If all of your healthy eating and regular exercising seems to be for nothing, blame water retention. During menopause and peri-menopause, your body responds to hormonal changes and water retention is one of the main reasons our bodies and our clothes feel uncomfortable. This is one of the reasons why losing or at least maintaining your weight becomes more difficult no matter what you try.
Shifting body shapes
Gravity takes a toll on your body during menopause. Body parts appear lower than they used to be as the weight shifts and settles around your middle section and your hips. Most women will gain anywhere between 10 to 15 pounds during menopause. If you tend to eat a lot of processed foods that are loaded with fats, sugars, carbohydrates, and salt in its many forms, you can look for ways to improve your diet. But water retention plays a role in adding extra bloat to our bodies, and it is more difficult to deal with water retention and eliminate it.
Water retention and hormones
You already know that decreased estrogen and testosterone hormonal levels greatly affect your weight during menopause. Your metabolism slows down and you lose more muscle mass while at the same time your fat cells increase in size. It takes more exercise to keep the pounds off, as well as fewer calories.
One particular hormone, progesterone, is believed to play large part in water retention. As progesterone levels decrease, the body reacts by holding onto the water as a form of dehydration prevention. Plus many women make more trips to the bathroom during menopause. As a result, your body is planning to deal with a perceived ‘water shortage’ no matter how much liquid you may drink.
According to many reputable menopause experts, bloating due to water retention is temporary and usually disappears during the post-menopausal years. But until then, there are some steps you can take to help deal with all of that uncomfortable bloating.
1. Cut down your salt intake. Salt which comes in many forms (look for words containing ‘sodium’) is known to contribute to water retention. Remove the salt shaker from your table and carefully check the labels of in your kitchen. You may be surprised to learn how much salt is in just about everything we eat, including cereals, baked goods, canned foods, and frozen convenience meals.
2. Look for ways to cut down or eliminate your caffeine and alcohol consumption. Both of these products dehydrate the body, forcing it to hang on to whatever water it can.
3. Exercise regularly to help build muscle mass and burn calories. The results may not always be easy to see, but keep at it to give your body a better chance to combat weight gain. Even just three 30 minute sessions a week can make a big difference.
4. Avoid diuretics or the so-called water-pills. You might be tempted to try and flush the water out of your system, but diuretics place enormous strain on your kidneys. Taking diuretics for long periods of time can seriously impact how your kidneys function and interfere with the body’s natural way of eliminating water and any toxins.
It is frustrating to watch your body’s shape change during menopause or peri-menopause and feel helpless. The best way to deal with these changes is to talk to your doctor to find ways to help deal with the hormonal changes taking place, and possible solutions. Finally, take comfort in the fact that while water retention is not the most appealing aspect of going through menopause there are ways to look after your body until this temporary condition runs its course.
Menopause, Your Doctor, and You