What is “excess water” in the body?

Everyone knows: the human body is 60% water. Water is literally the basis of the foundations, the main building material of our body. However, “excess water” is often discussed in fitness forums, and is especially worried about by bodybuilders and professional athletes, for whom it is the additional weight that affects athletic performance. So what is “excess water” and how to get rid of it?

The short answer : “excess” is water that accumulates in the intercellular space and remains unused in natural physiological processes. The reasons for its accumulation can be different – from an unbalanced diet and excessive salt intake to a lack of physical activity and hormonal changes. In some cases, the swelling can be caused by health problems, so if a noticeable thickening has formed on your body – for example, on your hands or feet – this is a reason to see a doctor.

Water in the intercellular space

In a normal state, water should enter the body and be excreted in approximately equal amounts. But, in some cases, water can be retained in the body and accumulate in the intercellular space. Such water overloads the lymphatic system and clogs cells, slowing down the metabolic processes in them. Excess fluid in the body in everyday language is usually called edema.

Points to remember: Swelling, especially severe swelling, can be symptoms  of heart, liver, or kidney disease. Therefore, if you notice any visible thickening on your body, this is a reason to consult your doctor. At the same time, often mild swelling can be the result of poor nutrition or insufficient physical activity, and you can cope with it on your own.

The four main factors to look out for are:

1. Regular exercise

Physical activity is one of the most obvious ways to cut down on excess water. On average, during an hour’s workout, a person loses from 0.5 to 2 liters of water, which is released with sweat, but most importantly, due to muscle activity, the fluid inside the body is redistributed, and its amount in the intercellular space is reduced .  

2. Dealing with stress

Long-term stress can, according to some reports, increase the production of the hormone cortisol, which affects fluid retention in the body. So scheduling work hours, getting the right rest, doing yoga, and meditation can be a great way to get rid of excess water.

3. Reasonable use of salt

Sodium chloride – or table salt – is one of the most abundant electrolytes in the human body. An excess of salt, as well as a lack of it, can lead to imbalances in the body and fluid retention. However, this does not mean that a sudden switch to the salt-free idea is a good idea: it can cause (albeit short-term) an increase in swelling, especially if you are used to eating a lot of salty. So a measure is needed here. 

4. More water!

It sounds a little crazy, but, yes, if you want to avoid swelling – drink more water. Our body always strives to maintain a healthy balance, therefore, in the event of dehydration, it begins to retain water in soft tissues, as if forming an airbag. In addition, adequate water intake is important for the health of the liver and kidneys, which are largely responsible for the body’s water balance. Usually, adults are advised to consume about 2 liters of water per day, but if you are actively involved in sports, you may need more (here, first of all, you should focus on your own feelings).