Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients, along with protein and fat, that provide energy to the body. When carbohydrates are consumed, they are broken down into glucose, which is then used by the body for energy or stored as glycogen.
However, the consumption of carbohydrates can also lead to fluid retention in the body. In this article, we will explore why carbohydrates make you retain fluid.
Carbohydrates stimulate insulin secretion
One of the primary ways that carbohydrates can lead to fluid retention is by stimulating insulin secretion. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps regulate blood sugar levels.
When carbohydrates are consumed, they are broken down into glucose, which triggers the release of insulin.
Insulin promotes the uptake of glucose into cells, including muscle cells.
However, it also promotes the retention of sodium by the kidneys, which can lead to an increase in fluid volume in the body.
This is because sodium attracts water, and when the kidneys retain more sodium, the body retains more water.
In addition, insulin also stimulates the production of aldosterone, another hormone that helps regulate sodium and fluid balance in the body.
Aldosterone promotes the retention of sodium by the kidneys, leading to an increase in fluid volume.
Carbohydrates increase glycogen storage
Another way that carbohydrates can lead to fluid retention is by increasing glycogen storage in the body.
Glycogen is a form of glucose that is stored in the liver and muscles. It acts as a reserve source of energy for the body.
When carbohydrates are consumed, they are broken down into glucose and used to replenish glycogen stores.
Glycogen holds water within the body, and for every gram of glycogen stored, up to three grams of water can be stored with it.
Therefore, when carbohydrate intake is high, glycogen storage increases, and water is also retained in the body. This can lead to an increase in body weight and bloating.
Carbohydrates can increase inflammation
High carbohydrate intake can also lead to an increase in inflammation in the body.
Inflammation is a natural immune response that occurs when the body detects harmful stimuli, such as pathogens or damaged cells.
However, chronic inflammation can lead to a range of health problems, including fluid retention.
This is because inflammation can lead to an increase in blood vessel permeability, which can allow fluid to leak out into the surrounding tissues.
Carbohydrates, particularly refined carbohydrates such as white bread and sugar, have been shown to increase inflammation in the body.
Inflammation can also cause an increase in the production of aldosterone, which promotes fluid retention, as mentioned above.
Carbohydrates can affect gut health
The gut is home to trillions of bacteria, collectively known as the gut microbiome. The gut microbiome plays a crucial role in digestive health, immune function, and overall health.
However, high carbohydrate intake, particularly from refined carbohydrates, can disrupt the balance of the gut microbiome.
This can lead to a range of digestive problems, including bloating and fluid retention.
Carbohydrates, particularly refined carbohydrates, can also lead to an increase in gas production in the gut. This can further contribute to bloating and fluid retention.
In conclusion, carbohydrates can make you retain fluid in several ways.
They can stimulate insulin secretion, increase glycogen storage, increase inflammation, and affect gut health.
It is important to note that not all carbohydrates are created equal, and complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and vegetables are generally more beneficial for overall health.
If you experience frequent bloating or fluid retention, it may be helpful to consult a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to determine the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.