It can be quite frustrating to watch our weight fluctuate each month. There can be several reasons why the scales may change from day to day, and once we understand why this happens, we can begin to make sense of our unique bodies. Today, I want to talk about how to reduce fluid retention, and look at a few tips on adjusting what we can (and accepting what we can’t change).
There are several obvious causes of weight gain including hormone changes during our menstrual cycles, food intake, and the amount and type of exercise we perform. However, fluid retention is another common weight gain offender. It’s important to recognize that there are certain times our bodies will hold fluid—especially pre-menstrually. This is most likely due to the climb in progesterone right before the period arrives, and generally it subsides once menstruation begins.
We also typically hold onto water when our kidneys are struggling to do their job. But thankfully, there are a few handy hints to help beat the bloat and reduce fluid retention.
Up the Fluids
If you want to reduce fluid retention, first you need to drink plenty of water or clear fluids like tea. Believe it or not, the best way to move out fluid is to drink more. Chinese Medicine likes to use the analogy of the boat. When a boat gets stuck on dry land, it can’t go anywhere until the river or sea refills. Our bodies work the same way. When fluids get stuck or congealed, re-hydrating can help send the retention on its way. However, alcohol will increase fluid retention due to the load it places on the kidneys—of course our best recommendation here is to head straight to your cupboard for a cup of Hangover Tea!
Enlist a Helper
Specific herbal ingredients are famous for their ability to reduce fluid retention, not because they are magic (although some may argue) but because they work on the kidneys to assist in the excretion process. Ingredients like Dandelion, Lavender, and Hawthorn Berry are some of my favorites. These ingredients are found in many of the Your Tea blends including Anti-C Tea and Happy Tea—again two of my personal loves.
Sleep for Balance
The more tired we are, from a Chinese Medicine viewpoint, the more load we place on the kidneys and their ability to function well. Sleeping between the hours of 10pm – 6am will keep your body well rested and allow it to refresh itself. You’ll notice that if you commit to this at least 80% of the time, you will reduce water retention measurably.
Eat for Your Kidneys
Consider adding things into your diet that will increase your kidney energy. Foods like beans, pear, rice congee, and those with a high water content like cucumber, squash, choko, or similar. Avoid processed foods, foods that are high in salt (although including a little Himalayan salt in the diet can help), fried foods, potato chips, and soft drinks.
Your body will quickly adjust to the small changes you make, and you should see a noticeable difference in your fluid retention soon. There are some instances where we might see more fluid retention because our hormones, but in general, the tips above should help you reduce fluid retention in just a few short days.
Written by Dr. Nat Kringoudis TCM.