Water Retention

In every science class from 5th grade on up we are told that our bodies are somewhere around 60% water. But if you are suffering from water retention’s bloating, pain, and/or stigma, that seems like an overwhelming amount of fluid —you just want to know how to get rid of water retention. It is important to consult a doctor when dealing with this problem (also known as edema), as it is sometimes caused by serious, life-threatening conditions like heart disease, kidney failure, diabetes, and cancer. In the vast majority of cases, you can get rid of water retention by making a few lifestyle changes, which isn’t always easy, but it is within your power.

Your body is a complex and sometimes sensitive system. If your body is lacking or getting too much of something, the system breaks down and natural defenses kick in. The defenses can manifest themselves in the form of water retention. If you follow the guidelines below, you will most likely get rid of water retention, but you will also be a much healthier person, resistant to the plethora of other maladies that spring forth from the imbalance of unhealthy lifestyles.

Causes of Water Retention

  • A dietary excess of salt and sugar
  • Lack of exercise
  • PMS
  • Pregnancy
  • Commonly prescribed medications
  • Dehydration
  • Lack of essential vitamins and nutrients
  • Underlying illness or disease
  • Hormone imbalance
  • High blood pressure
  • Low calorie diet/fad diets
  • Binge eating
  • Alcohol

Best Ways to Get Rid of Water Retention

Less Salt and Sugar

Cut back on salt and sugar. The American diet is one of excess, especially with salt and sugar (guilty). Salt causes the kidneys to retain water, while excess sugar causes the body to produce insulin, which in turn hinders the body’s ability to get rid of salt. Sodium is an essential part of our diet, but we only need a small amount daily. 1,000 mg is sufficient for salt-sensitive individuals. To get rid of water retention, you’ll have to avoid processed foods, preserved meats like bacon and ham, canned anything, and junk food. You’ll also need to have that sweet tooth removed.

More Water

Drink plenty of water; stay hydrated. Drink water to get rid of water retention? That’s right. Dehydration is one of the most common causes of water retention. Our bodies are sensitive to deprivation and have evolved to combat times of scarcity and drought. If you aren’t getting enough fluid, your body will revert to survival mode, setting aside stores of fluid that make bathing suits unflattering. According to the Institute of Medicine, men require 13 cups and women 9 cups daily. Give it a shot—this is one of the easiest, within-your-control water retention remedies.


The benefits of exercise are almost innumerable, but getting rid of water retention is one of them. Exercise helps to reduce water retention by moving fluids around the body and excreting salt through sweat. It also dilates blood vessels and increases heart rate, which leads to more frequent urination. Just be careful to drink enough water, or you’ll end up dehydrated and your body will rebound by redoubling its water retention efforts. If your water retention bloating causes pain in your legs and feet, try exercising in a pool. For many, just standing in a pool will reduce water retention pain.

Healthy Diet

Water retention can be a sign that the body is getting too much of something, or too little. A healthy diet consists first of fruits and vegetables, then wholegrain breads and pastas, and lean meats like fish and poultry. Potassium (bananas, berries, watermelon, and spinach) is vital for fluid management in the body and can actually help to offset sodium intake. Fiber (whole grains, greens, seeds, and fruits) can also aid in reducing water retention. Besides getting rid of water retention, a healthy diet will lead to increased energy, improved moods, better overall health, and perhaps more sex. And that ain’t bad!


Be careful with diuretics (substances that increase urination). If you are already making the above changes, a mild diuretic may help get rid of water retention. Start with cranberry juice or just plain lemon in water once or twice daily. Be careful with over-the-counter diuretics, as some of these supposed water retention remedies can lead to dehydration and a loss of potassium. Some people also use caffeine, but too much caffeine will cause the body to dump vital calcium and iron. If you are going to use diuretics to get rid of your water retention, start slowly and monitor your body’s reaction.

Best Natural Water Retention Remedies


In limited studies, supplements of calcium significantly reduced water retention, cramps, breast tenderness, and other symptoms related to PMS. Start out by taking 500 mg twice daily. Chewable and liquid supplements are much easier for the body to absorb, and be sure to find a calcium supplement that has a high level of “elemental calcium,” as some brands are watered down to cut costs. You can find supplements like Caltrate soft chews at Amazon.


Sometimes you can get rid of water retention by giving your body what it lacks. Multivitamins are not a substitute for a good diet; our bodies absorb and make use of essential minerals and nutrients far more readily from food. It isn’t always easy to get everything we need, and a daily vitamin can help to fill the gaps in a deficient diet.

Support Socks and Hosiery

Water retention bloating often targets the feet, resulting in annoying to debilitating pain and reduced mobility. Support socks and hosiery are snug at the feet and gradually loosen up the calf and leg, encouraging normal blood flow. Support socks may not get rid of water retention, but they may help reduce the associated pain and discomfort. You can find a variety of support socks at Amazon.


Giving up excess sodium may feel like giving up on the American Dream. No more gorging at the state fair? No more fast food? If you’re going to get rid of water retention, you’ll have to satisfy your cravings with other flavors. Try adding spices, such as garlic, ginger, chives, and cilantro, to your meals. Learning about spices can improve your health and open up new possibilities in the kitchen.

PMS and Water Retention

Because of the hormonal fluctuations women experience every month, during pregnancy, and throughout their lives, they have to endure the effects of water retention far more often than men. Not fair, I know. Female friends of mine complain about their jeans suddenly not fitting, and this is right before their moon time. Though they are not quite certain of the cause, doctors have their theories. Around this time, women experience a suicidal free fall in hormones and a rise in blood sugar.

Eating smaller, starchy meals (breads, pastas, crackers) 3–4 hours apart will keep blood sugar levels stable and thus prevent your body from stealing sugar from cells—which would then balloon with water. If you try this and make the above lifestyle changes, you should be able to get rid of your water retention problem. You could also try an over-the-counter PMS treatment such as Pamprin. These pills reduce water retention because they contain caffeine, mild diuretics, and antihistamines.

If this fails, a doctor may recommend diuretic tablets (water pills), which help the body excrete sodium and water, though they can be harmful in the long term. If water retention persists, you may be prescribed an oral contraceptive to balance hormones.

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About the Author

Julianne Ragland

Julianne Ragland