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Does Eating Rice Affect Water Retention?

By Bindu Vinod

Water retention or fluid retention is the swelling noticed in the hands, feet, ankles, legs, eyes or in any part of the body as a whole. Water retention can occur in the circulatory system or within the tissues and cavities. Women often experience some water retention during pregnancy or just before their menstrual cycle.

Water retention is often associated with certain uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating, feeling weighed down, sluggishness, etc. Water retention is often a factor that people sometimes live with, on a day-to-day basis.

Causes Of Water Retention:

• Several factors play a role in causing fluid retention, but the biggest culprit that can cause water retention and the one that can be easily controlled is 'food'. Sodium is one of the main constituents found in salt, and an essential nutrient that regulates fluid balance and blood pressure. However, sodium is required only in small quantities. When you consume too much of sodium, your body may hold on too much of water, causing fluid retention and weight gain. Though avoiding salt intake altogether is not an option, sodium consumption can be reduced or limited to 2300 mg a day.

• When your intake of water is more than you expel, there will be an abnormal build-up of fluid. Less urine output causes swelling in the body.

• People with digestion issues also sometimes suffer from water retention.

• Certain medications when taken on long term, such as birth control pills, antidepressants, hormone pills, blood pressure-lowering drugs and steroids, can also lead to fluid accumulation in the body.

• At times, water retention could be due to some serious underlying health condition such as due to liver diseases, heart problems, kidney diseases and increased protein consumption.

How Does Rice Affect Water Retention?

Once the major factors that lead to water retention are ruled out, you can turn towards controlling your diet, which also has a role to play in water retention, as a portion of water in your body originates from the food you eat. Rice, for instance, has always been thought to be associated with water retention.

High starch present in white rice can affect fluid retention, apart from its inability to maintain your weight. This is because refined carbohydrates can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, causing the body to retain more sodium. This leads to more fluid build-up in the body. However, it can affect fluid retention only when taken in large quantities. Apart from white rice, processed sugars and white flours also lead to high water retention.

Instead, switch to healthier versions of rice such as brown rice or red rice, as nutritious whole grains can help you get rid of water retention and promote healthy digestion.

The presence of high concentrations of fibre, B vitamins, magnesium, particularly Vitamin B6, in whole grains has shown to reduce water retention, flush out excess water and promote healthy digestion.

Other wonderful options for rice such as buckwheat, quinoa and amaranth, or oatmeal are all great alternatives if you are really are concerned about water retention.

How To Prevent Water Retention?

If your water retention is caused due to any major underlying health concern, seek medical attention immediately. However, if that is not the case, then try the following ways to prevent it:

• Try to get more physically active, particularly if your work involves hours of desk job, or when you are sitting through long flights.

• Discuss with your doctor and limit your daily salt intake.

• Go for high protein in moderate amounts like milk, eggs, soya bean, brown rice and fish.

• Make sure that you do not add excess salt to your meals. Replace salt with other seasonings such as organic spices, herbs or lime.

• Avoid foods that are high in sodium such as processed, frozen or canned foods that are high in salt content.

• Include a good amount of vegetables and fruits in your diet, as they stimulate the kidney, prompting release of excess water that helps reduce oedema.

• Barley water and cranberry juice, being diuretic, can help remove excess fluid from your body. So is the case with grapes and green beans, and so it is with apple juice.

• Magnesium is effective in reducing water retention, particularly in women with premenstrual symptom of water retention. Nuts, whole grains, leafy green veggies are good sources of magnesium.

However, if your water retention is due to other major health reasons, you should discuss your condition with your doctor and follow a diet plan accordingly.

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