Close up of a woman's bloated stomach to represent IBS

Q & A: How to avoid fluid retention

“What are the best ways to avoid fluid retention?”

Clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer provides some top tips on how to avoid bloating.


This might seem counterintuitive but it’s actually very logical.  When you’re body is hot, either from the heat or intensive exercising, it produces sweat as its normal cooling procedure.  Conversely, when the body is dehydrated from not drinking sufficient water, it will also retain water in order to protect itself.  The body is around 70 per cent water, so it works very hard to maintain this balance and its natural state.

Women also tend to retain water when suffering from PMS, due to an imbalance of oestrogen and progesterone.  Again, drinking more water can help to alleviate symptoms.  You should be looking to drink between 1 ½ to 2 litres of water daily, perhaps more when you’re on holiday, when drinking alcohol (which is dehydrating) or just sitting out in the sunshine.


If you’re suffering from un-checked food allergies or intolerances, this can cause water retention.  People can often first suspect they have a problem, when, despite working really hard at a weight management programme, they still fail to lose weight.  If you are eating foods that are not agreeing with you, it can upset the body’s natural hormonal response to feelings of fullness after eating.

Common food culprits can be wheat, dairy, gluten, corn, soya and eggs.  However, everyone is different and reacts in different ways to certain foods; it’s well worth seeing a nutritionist if you feel this could be a problem for you.


Another common reason for water retention is a lack of omega 3 fatty acids, either in your diet or through supplementation.  Omega 3 fats fulfil many important functions in the body but they are intrinsic to our cellular structure as well as hormone function. They are, in fact, crucial in helping to retain the essential water balance within the body.  Another symptom of lack of omega 3’s is dry skin.  Therefore, make sure you’re eating plenty of oily fish such as salmon and sardines (great on the barbecue), by taking a fish oil supplement or a vegetarian equivalent containing flax oil.


Dandelion is an excellent diuretic so is great for banishing water retention.  It’s probably easiest taken as a tea, however. Asparagus and artichoke also make good diuretics, so ensure you’re eating plenty of them through the summer months – they both taste excellent when roasted!