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HORMONAL fluctuation is a common cause of water retention, so you may notice it as part of pre-menstrual syndrome, during the period itself or during and after pregnancy.

Dr John Cormack says: "Some women put on a bit of weight before their period - their breasts get large and tender, their fingers get puffy, their ankles may swell.

"It's because sex hormones are steroids and steroids have an effect on our salt and water metabolism. It leads to an increase in total bodily fluid content, which builds up in the spaces between cells.

"It's also not uncommon for women to see a bit of swelling towards the end of their pregnancy. "

Too much salt in the diet is also a common cause. An evening gorging on junk food is enough to turn many women into Michelin men a couple of days later.

The kidney's way of responding to too much salt is to retain more fluid than normal, creating temporary swelling.

Lack of water can also contribute to the problem. If you don't give your body enough water it will compensate by retaining and storing fluids.

Other causes include alcohol and fizzy drinks, high-fat foods, and too many wheat products such as bread or crackers.

Too much standing up can also make the problem worse, while any infection of your soft tissue can cause water retention to build up.

And varicose veins can cause fluid retention in your legs and ankles. HOW DO I GET RID OF IT?: DIURETICS can be prescribed to help stop the kidneys retaining too much fluid. Low-strength diuretics are also available over the counter in chemists.

Cut down on salt. Avoid junk food, don't add salt to your meals and scrutinise packets carefully before you buy. Around a teaspoon of salt a day is all you need to maintain good blood pressure. Drink plenty of water, around six or seven glasses a day.

Avoid alcohol and fizzy drinks - go for water instead.

Avoid wheat products and consider switching to a low-fat diet.

If your job involves a great deal of standing up, make sure you take all your breaks and give your legs a rest.Compiled by GEORGINA WINTERSGILL
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 5, 1999
Previous Article:Eating Zone: Let's do brunch; How late-risers can serve up a treat for friends EACH week LUCY KNOX offers a Zone reader a food makeover. In part 19...
Next Article:Living Zone: PRIVATE MATTERS; Health issues you're too shy to talk about: WATER RETENTION.

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