Reduce water retention with Prednisone/prednisolone

Updated: Dec 29, 2021

Hi Lupus Warriors,

Do you hate the water retention, weight gain, insomnia, mood changes, restlessness and stomach upset amongst other side effects of prednisone (aka prednisolone, methylprednisolone)?


Today we’re going to deal with the first one: water retention! Here are some great tips to reduce it and have you feeling your best ....


  1. Increase the fluids you’re drinking! What? Retain less fluids by drinking more fluids?!? Yes!! Staying hydrated helps your body eliminate more of the fluids and sodium that makes the extra fluid stick around.

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NOTE: if you have Lupus nephritis (the lupus that affects your kidneys) and are on a fluid restriction, speak with your doctors first about any changes to your fluid intake


2. Increase your intake of potassium - this wonderful electrolyte is found in foods like spinach, avocado, leafy greens, bananas, sweet potatoes, and many others (all of these are AIP compliant, but if you’re not avoiding nightshade vegetables - tomatoes

and white potatoes are very high in potassium too). Here’s a link to other high potassium foods: https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/food-sources-potassium

  1. NOTE: if you have Lupus nephritis (the lupus that affects your kidneys) and have had trouble with elevated potassium levels in the past, I would NOT recommend increasing your potassium intake considerably without speaking with your doctors about safety first


3. Decrease your sodium intake - sodium is often added to processed foods as a preservative. Choosing less processed foods (chicken thigh instead of deli meat slices of turkey, beef or ham), and more home prepared foods instead of pre-packaged meals ( a frozen tv dinner or canned soup) or fast food will already reduce your sodium intake by a lot! According to the CDC, Americans are averaging >3,400 mg/day but should be consuming less than 2,300 mg/day. And for those with kidney disease, may be recommended to consume even less than that.


~ In addition to lowering water retention, less sodium also helps to lower blood pressure which lowers your risk for other cardiovascular events like stroke and heart attack.


More Tips to lower sodium intake:

Read the labels - oftentimes similar foods will have big differences in the sodium content depending on the brand. Ex: a BBQ sauce could have 900 mg per serving or 200 mg per serving!

  1. Flavor food with herbs, spices, lemon or lime instead of added salt

  2. Buy fresh - i.e. frozen or fresh vegetables instead of the canned or frozen with sauces/flavoring added

  3. Rinse canned foods - rinse before adding to your recipe or eating to helps reduce some of the sodium

  4. Ask for sauces/dressings on the side when you eat out - Most of the sodium hides there, using less of the sauces is a great way to reduce sodium intake.

  5. Look for …

  6. “low sodium” (< 140 mg of sodium)

  7. “very low sodium” (>35 mg of sodium) labels on food products.

  8. Watch out with “reduced sodium” (25% less sodium than the original) or “Lightly salted” (50% less sodium than the original) - why watch out?

  9. EXAMPLE: Original bag of chips with 1000 mg of sodium.

  10. Same bag of chips but now “Reduced sodium” is 750 mg ! Still very high