Excess cellular water retention is a benign disorder that affects women more than men.
This article explains the mechanisms of water exchange in the body and solutions to balance them.
What is water retention?
Small reminder(s) to understand the phenomenon:
- The body is made up of 65-70% water .
Water is essential for the functioning of our cells. It transports the other constituents of our body, it eliminates waste filtered by the kidneys, in the form of urine.
Water also participates in many chemical reactions in our metabolism.
- Water circulation in the body
Two thirds of the water is found inside the cells of the body (this is the intracellular fluid), the rest circulates outside (extracellular fluid), either in the blood vessels (plasma) or between the cells. (interstitial fluid).
In a normal situation, the water carried by the blood plasma passes through the walls of the capillaries to reach the cells.
Then, this water is reabsorbed by the venous and lymphatic capillaries.
These complex balances are mainly governed by the principle of osmosis but also by active regulatory mechanisms.
If there is an imbalance in fluid flow (water is not fully reabsorbed or too much water passes through the walls of the capillaries), there is an abnormal accumulation of water in the tissues: water retention which in its most acute form is edema.
Instead of remaining in the cells or in the body's venous and lymphatic capillaries, water migrates outside the cells, towards the tissues, and accumulates excessively there, causing swelling of the area(s). s) concerned more or less visible to the naked eye .
The causes of water retention imbalances
The causes of water retention are multiple and vary from one individual to another and can be cumulative in the same person.
The main causes are:
Heat can cause water retention.
By dilating the blood vessels, the heat makes them more porous and thus promotes the exit of water from the vessels and prevents its reabsorption from the tissues.
Staying in a sitting or standing position prevents proper venous return and thus promotes poor circulation of fluid flows in the body.
A diet high in salt and/or low in potassium (H3)
When we talk about water retention , we are generally talking about extracellular water retention in which the sodium/potassium ratio plays a main role. The more Sodium is predominant, the higher the risk of retention.
Water retention or rather the storage of water inside and outside our cells is mainly regulated by a balance between two minerals : sodium and potassium. It is an imbalance between these two electrolytes which is at the origin of the water retention mechanism.
In practice, sodium draws water out of cells while potassium draws it in.
Excess dietary salt is a common risk in our diet, it creates excess sodium which often disrupts the balance of water exchange.
Insufficient protein consumption
Insufficient protein consumption can also be the cause of water retention.
Proteins are the main constituents of cell membranes.
In the event of protein deficiencies, the cells retain water less well, which will tend to escape and accumulate outside them.
Whatever the diet, an intake of around 50 grams of protein per day is necessary for adults.
Dehydration is one of the main causes of water retention.
When the body lacks water, it protects itself by storing the little water available in order to continue to function properly.
Insufficient water consumption causes an increase in sodium concentration in the body.
By effect of osmotic regulation, this excess sodium will attract water outside the cells and lead to a phenomenon of interstitial water retention.
Water retention in case of pregnancy or hormonal imbalance
Pregnancy is one of the causes of water retention and the formation of edema.
The changes in the hormonal balance specific to this period (estrogens and progesterones) explain the changes in the way the body manages its aqueous balance.
The balance between estrogens and progesterone notably conditions capillary permeability (these are the thinnest blood vessels).
A hormonal imbalance can therefore lead to poor water retention . This phenomenon is therefore very present during pregnancy , but also before the arrival of menstruation, at menopause, and again, when taking an unsuitable pill.
Other known origins and/or conditions
Among these, we can cite:
- Excessive weight gain
- Certain medications and certain diseases, in particular corticosteroids, antihypertensives, neuroleptic treatments and hormonal treatments or pathologies of venous, renal or cardiac insufficiency
Symptoms of water retention
The first symptom of water retention is visible swelling , generally in the lower limbs (legs, ankles, etc.) but can also affect other regions. We sometimes observe swelling of the tissues causing watery cellulite.
Internal edema can resemble bloating (especially in the stomach when water retention affects the stomach, intestines, or even the liver).
On the face, a “chubby” or “puffy” appearance may be felt by the patient.
Due to its accumulation inside the body, water retention also most often results in weight gain.
How to combat water retention imbalances
Balance sodium and potassium
To reduce the phenomenon of water retention, we must first ensure that we consume sufficient potassium to balance the often very high sodium intake in contemporary diets (and reduce these as much as possible).
Food salt is not the only product that contains sodium, processed foods and prepared meals also contain significant quantities , such as sodium benzoate used as a preservative (and which also has a harmful effect on the intestinal flora!) .
Good food hygiene rules are the first step for a good balance:
- Few ready-made meals to control sodium intake
- Lots of vegetables (chard, spinach, potatoes, cabbage are rich in potassium). Potassium is very soluble: when cooking in water, it will recover a significant part of the Potassium.
- Food supplements with Potassium allow quick and easy rebalancing
Good hydration allows (almost paradoxically) to limit excess water retention. 1 to 1.5L of water per day is sufficient in normal situations.
Limit long sitting or static positions:
Physical activity, even at very moderate intensity (walking, cycling) promotes venous return .
At the office or in a sedentary situation, 5 minutes of activity per hour is highly recommended.
Have balanced protein intake:
Intakes that are too low in protein over fairly long periods are quite common among people looking to lose weight.
Remember that protein deficiency is never a good strategy in this case and that it also causes water retention problems.
Whatever the diet (omnivorous or plant-based), reasonable daily protein intakes must be ensured (approximately 50 grams for adults; more for growing young people, athletes, seniors).
If necessary, seek advice from a nutrition professional.
A quick return to normal
In the majority of cases the edema disappears quickly when the causes of the imbalances are corrected.
If the symptoms of water retention persist (more than a week), you should consult the doctor because pathological causes are possible.
The food supplement Magnesium + Potassium Argalys Essentiels to facilitate good balance against excessive water retention
Poor dietary balance, particularly low vegetable consumption, stress or significant water loss (sweating, physical exertion, diarrhea, etc.) can lead to insufficient magnesium or potassium.
In the everyday diet, sodium intake (e.g. table salt) is high and often difficult to control ('hidden' salt in prepared foods) and excess sodium acts directly on water retention.
Potassium helps counterbalance this effect.
The Magnesium + Potassium Argalys Essentiels formula is designed to restore the acid-base balance, essential for the proper functioning of the body.
The Argalys team