walk whenever possible. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, and add 15-30 minutes of exercise to your day.