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What Can Be Done About Water Retention And HRT?

Many women who are undergoing hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) will notice an increase in water retention as an unwelcome side-effect.

It’s important to understand that fluctuations on the scale may very well be due to increased water weight retention, and not necessarily gains in body fat.

This is one of the reasons why I encourage women who are on HRT to consult with a fitness professional or health practicioner who can accurately assess their body fat percentage and lean body mass on a regular basis. This will help to provide some clarity on the source of weight gain or loss that the bathroom scale simply can’t.

In today’s post I’ll be discussing what can be triggering the water retention, including causes other than hormonal fluctuations, and then provide you with some tips on reducing it.

More after the jump…

From a hormonal standpoint water retention related to HRT primarily has to do with fluctuations occurring with estrogens and testosterone. If you’re noticing significant water weight retention while on HRT, step number one would be to consult with your physician and get some lab work done to assess your levels.

A lot of times there just simply may need to be an adjustment made in your dosages. Let’s assume for the purpose of this discussion that your lab work is fine and your physician informs you that everything is good.

What then can be done about reducing some of the water retention?

There’s the obvious with taking an over-the-counter water pill or diuretic, but I wouldn’t start here first. That may be fine for a short period of time, but long term use could open up the doors to other health problems. I’m more of a proponent of looking at holistic solutions and using more natural approaches towards reducing water retention.

The skinny on sodium and water retention…

If you’ve already researched some articles and forums on the internet about this subject, you’ve undoubtedly come across a lot of suggestions relating to reducing your sodium intake. While you certainly don’t want to be consuming a lot of processed and refined foods which are high in sodium, I wouldn’t get overly hung up on trying to eliminate all salt from your diet.

Sodium in your diet obviously isn’t necessarily bad as it plays a very valuable role in several body functions. Yes, you want to be avoiding excess sodium, but equally important is focusing on having balance with all your electrolytes. Potassium and magnesium for example work to balance out sodium which is one of the main reasons why you want to be consuming leafy greens, vegetables, and fruits.

Taking a holistic approach to reducing water retention

The reality is there are several factors that can contribute to water retention that extend beyond sodium intake and hormonal levels. Achieving balance is always the ultimate objective. Instead of zeroing in on one potential culprit, I recommend addressing several components of inter-cellular and extra-cellular water retention.

GI tract health and lymph flow are prime examples of overlooked areas related to water retention. Also included would be the health and function of the adrenal glands, thyroid, kidneys, and liver. While there may be dysfunction in any of these areas that would require medical intervention, there are some natural approaches you could consider experimenting with first.

Here are a few strategies for consideration. As always it’s a good idea to consult with your physician before using herbal diuretics, especially if you’re on any medications.

#1. Drink cranberry juice

Cranberries are a natural diuretic and contain bioflavonoids which are beneficial for liver and kidney function. Just try to get all-natural cranberry juice if you’re going to experiment with this strategy as most store bought juices contain added sugar or artificial sweeteners.

#2. Eat more pineapple

Of all the fruits, pineapple is the top choice for working to reduce water retention. Melons can also be helpful, but I tend to recommend consuming melons in moderation due to the high sugar content. Pineapples are high in fiber which is an added benefit in the big picture.

#3. Start juicing fresh fruits and vegetables

If I was ranking this list in order, juicing would be my number one. Buying a juicer, my personal favorite is the Breville juicer, and doing fresh green/fruit juices on a daily basis is perhaps one of the best things you can do not only for reducing water retention, but also for your health in general.

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I could go on and on about the benefits of juicing, but let me just cut to the chase. There are some specific plant sources which would be most beneficial as related to water retention. Look to include any of the following in your juices:

- lemons
- dandelion greens
- parsley
- cilantro
- ginger root
- leafy greens
- celery

All of the above have properties which make them beneficial for helping to reduce excess water retention.

#4. Add fresh lemon slices to your water

Lemon juice is extremely beneficial for several reasons. Not only does it have potent antibacterial properties which can help digestive health, it also improves kidney function, helps to stimulate the liver to produce bile, and works to establish an alkaline state in your body. I would look to add lemon (without the rind) to your green/fruit juices, and also to your water.

They make these great “fruit infusion” water pitchers now where you can add pieces of fresh fruit to a center tube that runs down the middle of the pitcher. I have one at the house and love it. It’s a great way to not only add flavor to your water, but also to get some of the natural antioxidants and bioflavonoids.

#5. Drink chamomile teas

Chamomile is great for digestive system health and also works as a natural diuretic. This is an excellent choice as an alternative to that glass of wine before bed.

#6. Increase fiber consumption

Want to remove more fluid from your body, consume more high fiber foods. Soluble fiber keeps your digestive tract healthy, works to sweep out metabolic waste and toxins, and absorbs water like a sponge. Another reason to eat more high fiber vegetables and greens. You may also want to consider a high quality fiber supplement drink. My personal favorite is the Advocare Fiber Drink.

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#7. Eliminate wheat and products containing wheat gluten

You’ve undoubtedly heard of this recommendation before, but I would definitely look to experiment with pulling wheat and wheat gluten from the diet if excess water retention is an issue. I’ve seen cases where water weight went down dramatically in a few short weeks just by removing wheat products from the diet.

I’d also look at other possible food allergens/irritants such as dairy products, peanuts, etc. A leading contributor to bloating and excess water retention as you may know is tied into digestive system imbalances. Take a holistic approach by cutting out excess sugars, eliminating possible allergens, taking probiotics, bumping up the dietary fiber, and adding more greens and vegetables to your diet.

#8. Perform exercises which help promote lymph flow

Regular exercise in general is certainly part of the equation, but did you know that there are some specific exercises you could be doing to help stimulate lymph flow?

Running in place, jumping, or doing exercises on a min-trampoline or also called a “rebounder” is one such way. This is something you’ll see a lot of naturopathic physicians and health experts recommending.

The reason is it’s safe for most all individuals due to the non-impact nature, but specifically the rebounding helps to promote flow through the lymphatic system.

My personal favorite for a rebounder or mini-tramp is the Urban Rebounder workout system. This particular system folds up for convenience with home use and includes six different workouts. It’s also very well constructed with up to 300 lbs capacity.

There are certainly cheaper models out there, but you get what you pay for. If you’re serious about getting a rebounder and doing regular workouts I’d at least look at this system.

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The lymph system doesn’t get addressed nearly enough in the realm of water retention. A sluggish lymph system goes hand in hand with excess fluid retention. Think of it as your body’s filtration system. The lymphatic system has multiple interrelated functions including the following:

- removing fluid from tissues
- absorbing and transporting fatty acids and fats as chyle from the digestive system

All exercise is helpful in promoting lymphatic system health, but if excess water retention is an issue it might be worth trying some rebounding on a mini-tramp, or another option if joint issues aren’t a problem, is to do some good old fashioned jump rope. If you have a hard time doing certain exercises due to joint pain visit Urban Naturale and check out there natural joint supplements.

#9. Herbal diuretic alternatives

While this wouldn’t be first on my list of things to experiment with, it’s something you could discuss with your physician. I’m not recommending any of the following, but will share with you that the below mentioned herbs have diuretic properties.

- Uva Ursi Extract
- Dandelion Root
- Goldenrod
- Juniper
- Bladderwrack

#10. Drink more water

While it may sound counter-intuitive to drink more water when your body is retaining excess water, this could very well be just what the doctor ordered. Look to consume a minimum of 64 ounces of water per day, preferably more. By drinking more water you’ll help to rid your body of metabolic waste and toxins, along with improving lymphatic system function.

Just don’t try to down really large quantities of water as this won’t be good either. Stay sufficiently hydrated and consume plenty of natural foods containing fiber and water and you’ll be on point.

Bottom line…

While there’s likely no single shot solution for minimizing water retention for women on HRT, there are certainly some steps that can be taken to help lessen the impact. If you’ve found success with any of the suggestions I’ve provided in this post (or others I didn’t mention) please feel free to provide your comments below. You may just wind up helping someone else by doing so.

Shane Doll CPT, CSCS  is a certified personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts Fitness Training Studios. If you’re looking for a personal trainer in Charleston, you can receive a no-obligations personal training trial and consultation without risking a dime. Over 1000 Charleston area residents have transformed their bodies following his unique burst training workouts and simplified nutrition programs. Experience the Shaping Concepts difference today.

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Category: Hormones & Health.