We all get a little full and ‘fluidy’ sometimes, Dr. Nat Kringoudis talks through what could be causing it, and ways to eliminate it. Yes please.
“Feeling bloated or retaining fluid isn’t anybody’s ‘cup of tea’ (see what I did there?). It’s safe to say that nobody likes feeling puffy or struggling to do up the top button on their jeans, especially when you swear they fit yesterday. We’ve written about fluid retention before here, but I want to look at more specifically what your hormones might be up to when your puffy self is getting you down.
When hormones are the driving force behind your fluid retention, we need to look at the main offender – oestrogen. Excess oestrogen increases body fat. It leads to fluid retention as well as a host of other issues, including serious problems (if long-term), like cancer and more.
Oestrogen is the hormone that is in full swing during the first phase of your menstrual cycle – from the time your period begins, it starts to build right through to the middle of your cycle.
Progesterone is the hormone that increases during the ovulation phase – in a ‘perfect world’ this happens in the middle of your menstrual cycle. So oestrogen builds for 14 days and then drops, and progesterone then builds for 14 days and then drops, and this process is repeated for our reproductive years.
Notice I said ‘in a perfect world’…
Our world sadly, when it comes to our hormones, isn’t that perfect. And that’s ok, provided we know how to steer it back towards its best state. Progesterone not only supports healthy ovulation, it serves to counteract some of the nasty symptoms that result in excess oestrogen. It helps us to melt away fat as it uses it for energy (nice news!), it naturally helps with fluid retention (amen!) as it is a diuretic, and it assists in preventing breast cancer as well as endometrial cancer as it helps to balance out oestrogen.
So the clues in tackling our fluid retention lie in balancing oestrogen and progesterone. It can be said that whilst fluid retention may be a result of too much oestrogen, the best way to solve this is to ensure that your progesterone can do its job. Sounds simple enough, however it can prove to be a little tricky since excess oestrogen very often suppresses progesterone.
The key lies in taming your wild oestrogen so that progesterone can do its job and do it well.
Here are a few tips as to how you can better support healthy oestrogen alongside healthy progesterone each month. If you’re finding yourself fuller than a blowfish each month, get ready to try these on and see what works for you – remember we are all unique and sometimes life is all about trial and error.
Ditch the chemicals.
Chemicals found in almost all conventional body products, shampoos, cleaning products and alike contain chemicals that mimic oestrogen. This means they add to the already growing oestrogen ‘pile’ and your body does it’s best to cope. Good news for you is that there are now plenty of awesome more hormone-friendly products on the market. Phew.
Camellia Sinensis (green tea) is fantastic in regulating oestrogen levels, helping to rid the body of excess fluid. It helps to detoxify and cleanse the body, due to its antioxidant properties, and is also a mild diuretic. Found in both Man Tea and Anti-C Tea.
Not only is it not environmentally friendly, but the chemicals found in many common plastics may also be contributing to our imbalanced hormones. Avoid reusing plastic bottles, as well as heating in plastic containers. These chemicals easily leach into food – bad news for your hormones too.
Ease up baby.
I know I go on about it, but my number one oestrogen-driving offender is – STRESS. There are several reasons this happens. It stops you absorbing nutrients properly, it makes us churn through our reserves; and cortisol competes with progesterone to do its job, which means oestrogen keeps on climbing. Employing techniques to help keep your stress levels under control is tricky, but a must. Invest in regular, short intervals of exercise, breathing exercise like tai-chi, yoga or meditation and sleep for health – all are easy ways of keeping your oestrogen in check.
From a TCM viewpoint, stress impacts our spleen and stomach health and it stagnates the liver Qi, meaning we begin to feel wound up like a rubber band too. Acupuncture is also a wonderful way of helping your body to cope better with stress.
These techniques are not quick fixes, because there is no magic bullet to balancing hormones, but with a few small lifestyle changes and a new awareness of how your hormones really do run the show, you can choose better and begin new habits that will have your hormones feeling happy for years to come.