Does Sodium Make You Look Bloated?

Too much sodium plays a role in looking bloated. Sodium causes your body to hold water, which can make your body seem bloated. This occurs through a process initiated by your sodium intake and relieved by the work of your kidneys. You can reduce the amount of water your body holds by reducing your sodium intake as well as reducing sodium containing foods.

A woman reads the sodium level of soy sauce in a grocery store. (Image: Danilin/iStock/Getty Images)

Sodium and Water Retention

When you eat a large amount of sodium, your body retains water. Water retention can cause you to look and feel bloated. The same is true for the reverse, states the website. Eating too much sodium causes your body to hold water, and eating too little sodium can cause your body to temporarily lose water weight.


Sodium is one of the most powerful fluid balancers inside your body. It controls the amount of fluid around your cells. Eating a large amount of sodium triggers the thirst sense inside your brain. Your body needs to match the amount of sodium with fluid until the sodium-to-water ratio your body seeks is back to normal. Your kidneys work to expel the extra sodium and extra fluid.

Other Adverse Side Effects

Not only can a high-sodium diet make you look and feel bloated, it can also cause negative cardiovascular effects. Too much sodium can result in elevated blood pressure, which can lead to a hypertension diagnosis. The water retention that sodium causes increases your blood volume, which raises your blood pressure, making your heart work harder.


Sodium is a necessary part of your diet, but it can be harmful in excess. The USDA suggests both a lower and upper intake recommendation for sodium. It is safe to get somewhere between 1,500 and 2,300 mg of sodium per day. Control your sodium intake by eating fresh, whole foods and limiting your intake of processed, packaged foods. Read nutrition labels and observe portion control.

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