We can all experience the uncomfortable and rather unattractive effects of water retention at some point in our lives, causing puffy feet or ankles and abdominal bloating.
Some people experience water retention more frequently than others as a result of lifestyle, diet or a genetic predisposition. Unfortunately, we women are more prone to suffer from fluid retention and bloating as a result of normal changes in hormones, particularly during our menstrual cycle or around menopause.
Water retention and hormones:
- The hormone fluctuations that occur during the menopause are often associated with weight gain and a slowing down of the digestive system, which all contribute to abdominal bloating.
- A reduction in progesterone slows the digestive process, and the fall in levels of oestrogen in the body causes more fat to be distributed in the abdominal region in particular. Factor in some water retention on top of all this, and you have a recipe for an uncomfortably enlarged tummy!
- It is normal to experience some bloating before and during the menopause, However, if symptoms persist, or you experience pain or persistent discomfort, you should always see a doctor to rule out any potential health problems.
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and staying active are the best ways to better enable your body and mind to cope with some of the potentially uncomfortable symptoms of the menopause.
Some tips for helping to relieve water retention and stay well throughout the menopause:
- Eat a well-balanced, high-fibre diet– A healthy diet is essential to good health and wellbeing, no matter what your age or stage in life. Fatty foods and dairy products are difficult to digest, so if you are menopausal, it is particularly important to limit the quantity you eat in any one sitting to minimize the impact they have on your digestion. Plenty of fruit, vegetables and foods high fibre will optimize the functioning of your digestive system.
- Drink plenty of water- Dehydration can cause and will worsen fluid retention. Make sure you drink plenty of water to support the body’s processes including digestion and the flushing out of waste fluid through urine. Drinking plenty of fluid will also help cool you down if you suffer from ‘hot flushes’.
- Exercise regularly– Regular, moderate exercise releases endorphins which have a positive effect on your mood, helping you to feel better during your menopause. Of course, exercise is very important for physical health too, helping the body to function at its optimum level.
- Take care when traveling– Long periods of sitting can cause swelling in the abdomen, ankles and legs and is a particular problem on flights where changes in pressure can add to the problem. Make sure you take regular breaks when driving long distances and if you are flying long-haul, use the space available to stretch your legs.