5 Surprising Foods That Cause Water Retention: What to Avoid

5 Surprising Foods That Cause Water Retention: What to Avoid


5 Surprising Foods That Cause Water Retention: What to Avoid

Ever wonder why you sometimes feel puffy or bloated? The culprit might be lurking in your pantry! Water retention, a common issue many of us face, can be influenced by the foods we consume. From those tempting salty snacks to the sugary treats we just can't resist, what you eat may be causing your body to hold onto extra fluid. Let's dive into the details and uncover which foods are the main offenders.

Awareness of what you consume is the first step towards managing water retention effectively.

Understanding the connection between these foods and water retention can empower you to make better dietary choices. So, let’s dive in and identify the culprits in your kitchen that might be making you feel puffy.

Understanding Water Retention: Why It Happens

Water retention, also known as oedema, involves the buildup of excess fluid in the body’s tissues. This can lead to uncomfortable symptoms like swelling in the hands, feet, and ankles, unexplained weight fluctuations, aching limbs, stiff joints, and stomach bloating.

It happens due to various factors including hormonal fluctuations, certain medical conditions, medications, and lifemy choices. For instance, stress can increase cortisol levels, prompting your body to retain more water. A diet high in salt and processed foods can also exacerbate the issue by causing your body to hold onto more water. 

Salty Snacks

We all love a good crunch from time to time—whether it’s pretzels, potato chips, or that irresistible bowl of crackers. Unfortunately, these salty snacks are loaded with sodium, a primary culprit behind water retention. High sodium intake causes your body to hold onto extra water to balance the sodium levels in your bloodstream, leading to that telltale bloated feeling. 

Processed foods, like packaged ramen noodles, bacon, and ham, are particularly high in sodium. Over time, consuming these foods can add up to a significant sodium overload. Ideally, keeping your daily sodium intake to 2300 milligrams or less can make a noticeable difference in reducing water retention. 

Consider replacing these sodium-rich snacks with their low-sodium alternatives. For flavour, use herbs and spices like garlic, ginger, or oregano, which not only enhance the taste but also come without the water retention baggage. By making these small adjustments, you'll help your body shed that unwanted water weight.

Sugary Treats

Sugary treats are more than just quick sources of energy; they can cause your body to hold onto extra fluid. When you consume foods high in sugar, such as candy, chocolate, cookies, and cakes, your body's insulin levels spike. This sudden increase can cause your kidneys to retain more sodium, which in turn leads to water retention. Even seemingly innocent items like ice cream and sugary mixed drinks (think daiquiris and margaritas) contribute to this effect, making you feel bloated and uncomfortable. 

So, what's the solution? Aim to cut down on these sugary delights, and consider healthier alternatives. Try swapping out your sugary snacks with fruits, nuts, or yogurt. Additionally, replacing sugary drinks with water infused with fruit or cucumber slices can make a noticeable difference. This way, you can still enjoy refreshing flavours without the unwanted bloat.

Processed Meats

Processed meats are notorious for containing high levels of sodium, which is often used as a preservative. What you might not realise is that this sodium can cause your body to hold onto extra water, leading to uncomfortable bloating and puffiness. Think deli meats like bacon, salami, and ham - they stealthily ramp up your daily sodium intake. 

It's not just sodium you need to worry about. Processed meats might also contain other preservatives and additives that can exacerbate water retention. So next time you're considering grabbing a quick bite, remember that homemade meals or fresh cuts of lean meats/plant-based alternatives are a better way to go if you're trying to manage water retention.

Refined Carbs

When it comes to water retention, refined carbohydrates are a major player. Foods like white bread, pasta, and pastries might be delicious, but they can also hide a sneaky downside. These refined carbs cause your body to produce insulin, which in turn ups the rate at which your kidneys reabsorb sodium. More sodium means more water retention. 

Additionally, refined carbs are quickly turned into sugar and stored in your cells as glycogen. Interestingly, glycogen binds with water in your cells, often leading to that bloated feeling. On a typical 2,000-calorie diet, reducing your intake of these refined carbs, which should be around 275 grams per day, can significantly help mitigate water retention. 

If you're struggling with this issue, opting for whole grains instead of their refined counterparts can make a big difference. Brown rice, quinoa, and whole grain bread are excellent alternatives that not only curb water retention but also provide more fibre and nutrients, helping you feel fuller for longer. 

Canned Foods

When it comes to water retention, canned foods can be a major culprit. These pantry staples, from soups and stews to chilli and packaged noodles, often contain high levels of sodium used to preserve flavour and shelf life. It's the hidden salt in these items that contributes to that puffy, bloated feeling.

Specifically, the sodium in canned foods can cause your body to hold onto excess water. This isn't just limited to heavily salted options like canned chicken noodle soup or beef stew; even seemingly healthier choices like canned vegetables can pack a sodium punch.

To mitigate water retention, consider looking for low-sodium or no-salt-added versions of your favourite canned goods. Additionally, rinsing canned beans and vegetables under cold water before consuming can help reduce some of the excess sodium. Simple changes like these can make a significant difference in your water retention battles.

Nutrients to Focus on to Ease Water Retention

When it comes to combating water retention, certain nutrients can be particularly effective. Adding these to your daily diet may help manage or reduce that uncomfortable bloated feeling. 


This vital mineral helps your body balance sodium levels and encourages the kidneys to expel excess fluid. Bananas, sweet potatoes, and spinach are all rich sources of potassium.

Our Potassium has been blended with Vitamin C for additional health benefits. Our supplement is vegan-friendly and comes with 180 tablets; we recommend 2 tablets daily for a 3 month supply. Our supplement contains 1390mg Potassium Citrate per serving, of which 500mg is potassium and counts for 25% of your NRV (Nutrient Reference Values). Our supplement is designed to be suitable for men and women, and is also free from GMO, nuts, gluten, lactose and wheat.


Known for its role in over 300 enzyme reactions in the body, magnesium can also aid in reducing water retention. You can find it in foods like nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

Magnesium is also called "the mighty mineral" because the cells in our body depends on magnesium in regulating day-to-day metabolic reactions to help in the process of cell division and protein synthesis, to facilitate proper muscle and nerve function, and in maintenance of normal bones and teeth. Claims substantiated by EFSA (European Food Safety Authority).

Vitamin C

Known for its immune-boosting properties, Vitamin C can also help your body produce collagen and support the health of your blood vessels, reducing fluid buildup. Citrus fruits, strawberries, and bell peppers are excellent options.

Our Vitamin C supplement contains 1,000mg of Vitamin C per tablet, and 20mg of Citrus Bioflavonoids & 20mg of Rosehip per tablet. This is a 6 month supply!
Some benefits you could see from taking regular Vitamin C Supplements:
  • Contributes to the maintenance of a normal immune system
  • Contributes to the reduction of tiredness & fatigue
  • Contributes to normal collagen formation for skin, teeth and bones


While not a nutrient per se, fibre can help with digestive health and prevent constipation, a common cause of bloating and water retention. Foods high in fibre include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Our Fibre Complex offers a high-fibre blend of ingredients to help boost the intake of fibre, including: Inulin, Flaxseed, Psyllium Husk, Glucomannan, Peppermint Leaf and Aloe Vera extract. Our fibre supplement is naturally high in soluble dietary fibre to help you maintain your daily rhythm. Each serving contains an impressive 3g fibre per 5g scoop with a natural blackberry flavouring, making it ideal to mix into a smoothie for your daily source of fibre.

Quick Tips For Staying Hydrated And Reducing Water Retention

Ensuring that your body stays hydrated and free from excess water retention can seem like a balancing act, but it's completely manageable with the right approach. Let's dive into some practical tips that can help you out. 

Stay Active 🏃
Regular physical activity, such as walking, jogging, or swimming, encourages your body to sweat out excess fluids. Exercise helps improve circulation and can significantly reduce swelling in your limbs. 

Keep Hydrated 💧
It may sound counterintuitive, but drinking plenty of water actually helps reduce water retention. Aim for at least eight glasses a day. When your body is properly hydrated, it doesn't feel the need to hold onto extra fluid. 

Watch Your Sodium Intake 🧂
Too much salt can lead to water retention. Keep your daily sodium intake below 2300 milligrams. Instead of reaching for the salt shaker, try seasoning your food with flavourful herbs and spices like garlic, ginger, and oregano. 

Get Enough Sleep 💤
Quality sleep is crucial. Aim for 7-9 hours per night. Sleep helps your body regulate hydration levels and reduce swelling. 

Relax and Elevate 😌
When relaxing, try to keep your legs elevated. Elevation helps to reduce swelling and fluid buildup, especially in the lower extremities. 

By incorporating these practices into your daily routine, you'll not only stay hydrated but also effectively manage and reduce water retention. Consistency is key, so keep at it, and your body will thank you!

Written by Riya Lakhani-Kanji MSc ANutr

Riya Lakhani-Kanji MSc ANutr is a registered nutritionist and health writer. Equipped with a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Human Nutrition, Riya leverages her scientific knowledge to create engaging content that empowers people to embrace the power of plants.