At this time of year, due to the heat, we tend to retain more water.
Water retention, also known as fluid retention or “edema”, refers to an excessive build up of fluid in the circulatory system, body tissues or cavities in the body.
Especially in the summer, our bodies retain fluid to adjust to the higher temperatures and to keep cool. In a very hot environment, you need to drink more water. However, our body distributes it to our extremities, reducing urinary frequency and increasing the “bloated” feeling.
There are, however, more factors that can contribute to this problem, such as sun exposure, hormonal changes, heredity, hypothyroidism, kidney disease, heart failure and circulatory problems, as well as constipation which stimulates increased water re-absorption of the colon, thus leading to the central bloating.
In the average adult, total body water is equal to 50%-60% of body weight: 60% in men and 50% in women due to the extra body fat, which is water free. Our body knows how to keep the balance of this water.
When there are imbalances in the body, one of the ways it has to react is to accumulate water in certain areas, usually in the legs, ankles, hands, feet and abdomen, causing edema. To minimise fluid retention, some precautions must be taken. Contrary to what most people tend to think, you should drink plenty of water and sugar-free infusions and teas during the day (an adult woman should drink 1.5 litres of liquid daily and a man 1.9 litres).
Foods rich in water and potassium (a mineral that stimulates the elimination of body water), such as vegetables and fruit, frequent physical activity, lymphatic drainage and diuretic teas can help those who have difficulty getting rid of body fluids. Also, reduce the consumption of salt and replace it with aromatic herbs and avoid ready-made meals and fast food which contain much of the salt we eat.
In this article you will find some suggestions to encourage you to drink more water and help to excrete it, thus preventing fluid retention.
There are various foods that are diuretic, which means they stimulate the production of urine. These are just a few examples of plants, vegetables and fruit that are diuretic, mainly due to their high potassium content, water and flavonoids.
|| Combinations of diuretic infusions
Suggestion: Cut ingredients into small pieces and soak in cold water the night before, store in the refrigerator and drink cold the next day.
1. Watermelon and cucumber
2. Pineapple and mint
Coconut water (sugar free)
Fresh pineapple slices
3. Aubergin and ginger
4. Beetroot and blueberries
5. Celery and parsley
Many other combinations can be made. Use your imagination and adjust the proportions to your liking. If you wish, you can also use oats, seeds (e.g.: flax, chia, sunflower) and other vegetables (e.g.: carrot, spinach, pumpkin).
By taking these infusions you will notice a difference in urinary frequency and feel less swollen.
Soraia Santos is a nutritionist working at the Hospital Particular do Algarve.