Fluid Dynamics

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Water retention
bogs down many of us and is often a symptom of other health problems.
Water balance within our bodies depends on many factors.

Poor kidney
function will cause excess fluid to build up in the body. There
are many herbs that act as diuretics while also being nutritive
to the kidney and strengthening it over time. These include uva
ursi, dong quai, juniper berries, asparagus, burdock, dandelion
and more. There are many good herbal blends available at health
food stores.

Sodium/potassium
balance controls fluid balance in the body. Sodium governs the fluid
between the cells while potassium governs fluid within the cells.
Sodium in general attracts water and increases the amount of fluid
in our bloodstream and throughout our bodies. The increase in blood
volume from high sodium intake results in high blood pressure, which
explains why high blood pressure is sometimes treated with diuretics.

Potassium is
depleted by diuretics. When our mineral stores of potassium get
low, the body tends to hold onto this valuable mineral by retaining
water. A more natural solution in managing excess fluid would be
to decrease sodium intake and increase potassium intake. Supplementing
potassium helps, but since potassium and sodium compete with each
other for absorption, it is necessary to reduce sodium intake.

Histamine release
due to allergies also causes water retention. Eating foods that
you are sensitive to will cause water retention. The most common
food sensitivities are related to wheat (both refined and whole),
dairy, corn, citrus, sugar, soy, and food additives and/or preservatives.
Several successful weight loss methods involve eliminating reactive
foods resulting in loss of up to 10 pounds of water. If allergies
make you puffy and bloated, supplements that help are quercetin,
bromelain, and vitamin E.

Hormone balance
also affects water retention. Excess estrogen in relation to progesterone
tends to cause fluid retention. Excess estrogen is a problem common
today since estrogen is in commercial meat and since there are estrogen-mimicking
chemicals in our environment and in our food supply. Vitamin B6
helps to block the salt-retaining effect of estrogen and is a good
supplement to use cyclically for hormone-related bloating and/or
PMS.

Blood vessel
weakness (capillary fragility) allows fluids to leak out into the
tissues, resulting in water retention. Supplements that help strengthen
vein walls such as rutin and butchers broom will help with this
condition. Butchers broom is particularly effective if the fluid
retention is due to poor circulation.

Finally, diets
too low in protein or poor protein assimilation will contribute
to water retention. Increasing the amount and/or quality of the
protein in your diet along with adding digestive enzymes containing
betaine HCL will help the body fluids normalize.

An interesting
note about water retention: Traditional Chinese medicine links the
water element to emotions. Too much water or water retention is
related to depression.

Margaret
Durst owns The
Green House
, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason,
Texas.

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