Water retention, also known as fluid retention, occurs when the body holds on to excess fluids. Many issues can cause this. Whether a person dislikes the sensation, needs to lose water weight, or is treating edema, there are also a variety of ways to prevent and reduce water retention.

Causes of Water Retention

Many factors can cause the body to retain extra water. Some are minor problems, while others are more serious and require medical treatment. These factors include

  • The onset of menstruation
  • Hormone changes
  • Low levels of certain nutrients
  • High levels of sodium
  • A variety of heart conditions
  • Standing or sitting for too long

bloated woman holding her stomach


Reduce Sodium Intake

Sodium is an incredibly important nutrient for the body, but most people consume too much of it. High sodium levels can eventually lead to cardiac issues, but one of the earliest signs of excess sodium is water retention. This occurs because the human body attempts to maintain a proper ratio of water to sodium. When a person has more sodium than is necessary, their body holds on to extra water.

Eating foods low in sodium and avoiding salt are easy ways to reduce sodium intake.

big spoon of salt over vegetarian dish; too much sodium concept


Have a High-Protein Diet

Low protein levels can lead to fluid retention. Proteins help keep water and sodium in the blood vessels so fluid does not leak into the tissues. Without a diet rich in protein, a person may not have enough of the blood protein albumin. If this protein’s levels get too low, the body begins to retain fluid, especially in the lower legs, ankles, and feet. Eggs and chicken are excellent sources of protein, as are oats, broccoli, and quinoa.

protein-rich meats and plant-based foods


Increase Vitamin B6 Intake

Another simple way to prevent and reduce water retention is to maintain a diet rich in vitamin B6. Several studies show that vitamin B6 may help with premenstrual symptoms like holding onto water. Additionally, vitamin B6 helps with protein metabolism, which may also reduce water retention. Easy-to-find sources of this vitamin include chickpeas, tuna, bananas, and chicken breast.

vitamin B6 on a cutting board surrounded by foods


Increase Potassium Intake

A diet with plenty of potassium can potentially lower water retention through a few different methods. This essential nutrient helps maintain intracellular fluid volume by controlling sodium levels and increasing urine production. Additionally, potassium can help prevent cardiac issues that eventually cause the body to hold on to fluids. Bananas, tomatoes, and avocados contain high levels of potassium.

bowls of foods that contain potassium


Increase Magnesium Intake

Magnesium is a mineral that is naturally present in many foods but is also available as a supplement. It has multiple roles in the body, but studies show that magnesium supplements can alleviate fluid retention symptoms, especially in premenstrual women. Common sources of magnesium include whole grains, nuts, and leafy, green vegetables. Excess magnesium can trigger fluid retention, so be cautious of taking too many supplements.

chemical symbol for magnesium surrounded by sources of mineral


Avoid Refined Carbs

The term “refined carbs” refers to carbohydrates that have almost no nutritional benefits, such as white flour, table sugar, and other processed sugars and grains. Eating refined carbs can trigger noticeable spikes in insulin and blood sugar levels. This then stimulates the reabsorption of sodium in the kidneys, ensuring the body contains a higher level of sodium than is necessary. As a result, the body holds on to water.

loaf of sliced white bread


Drink Lots of Fluids

While it may seem counterintuitive to drink more fluids in response to water retention, this has an important purpose. Primarily, dehydration can trigger the body to preserve water, so providing the body with fluids prevents this instinctual need. Drinking plenty of fluids also promotes urination, which can expel excess sodium and fluids from the body.

young woman drinking a glass of water


Natural Herbs and Other Diuretics

Some studies show that certain herbs act as natural diuretics, which encourage urination and treat water retention. However, the evidence is somewhat lacking, so some individuals may not notice any effects. Common natural diuretics include

  • Ginger
  • Dandelion
  • Parsley
  • Hawthorn
  • Juniper
  • Garlic
  • Fennel
  • Corn silk

Cranberry juice can have diuretic effects, but common juice additives may reduce this benefit.

ginger tea surrounded by grated and sliced ginger root



Any amount of exercise helps with fluid retention, especially in the lower legs and feet. Moderate or intense exercise that causes sweating can eliminate excess fluids from the body. Sweat is also one of the methods through which the body expels sodium. Additionally, exercise encourages the drinking of fluids, leading to urination.

man and woman running jogging up outdoor stairs


Popular Now on Facty Health


This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.