Foods That Cause And Help Reduce Water Retention

Our board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Joseph Cruise, gave his expert advice in an article published in She Knows, “Foods & Fluids That Fight Water Retention: 9 Tips to Help Combat Bloating.”

Some of the tips provided in the article include:

1. Drink water, cut out alcohol & caffeine

Drinking tons of fluids may be the last thing you want to do, but really, you should drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and minimize fluid retention.

If you’re worried about having excess water weight in your system, the problem is likely more complicated than simply stopping water intake. Many beverages with a water base would seem to act as a natural diuretic, compounds that increase urine production, but they may actually disrupt your fluid balance and lead to fluid buildup in other tissues of the body. For example, as far as alcohol and caffeine go, stay away!

“Although caffeine is a diuretic, which will make you urinate more, it does not help reduce edema,” Dr. Alissia Zenhausern, a naturopathic doctor at NMD Wellness of Scottsdale, tells SheKnows. “Alcohol contains sugar that can lead to an increase in inflammation and swelling.”

2. Eat Enough Potassium-rich foods

If you’re trying to lose water weight, it may be time to stock up on bananas.

“Potassium regulates sodium in the body and therefore may reduce water retention,” says Gans. “Foods high in potassium include avocados, pistachios, spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, artichokes, fennel, Brussels sprouts, and arugula.”

Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Joseph Cruise also recommends eating mangoes, tomatoes, and nuts.

“When magnesium, potassium, and sodium are out of balance, you can get water retention and dehydration at the same time,” Dean warns. “The adrenal (stress) glands are the main glands that transport these salts, with potassium and magnesium going inside the cells and sodium outside the cells.”

3. Avoid Salty Foods

This seems like an obvious one, right? Avoiding salty foods may help decrease water retention and improve period bloating, says Cruise.

Gans recommends replacing added salt with spices and seasonings. “Excess sodium may cause water retention,” she says. “Spices and seasonings like garlic powder, oregano, chili powder and dry mustard will add flavor without resulting in a sodium-induced bloat.”

Much of our daily salt intake comes from overly processed foods like chips and snacks as well as fast-food offerings. While fine in moderation, when the human body has too much salt, it increases blood pressure and reduces the ability to eliminate excess water.

4. Cut Down on Carbs

“Carbs such as bread, white rice, and pasta retain water,” Cruise says. “Try to cut down on carbs and your bloat will likely diminish.”

Replace carbs with good fats, like avocado and coconut oil, and avoid trans fats.

“Eating a low-carb diet flushes out water by reducing inflammation and glycogen levels,” says Dean.

5. Say No to Fried Foods but Yes to Omega-3

“Fatty or fried foods contain omega-6 fatty acids (bad fatty acids) and do not contain the same anti-inflammatory properties as their friends omega-3 fatty acids,” says Zenhausern.

Foods and cooking ingredients like salmon, coconut oil, and virgin olive oil all contain omega-3 fatty acids. Zenhausern adds that omega-3 fatty acids directly combat swelling as well as inflammation.

6. Eat Plenty of Fiber

“Fiber regulates the digestive system and prevents constipation,” says Gans. “Foods like ancient grains (quinoa, millet, barley, farro) and whole grain pasta, peas, celery, and beets can all help reduce bloating.”

Consider increasing your asparagus intake, too. Langdon says it has asparagine, an amino acid that’s a diuretic and has been known to treat swelling and PMS-related water retention. It also has plenty of fiber that helps clean out the GI tract and reduces bloating.

Celery is also high in fiber and contains enzymes that act as both a diuretic and a laxative, according to Langdon.

7. Grab a Few Watermelons

“Watermelon has a very high water content (92 percent) and contains antioxidants along with zeaxanthin and kryptoxanthin,” says Langdon. “Citrulline is an amino acid that relaxes blood vessels, which decreases pressure against the walls. This reduced water pressure prevents water from hanging out in the tissue that causes edema, or swelling.”

8. Eat all the citrus fruits — & ginger

Oranges, lemons, and limes have minerals and enzymes that cause water release from the kidneys, Langdon says. “They are also acidic, and that reduces the sodium load that causes water retention.”

These tips may be able to help you feel more like yourself, improve your lymphatic system, and get rid of excess fluid that may be built up in your system.