How to Banish Bloat & Water Retention

Water retention occurs when fluid is held in the body, rather than being released as urine. Water retention can make you feel bloated and can occur in the legs, abdomen, ankles, breasts, fingers and even underneath the eyes. Water retention can occur during pregnancy, a woman's menstrual period, as a result of diet, or for seemingly no reason at all. In most cases, changes in diet and exercise can help reduce water retention. If you feel extremely bloated and you're not sure why, consult a doctor, as your water retention could be the cause of an underlying health condition.

Step 1

Cut down on your salt intake. When you consume salt, the body will retain more water to try and dilute it, suggests "The Doctors Book of Home Remedies." Eliminate high-sodium foods from your diet, like chips, soy sauce and canned soups.

Step 2

Go for a walk. Exercise can help reduce water retention in your ankles and legs, says Susan Lark, M.D., author of "The Premenstrual Syndrome Self-Help Book." Although you may not feel like it, getting those legs moving, by biking, running or walking, can help eliminate bloating.

Step 3

Take your vitamins. You need to consume 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day and 200 to 400 milligrams of magnesium a day to help reduce symptoms of water retention. Dr. Lark recommends taking 250 milligrams of vitamin B6 a day to help reduce premenstrual bloating and water retention.

Step 4

Consider over-the-counter diuretics. Over-the-counter diuretics can help reduce water retention, but many contain caffeine, which can cause irritability and breast tenderness, says Candace Brown, Pharm.D., associate professor of pharmacy and psychiatry at the University of Tennessee.

Step 5

Eat a nutritious, balanced diet every day. Eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, seeds and nuts can help flush the salt from processed foods out of your system.

Things You'll Need

  • Calcium

  • Magnesium

  • Vitamin B6

  • Over-the-counter diuretics

  • Fruits and vegetables

  • Whole grains

  • Lean protein

  • Seeds

  • Nuts


Alcohol can cause excess water retention. Avoid or limit all types of alcohol as a beverage and added to foods and sauces.


Water retention could be the sign of celiac disease or irritable bowel syndrome-- If you have any additional symptoms, contact your doctor.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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