7 Tips to Avoid Fluid Retention

There are many ways to avoid fluid retention. Do you want to know what they are? In the following article, we'll tell you.
7 Tips to Avoid Fluid Retention
Diego Pereira

Reviewed and approved by el médico Diego Pereira.

Last update: 27 March, 2023

Fluid retention refers to the accumulation of fluid in the tissues and cavities of the body. It happens due to a misalignment of the body’s mechanism to maintain a balance between the amount of fluid that enters and that which is expelled. This is a very common problem, and fortunately, there are different ways to avoid fluid retention.

Before showing you some things that you can do about it, we’ll warn you that the following information doesn’t replace the opinion of your doctors. First of all, you should see a professional and continue with the recommendations they provide. The 7 tips to avoid fluid retention are complementary and can be of great help to improve your overall health.

Seven recommendations to avoid fluid retention

Researchers note that the main risk factor for fluid retention syndrome is family history. Those who have a family history with symptoms of swelling and/or diabetes mellitus, hypertension, obesity, and other conditions are prone to suffer from it. This is something that you should keep in mind while being attentive to its main manifestations.

As Harvard Health Publishing points out, the most characteristic sign of fluid retention is weight gain. On average, most people accumulate 6.5 extra pounds before noticing the problem. This symptom is accompanied by others, such as bloating, swollen ankles, nausea, persistent cough, and fatigue. We’ll leave you with the following tips in order to avoid fluid retention.

1. Reduce sodium intake

As experts point out, high sodium intake can lead to fluid retention. Sodium is one of the protagonists that help maintain the balance of water inside and outside the cells. When a person consumes more than necessary, the balance is lost and an excess of fluid accumulates.

Many of the foods we eat on a daily basis contain sodium. Pasta sauces, bread, pastries, sausages, and others contain large proportions. According to the FDA, a teaspoon of table salt distributed in all foods throughout the day is recommended. That is, an average of 2,300 milligrams per day.

2. Limit the intake of refined carbohydrates

Avoid drinking soft drinks to avoid fluid retention.
Sugary drinks and other products carry far more health risks than benefits.

There’s evidence that a high carbohydrate diet can cause fluid retention. In particular, refined carbohydrates are especially problematic; at least when they’re a major component of the daily diet. Most of these products are high in sugar and salt and low in fiber; which together encourage water retention in the body.

White bread, cookies, processed cereals, and sugary drinks are some examples of products that you should avoid. Contrary to what’s advertised, there’s no need to implement a low-carbohydrate diet. You just have to make sure to reduce your intake and opt for more natural foods.

3. Control your weight

Both excess weight and obesity are frequent causes of fluid retention. In fact, and as experts point out, retention itself can go unnoticed among people. This is because the characteristic bloating is often assumed to be due to the extra pounds. Maintaining a healthy weight is therefore one of the main recommendations to avoid fluid retention.

4. Implement a balanced diet

Given all of the above, one of the best tips to avoid fluid retention is to follow a balanced diet. That is, opt for including fruits, vegetables, and legumes and reduce refined products and sausages. Drink plenty of water and reduce the intake of alcohol, carbonated drinks, and coffee. We suggest you consult a nutritionist to develop a plan suited to your needs.

5. Control underlying diseases

People suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease are prone to develop fluid retention. Similarly, other underlying conditions can contribute to the body retaining more water than it should. It’s for this reason that controlling underlying diseases is essential in order to avoid fluid retention. Take any medications prescribed by a specialist and attend regular check-ups.

6. Exercise regularly

A man and a woman shaking hands while exercising.
Having a daily physical activity routine allows you to reduce risk factors related to fluid retention.

Exercise is a habit with which you obtain innumerable benefits for your health. It can help you lose or control your weight and keeps your cardiovascular system in balance. Therefore, regular exercise is welcome when avoiding fluid retention. It doesn’t matter what type of activity you choose, although ideally it should be adjusted to your level of physical condition and your tastes and comfort.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends an average of 150-300 minutes of physical activity per week: 150 minutes in the case of high-intensity aerobic exercise and 300 minutes in the case of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. Walking, biking, running, and swimming are some of the options you can choose from.

7. Avoid sitting or standing for too long

Finally, another way to avoid fluid retention is to limit the continuous hours you spend standing or sitting. Spending hours in any of these positions encourages the accumulation of liquids in the lower extremities. It’s very likely that your work requires you to be in one position or another for a large part of the day, although there are always ways to reduce the consequences.

For example, take 60-second breaks every so often in order to stretch your legs or sit down, as the case may be. Doing this is very important, and is a complement to the tips to avoid fluid retention above. If you don’t perceive improvements with the help of these recommendations, consult a professional. Do it especially if you have underlying diseases or follow a drug treatment.

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  • Dunnigan, M. G., Czapla, K., Henderson, J. B., & Pelosi, A. J. (1999).  The fluid retention syndrome: recognition, risk factors and management. British Menopause Society Journal; 5(2):59-65.
  • Ong, H. S., Sze, C. W., Koh, T. W., Coppack, S. W. (2009). How 40 kilograms of fluid retention can be overlooked: two case reports. Cases J;2(1):33. doi:10.1186/1757-1626-2-33.
  • Osterberg, K. L., Pallardy, S. E., Johnson, R. J., Horswill, C. A. (2010). Carbohydrate exerts a mild influence on fluid retention following exercise-induced dehydration. J Appl Physiol;2010 Feb;108(2):245-50.
  • Rakova, N., Kitada, K., Lerchl, K., et al. (2017). Increased salt consumption induces body water conservation and decreases fluid intake. J Clin Invest. 2017;127(5):1932-1943.

Los contenidos de esta publicación se redactan solo con fines informativos. En ningún momento pueden servir para facilitar o sustituir diagnósticos, tratamientos o recomentaciones provenientes de un profesional. Consulta con tu especialista de confianza ante cualquier duda y busca su aprobación antes de iniciar o someterse a cualquier procedimiento.