Water retention… what can cause it!

I really wish I could take credit for my new knowledge. Sadly, I wasn’t the one who discovered the connection between low potassium, low protein and water retention, but my husband. So here’s to him for pointing this out to me. Thanks, honey.

It has been almost 3 weeks since we arrived in Germany. After a combined 13 hours on planes, and another 3 hours in the car, we were not surprised to find we were retaining water. My feet were swollen like an elephant’s, and I could barely even move my toes. I figured this would all go away within a couple of days. It did take a couple of days for it to disappear… However, another couple of days later, I noticed more swelling in my ankles. I was astonished, and I had no understanding of why this was happening. So I decided to leave it alone.

And I would have likely not started digging into the subject, had it not been for my husband, who pointed out to me yesterday, that there was in fact a connection between low potassium, protein and water retention.

Our diets over the past 2 1/2 weeks was very high in carbs, grains, sugars… and very low in protein and potassium. That is not to say that I didn’t have a little bit of meat every day. But a few days ago, for instance, we ate a Goulash, and I found 4 bite-sized pieces on my plate. Lots of sauce and rice though! 😉

Potassium is important to your health, as it is a vital mineral that is responsible for the proper function of your tissues, cells, and organs. So deficiency could cause weight gain by water retention. Severe water retention is called edema. It can lead to a swollen face, belly, fingers, legs, and feet. In some cases this can even affect your state of mind, shortness of breath, and other symptoms.

I recommend not taking a diuretic right away, as those can sometimes lower your potassium levels. In mild cases like mine, bananas should do the trick. Of course I’d urge anyone to see a doctor who has a severe case of edema. (Waiver: as always the information I’m sharing on here are the result of my research. I am however not a medical professional, and I do not give any medical advice. I simply speak from my own experience.)

Protein (specifically albumin) is responsible for keeping water and salt inside the blood vessels, keeping it from leaking out into the tissues. If you are low in albumin, you’ll retain water especially in your feet, ankles, and lower legs.

Certainly, this is not a diagnosis of your weight gain problems or mine. I know that some of my weight gain is directly related to all the crap I’ve been eating. 🙂 And I take full responsibility for that. But I do believe that in my case the water retention might be explained by low potassium and protein.

It felt good to eat clean yesterday! And today my lower legs are looking almost normal.
Isn’t it great to be paleo?

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