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Water retention and cellulite

A few words about water retention…

Water accounts for 60% of the body’s weight. You find it in cells, blood, of which it is the main component, skin, organs and muscles.

In order to keep its fluid level constant, our body draws on a complex hormonal system that acts on the kidneys. Normally, when you drink more than you are accustomed to, the kidneys take charge of eliminating excess liquids and toxins.

However at times something in the system goes wrong, and the liquids start accumulating in our body tissues. Water retention is a deficiency in the drainage of lymphatic system. The system is unable to send the toxins and excess water into the circulation system, and therefore cannot drain oedema, or the swelling, as it should.

This natural phenomenon is essentially hormone-based and affects only women as the main hormones involved are estrogens (female hormones).

Is there a connection between water retention and cellulite?

If the body stores too much of the fat consumed, the fatty cells become abnormally large and constrict the blood and lymph vessels. This constriction impairs the drainage of water and toxins.

Water retention and the degeneration of collagen fibers, or skin tissue fibers, give the skin a padded aspect, called the orange peel effect. This phenomenon is particularly prevalent in certain areas of the body: notably, the thighs and buttocks.

What exactly is lymph?

Lymph is made up essentially of water, minerals, lipids, hormones, vitamins and proteins. It is as critical as blood in ensuring the good working order of the organism but it circulates far less rapidly: it takes a full day for lymph to travel around the body.

Lymph carries 75% of the waste matter rejected by our cells, and one of its main roles is healing wounds… If the lymph circulates badly, our vital functions are impaired and our body poisons itself. This leads to problems such as water retention, cellulite, tired, heavy-feeling legs, stretchmarks and swollen ankles.

The causes: there are many of them and it doesn’t take much!

  • Hormonal fluctuations (estrogens, aldosterone). During the pre-menstrual cycle, many women remark that their breasts and abdomen seem to retain water and feel painful and swollen.
  • An unbalanced diet.
  • Intolerance to certain types of food.
  • The side-effects of certain types of drugs (drugs for hypertension, corticoids, anti-inflammatory drugs).
  • Prolonged or frequent standing.
  • Heat (it dilates blood vessels).
  • A diet rich in salt…

The solutions…

Most of the time, these cases involve only moderate water retention  (from four to five kilos) and the effects hardly noticed…Or rather, the extra kilos are blamed on a few dietary excesses. So when people have a swollen belly, they tend to jump to the conclusion that body fat is the source of the problem.

To get your belly flat again, you have to seriously rethink your diet and make up your mind to do without certain everyday foods for two weeks, or even three if you’re brave enough, and do all you can to drain that excess water.

Foods to avoid and foods to favor…

Foods to avoid

  • Stimulants

Paradoxically, coffee, tea and alcohol are harmful because they are diuretic. In fact, dieuretics stimulate natural elimination but over the long-term the process can lead to dehydration. To compensate, the body retains water.

  • Sweets

Sugar, honey, jams, jellies, cakes and pastries abruptly raise the insulin levels in blood, which favors water retention. In addition, sugar and its derivatives appear to have a harmful effect on the kidneys.

  • Salt

There is a direct relationship between the quantity of salt absorbed and the quantity of water fixed in the tissues. Many foods naturally contain sodium. The problem lies in the salt you add yourself and the salt found in prepared foods. Avoid pork products such as sausages and pates, smoked fish, fermented cheese, canned and prepared foods. If you reduce your salt intake, you’ll quickly see the results on the scale.

  • Saturated fats

A diet too rich in animal fats (red meat, butter, cream) affects your kidney function and may cause inflammations and swelling on the level of the skin and joints because of its  high arachidonic acid content.

  • Bleached flour

All foods made with bleached flour (white bread, ordinary pasta) contain little in the way of magnesium and zinc. Lacking in B vitamins and fibers, they can lead to a sluggish digestive system and water retention.

  • Potential allergens

Wheat and wheat-based foods (bread, pasta, flours), milk products, eggs and yeast can all trigger allergic reactions that contribute to water retention. You should avoid them during the course of your diet, even though you can reintroduce them very gradually once you’ve gotten back to your ideal weight.

Foods to favor

  • Proteins

Foods rich in protein are ideal for an anti-water retention diet. When you eat enough protein, the liver produces albumin, which naturally slows down the water retention process. In addition, proteins are essential to synthesize thyroidian hormones, which stimulate the metabolism and facilitate weight loss. You can consume proteins in the form of white meat, farm-raised poultry, wild fish, dried and oil-producing vegetables.

  • Water

Plain water (or in the form of herbal teas, chicory or fruit juice) are essential to hydrate the body. If you are prone to water retention, you should not limit the amount of liquid you drink, quite the opposite. If you stop drinking liquids, you hinder the functioning of your kidneys, which will no longer be able to filter waste matter. Your body will then retain water to dissolve the toxic residue.

  • Green vegetables and fruit

They supply minerals and vitamins, essential for organic balance. The fibers prevent constipation, which can exacerbate water retention.

  • Vegetable oils and fish

live, walnut, rapeseed, soya and grapeseed oils, oil-producing foods (like almonds and avocados), and fatty fish provide the polyunsaturated fatty acids necessary for producing prostaglandins, which regulate organic liquids.

  • Whole grains

Except for wheat, which can produce an allergic reaction, all non-refined starches, such as whole rice, buckwheat, rye, etc., are excellent foods rich in magnesium, potassium, selenium, and anti-water retention minerals.

  • Soya and its derivatives

Tofu, soya or ewe milk and yoghurt are all healthy replacements for traditional dairy products.