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How To Reduce Water Retention? Try These 16 Effective Ways

The human body consists of around 60 per cent of water. Water plays a vital role in carrying out important bodily functions such as regulating body temperature, helping your brain function and flushing out waste from the body. However, when excess water builds up in your body, it can cause bloating and puffiness, especially in the abdomen, legs and arms which is referred to as water retention, also known as fluid retention or oedema [1].

Water retention occurs when the body fails to remove the excess water from the body's tissues. A high salt intake, body's reaction to hot weather, hormonal factors, poor diet, medication and lack of movement are some of the causes of fluid retention. Water retention causes symptoms like swelling, stiffness in the joints, weight gain, aching of affected body parts and changes in skin colour and puffy skin.

Though water retention is often temporary and it can be easily treated, sometimes it can be an indication of a serious medical condition such as heart, kidney or liver disease [1].

If you are experiencing severe water retention that lasts more than a week, you should consult a doctor immediately. In cases where the swelling is mild and water retention is not the result of a serious medical condition, you can try some ways to reduce water retention quickly and naturally. Read on to know.

Ways To Reduce Water Retention

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1. Lower salt intake

Excess intake of salt or sodium can cause water retention [2] [3]. Also, eating a lot of processed foods that are high in salt can cause water retention. So, reduce the daily intake of salt by avoiding the consumption of processed foods and eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds that are low in sodium.

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2. Consume potassium-rich foods

Potassium is an essential mineral that plays several important roles in your body, including regulating water balance. Potassium can help reduce water retention by balancing sodium levels in your body and increasing urine production [4].

Eat potassium-rich foods like bananas, tomatoes, beans, avocadoes, kale and spinach.

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3. Consume magnesium-rich foods

Increasing the intake of magnesium may aid in reducing water retention. A study showed that women with mild premenstrual symptoms who consumed 200 mg of magnesium per day resulted in a reduction in water retention [5].

Some magnesium-rich foods are whole grains, green leafy vegetables, nuts and dark chocolate.

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4. Increase vitamin B6 intake

According to a study published in the Journal of Caring Sciences, vitamin B6 has been shown to decrease water retention in women with premenstrual syndrome [6]. Include vitamin B6-rich foods into your diet, such as bananas, walnuts, potatoes and meat.

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5. Exercise

Exercising is one of the best ways to reduce water retention temporarily. Performing any form of exercise will release sweat from your body, which will help you lose excess water. However, make sure to drink water to replenish the lost fluids after an exercise so that you don't feel dehydrated [7].

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6. Do not stress

Excessive stress increases the hormone cortisol, which has a direct influence on water retention. And increased cortisol levels lead to an increase in a hormone called antidiuretic hormone or ADH that helps control the water balance in the body. This hormone works by sending signals to the kidneys that how much water to pump back into the body.

If you manage your stress levels, you will be able to maintain a normal level of cortisol and ADH, which will help in proper fluid balance [8] [9] [10].

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7. Get good sleep

We all know that sleep plays a vital role in proper functioning of the body. And studies have shown that sleep may affect the sympathetic renal nerves in the kidneys, which maintain sodium and fluid balance [11]. Getting a good night's sleep may also help the body maintain its water level and minimise water retention.

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8. Drink dandelion tea

Dandelion is a herb used in alternative medicine to treat water retention, this is because dandelion is a natural diuretic. A study showed that individuals who took three doses of dandelion leaf extract over a 24 hour period increased the production of urine [12]

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9. Cut down on refined carbs

Consumption of refined carbohydrates increases blood sugar and insulin levels. High levels of insulin cause your body to retain more salt by elevating the reabsorption of salt in your kidneys. This leads to accumulation of excess fluid inside the body [13].

To reduce water retention, avoid eating refined carbohydrates such as processed grain, table sugar and white flour.

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10. Drink tea or coffee

Coffee and tea contain caffeine which has a mild diuretic effect and may help reduce water retention. The intake of caffeine increases urine production and decreases water retention in the body [14]. Drink moderate amounts of tea or coffee.

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Other Ways To Reduce Water Retention

There are also other ways to reduce water retention which have been supported by anecdotal evidences and not have been widely studied.

  • Parsley - Parsley has been touted as a natural diuretic in folk medicine, which is used for reducing water retention [15] [16].
  • Drinking water - It is believed that drinking water may help decrease water retention.
  • Hibiscus - The diuretic effect of hibiscus has been shown in a study, which may aid in reducing water retention [17].
  • Horsetail - A 2014 study found that horsetail has diuretic effects [18].
  • Corn silk - Corn silk is used as a diuretic agent in some parts of the world to treat water retention.
  • Move your body - Sometimes lack of movement can cause water retention, so if there is body movement it can help reduce water retention.