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Recommendations for how to reduce water retention

Written by: Top Doctors®
Edited by: Top Doctors®

Water retention, or fluid retention, is a common problem, although it affects women more than men, and in most cases, there is no underlying disease. Fluid retention is also known as oedema.

Water retention symptoms

When it is a "benign" fluid retention, it is usually located in the legs and is accentuated more in times of heat, with symptoms such as cramps, weakness, swelling of the legs and ankles, weight increase, malaise and a feeling of heaviness. This heaviness in the legs is due to the fact that there may be a significant accumulation of fluid, up to 2 litres or more, which also explains the increase in weight.

What causes water retention?

The most frequent causes of water retention are poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle, hormonal changes (menstruation, ovulation, pregnancy) and consumption of certain drugs (contraceptives, anti-inflammatories). Oedema in the legs can also be the first manifestation of renal, cardiac or hepatic disease, so, as a general rule, it is necessary to go to the doctor when the recommendations given below do not resolve the oedema.

How to reduce water retention

The basic rules to follow if you have fluid retention are:

- Reduce salt consumption: cut out salt or use sparingly when preparing foods and avoid those foods that contain it, such as tinned food, processed food, cheese, sausages, cooked meats, and sparkling mineral water.

- Hydrate well: drink plenty of water. Although it seems like a contradiction, the more liquid we drink, the easier it is for the kidney to eliminate the liquid ingested. In addition to water, it is advisable to drink diuretic infusions, i.e. those that favour the removal of liquids, such as those prepared with olive leaves, dandelion, horsetail, dill, parsley, chicory, onion-based consommé, leeks, and artichoke.

- Move your legs: we are a sedentary society; we spend hours in front of the computer, television or at our desks every day. If this is true for you, get up and walk for 5 minutes every hour. If you cannot get up to walk about, do pedalling motions or circulatory movements with your legs so that the muscles of the legs pump the blood to the heart. You also have to incorporate physical activity into your daily life: walk up and down stairs instead of taking the lift, walk as much as possible, go swimming... In a nutshell, move your legs!

- Other recommendations: avoid wearing tight clothing, wearing a belt while sitting, socks or stockings that tighten. Also, you'll feel better if you sleep for seven or eight hours a day and do it with your legs slightly raised.

If these recommendations do not improve your condition, go to your doctor or a specialist who can advise you on the most appropriate treatment. You should not take diuretics on your own.

Example menu


Toast with fresh cheese

1 piece of fruit

1 green tea



Skimmed yogurt with oats

1 infusion of horsetail and lemon verbena



Spinach salad with raisins and pine nuts

Grilled hake fillet with wild rice

Dessert: strawberries with orange juice



1 infusion of dill and mint (serve cold with a few mint leaves)

1 apple



Tomato soup

Onion omelette

Dessert: 1 skimmed yogurt with honey



You can have bread with meals.

When cooking or preparing food, salt must be replaced by herbs, pepper, lemon or any spices of your choosing.

If you have trouble drinking water, finish your meals with a large infused drink.


By Topdoctors
Internal medicine

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