I'm hacking hydration, sodium and potassium.
Is water retention as evidenced by how my ring fits on my finger a good indication of hydration?
I believe I read that potassium attracts water to inside the cells, and sodium attracts water to outside the cell.
Which of these scenarios (if either) translates into my fingers being "puffy" and my ring feeling tighter on my finger?
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In a word, no. By the time you have so much water retention that your fingers puff up, you're way way out of the proper balance.
When I went paleo my ring started fitting better. It was tight for years, and has fit perfectly ever since I went on paleo 2.5 years ago.
I think it has more to do with inflammation than hydration, though.