Are you carrying a few extra pounds that just won't shift? It may not be fat after all; that 'spare tire' could actually be water. Water retention also shows up as puffy ankles or feet, and can fluctuate. So what can you do to get rid of it? Here are some ways you can try …
Salt is a major culprit for water retention, as well as being bad news for your blood pressure. Even if you don't add much salt to your meals, you could already be consuming quite a lot of hidden salt in prepared foods. We do need a little salt, but try reducing your intake and see if it makes a difference.
I've been thin all my life, but this year (I'm 46) have noticed a bit of a belly appearing. 'It must be middle-aged spread!' I thought. But could it actually be the amount of sugar I eat (which is actually quite a lot)? Too much sugar raises your insulin levels, which means more sodium (salt) in your body, which means more water …
This doesn't sound at all logical, does it? But drinking more water can actually help you shift excess fluid. If you're not drinking enough, your body will retain fluid to stop you getting dehydrated. So by drinking more water, you'll convince your body that it's got enough - and out goes the excess.
Some foods are natural diuretics (they make you pee more). So eat more foods that have a diuretic effect. Try parsley, ginger, garlic, melon, cranberry juice, cilantro, blackcurrants, lemon juice, and green tea.
Monitor your alcohol intake, and you might see a connection with your bloating. Alcohol can make you retain water; it's a diuretic, so your body hangs on to water to avoid dehydration. You're better off consuming foods that make you pee (see above), rather than alcohol.
Your body reacts to stress by storing fat and water, in case you need it later. So to help get rid of that water retention and spare tire, dedicate some time to relaxation and reducing your stress levels. Yoga, meditation, walking, chilling out - whatever you choose, it's so important to look after yourself.
Women often find that they are bloated during their period. Instead of reaching for chocolate to console yourself, try healthy fruits and vegetables instead. Even if you don't feel like it, try some moderate exercise; this will help deal with the excess fluid.
Oddly enough, dieting can also cause water retention. If you embark on a very low-calorie diet, your body can react by going into 'starvation mode' and hangs onto fat and water. Avoid crash diets, and if you need to lose weight try for just 1-2 pounds per week.
If you eat white bread, pasta and rice, try switching to whole grains. Refined sugars raises your blood sugar and therefore insulin levels. This leads you to retain sodium and water. Whole grains are a much healthier alternative, and will give you a slow release of energy rather than a sudden spike.
With a few simple changes to your diet, you should be able to shift some (if not all) of that pesky water weight!
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