Water Retention: 6 Ways to Fight it With a Diet

Increasing water intake and avoiding foods with too much sodium can help stimulate kidney and lymphatic function to combat water retention.
Water Retention: 6 Ways to Fight it With a Diet
Elisa Morales Lupayante

Reviewed and approved by the pedagogue in physical education and nutritionist Elisa Morales Lupayante.

Last update: 15 December, 2022

People suffering from water retention might notice an improvement in their symptoms if they make certain changes in their diet. While there are many factors that influence this disorder, what you eat can help you control it.

This is because certain foods improve the function of your kidneys and lymphatic system, which is a deciding factor in the removal of fluids that build up in the body’s tissues. These foods also contain key ingredients that regulate your electrolyte levels and keep inflammation under control.

Are you having uncomfortable feelings of heaviness? Have you noticed any swelling in your arms or legs? If you’re experiencing these and other symptoms of water retention, try some of the tips we’ll share here today for your diet.

What is Water Retention?

Water retention, or edema, is a condition characterized by the buildup of fluids in the body. It’s caused by a lack of control of the processes that regulate your body’s fluid movements, which triggers an inflammatory response.

This is not a disease in itself, but it can be a symptom of other diseases, such as kidney disease, high blood pressure, or sudden hormonal changes. In some cases, water retention is the result of a sedentary lifestyle and a diet that’s rich in fat, sodium, and sugar.

The Symptoms of Water Retention

The symptoms of this condition will vary from person to person, depending on how severe it is or the underlying cause. In general, however, there are some defining characteristics that help identify it:

  • Swelling in the extremities, wrists, and abdomen
  • Feeling of heaviness
  • Weight gain for no apparent reason
  • Fatigue or general malaise
  • Cellulite around the glutes, thighs, and abdomen
  • Bags under the eyes
  • Low urine production.

Read also: 5 Signs of Fluid Retention

How to Fight Water Retention with Your Diet

While certain cases of water retention might require medical treatment, most of the time it can be controlled by making some changes in the diet. Next up, we want to review six tips to improve this condition.

1. Consume moderate amounts of olive oil

Olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary.

The consumption of olive oil and healthy fats has interesting health benefits. Due to its nutritional composition, it favors the absorption of some essential vitamins and reduces inflammation, according to a publication in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

However, its daily dose shouldn’t exceed three tablespoons, because in excess it favors edema.

2-Drink water and other healthy fluids

Drinking water, tea, and cleansing broths can stimulate the elimination of excess fluid from the body. These beverages will improve your circulation and kidney function to reduce the presence of fluids in the tissues.

3-Limit your sodium consumption

A spilled salt shaker.
Salt contains sodium, which is a water-retaining agent in the body..

While salt has always been used in the kitchen, it’s not a good idea to consume it if you have fluid retention. This is because excess sodium causes imbalances in the body that can exaggerate this problem. Avoid using table salt and other foods that are high in sodium, such as:

  • Sausages
  • Baked goods
  • Canned or frozen foods
  • Cured cheese
  • Sodas
  • Fried foods and packaged snacks

These kinds of processed products often also contain trans fats in their composition. These nutrients contribute to promoting a state of inflammation, according to a study published in the journal Progress in Lipid Research, which leads to an increased risk of edema.

See also: 6 Ways to Reduce Sodium in Your Diet

4-Consume more diuretic foods

Diuretic foods have a nutritional makeup that helps alleviate fluid retention naturally. They’re typically rich in water, potassium, and magnesium, all of which improve your kidney function. Some of the best options are:

  • Artichokes
  • Pineapple
  • Cantaloupe
  • Watermelon
  • Beets
  • Asparagus
  • Horsetail grass
  • Parsley and celery
  • Ginger
  • Cinnamon

5-Drink green tea in the morning

Two cups of green tea.
The antibacterial effects of green tea may contribute to the reduction of H. pylori.

The diuretic and nutritional properties of green tea can help resolve this condition. It’s a good idea to drink this beverage with breakfast or at mid-morning. Green tea makes an excellent substitute for coffee and other beverages that do nothing to treat fluid retention.

In addition, green tea is rich in antioxidant flavonoids, which can prevent the risk of developing other types of pathologies. The possible properties of this beverage in reducing the incidence of neurodegenerative diseases have been reported in the scientific literature.

6-Eat more fruits and vegetables

Increasing your consumption of fresh and raw foods, such as fruits and vegetables, will provide your body with key nutrients for your kidney and lymphatic function. Antioxidants, fiber, and minerals all help prevent inflammation.

It’s a good idea to consume fresh fruits and vegetables at least three times a day to treat water retention. If you’re feeling heaviness or pain in your extremities, you can up that amount to five servings, either plain, in juices, or in smoothies.

Improve your diet to fight edema

Are you suffering from any of the symptoms of edema? If so, consider our tips. As you can see, they’re very easy to apply and don’t force you to go on a strict diet or anything similar, but rather, introduce some improvements in your lifestyle habits.

Remember that in order for you to see better results, you should avoid alcohol, soft drinks, and other ultra-processed industrial beverages and foodstuffs.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Stella AB., Cappellari GG., Barazzoni R., Zanetti M., Update on the impact of omega 3 fatty acids on inflammation, insulin resistance and sarcopenia: a review. Int J Mol Sci, 2018.
  • Valenzuela CA., Baker EJ., Miles EA., Calder PC., Eighteen carbón trans fatty acids and inflammation in the context of atherosclerosis. Prog Lipid Res, 2019.
  • Fernando WMADB., Somaratne G., Goozee KG., Williams S., et al., Diabetes and alzheimer’s disease: can tea phytochemicals play a role in prevention? J Alzheimers Dis, 2017. 59 (2): 481-501.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.