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How to reduce water retention: 15 ways to get rid of water retention for light-as-air legs

There are simple ways to ease water retention

ease water retention
Melanie Macleod
Wellness Editor
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If you find yourself feeling bloated and heavy, no matter how many changes you make to your diet or how much you work out, it could be down to water retention - which annoyingly, often gets worse in the summer. 

Water retention happens to the best of us, including celebrities such as Zoe Ball and Frankie Bridge, who have sought treatment to help ease water retention, while Katy Perry has talked about struggling with it in the past.

But what is water retention, and how can you alleviate the symptoms? Signs of water retention include heavy, puffy legs, as well as bloating and swollen limbs. It can make you feel tired, irritable and uncomfortable. Luckily there are plenty of simple ways to ease water retention, from supplements to massage.

Here’s what causes water retention and, more importantly, how you can get rid of it.

What is water retention?

RELATED: Frankie Bridge, Louise Redknapp & more love these slimming trousers - here's what you need to know

READ: Vanessa Hudgens shares secret to her super toned legs - and it only takes 30 minutes

Water retention (also known as oedema) occurs when fluid isn’t removed from the body, resulting in puffiness and a heavy feeling. There are two types of oedema: generalised, all over your body, or localised, in particular parts of your body - often the legs.

water retention legs© Photo: iStock

Water retention can cause heavy legs

What are the symptoms of water retention?

There are many symptoms of water retention, but the swelling of your body parts, particularly ankles, feet and hands, and feeling stiff and ache are common ones. Other symptoms can include:

  • Bloated stomach
  • Feeling stiff or achey
  • Weight fluctuations
  • When pressed, the skin may hold the indent for a few seconds

What causes water retention?

There are numerous causes of water retention, particularly in the summer months when the weather is hot. Pregnancy is also a trigger because your body's hormones encourage it to hold on to excess fluid. See below for more causes.

  • Hot weather - the body is less efficient at removing fluid in the summer months
  • Gravity – standing for long periods of time can cause water retention
  • Burns – including sunburn – your skin holds onto fluid and swells in response to burn injuries
  • The pill – can trigger fluid retention
  • Hormones associated with the menstrual cycle
  • Dietary deficiencies – such as insufficient protein or vitamin B1
  • Medications – certain drugs can cause water retention
  • High salt intake

Easy ways to reduce water retention

1. Take a salt bath for water retention

Reportedly loved by Victoria Beckham, a magnesium salt bath can help to ease bloating caused by water retention in as little as 20 minutes. Try a handle of Healthspan's Magnesium Flakes in your tub next time you settle down for a soak.

healthspan magnesium flakes

Healthspan's Magnesium Flakes Bath Soak, £8.99/$11,27, Amazon

2. Take magnesium supplements for water retention

As well as bathing in magnesium salts, taking magnesium supplements can ease fluid retention - in a controlled, crossover study, 38 women took 200mg magnesium for two months and saw significantly improved fluid retention. We love JS Health's Magnesium supplements.

js health magnesium

JSHealth Vitamins Double Strength Magnesium Supplements, £16.99/$21.17 for 60 tablets, Amazon

3. Lymphatic drainage trousers for water retention - Loved by everyone from Zoe Ball to Frankie Bridge to Louise Redknapp, these futuristic-looking trousers inflate and deflate, mimicking a lymphatic drainage massage to ease water retention.

4. Try a leg serum - Bloom and Blossom's leg serum cools and soothes heavy tired legs with this lightweight formula. Massage your legs, ensuring you massage upwards towards the heart to enhance circulation and encourage lymphatic drainage, easing water retention and moisturising your legs at the same time.

5. Step up your protein intake – eating more protein encourages your body to shed excess fluid

6. Eat more bananas – they are rich in potassium which helps to eliminate fluid retention

7. Add more cabbage, cucumber, parsley and salad leaves to your diet - they are natural diuretics so help move fluid along

8. Cut back on dehydrating drinks such as coffee, tea and alcohol

9. Drink more water - water retention can come from a lack of water - your body doesn't know when it will get more so it retains the water it has.

10. Check your menstrual cycle as plenty of people who menstruate retain water for a period of time during their monthly cycle

11. Write a food diary and make connections between certain foods and periods of bloating/swelling

12. Cut high sodium foods out of your diet – salt absorbs water and causes water retention

13. Eat a healthy, balanced diet that contains a lot of vegetables, grains and other high-fiber foods

14. Exercise has been known to help control water retention – try to do at least 20 minutes a day

15. Lie down and sit with your feet elevated when resting and taking breaks – standing or sitting all day can cause fluids to drain into your feet and legs

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