After eating and drinking, the body breaks down the things we consume to create nutrients. When the body does not need a nutrient, the blood carries it to the kidneys. The kidneys then filter out the excess material and create urine. As kidney function declines, it becomes harder for the organs to filter properly. Over time, excess nutrients accumulate and further damage the kidneys, potentially leading to full kidney failure. One of the simplest ways to prevent this is to simply follow a kidney disease-friendly diet.

The risks of pre-seasoned foods

It can be difficult to fit cooking into a busy life, so many people try to take a few shortcuts where they can. Pre-seasoned foods, such as rotisserie chickens, whole turkeys, burgers, and pork chops, are core parts of many people’s diets. However, these items often have far more sodium than someone with chronic kidney disease should consume. Sodium can lead to more fluid retention, which results in the kidneys having to work even harder.

Whole roasted chicken grafvision / Getty Images


The benefits of red bell peppers

Bell peppers, particularly red bell peppers, are a fantastic addition to a healthy renal diet. They are bursting with vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants all while being low in sodium, phosphorus, potassium, and other nutrients that are hard on the kidneys. Roughly half a cup a day mixed with a variety of foods is plenty for a healthy diet.

Woman washing fresh vegetables in a colander fcafotodigital / Getty Images


The drawbacks of fast food

Cutting out fast food is usually the first step when moving to a healthier diet. Fast foods are often far higher in sodium than a home-cooked meal, meaning they place a heavy strain on the kidneys. Additionally, there could be varying levels of other nutrients that stress the kidneys. Since nutritional info is not always available, consumers may not know just how much damage they are doing to their bodies.

Fresh Crispy Pork Burgers in a row at Food Market coldsnowstorm / Getty Images


The advantages of berries

Another ideal food for people with chronic kidney disease, berries are low in calories and sugar while also being high in fiber. Plus, like many nutritious fruits, they are high in antioxidants and have powerful anti-inflammatory functions. Berries are also low in nutrients, which commonly lead to renal failure in people with chronic kidney disease. Some studies have even shown that berries can limit kidney dysfunction. Cranberries, in particular, are a popular choice.

Colorful berries assortment on rustic wooden table eli_asenova / Getty Images


The concerns with melons

Most people assume all fruits are healthy, but this is not always the case when it comes to specialist diets. Melons like cantaloupe and honeydew are potassium-rich foods that can harm the kidneys quite easily. Some options, like watermelon, are safe to eat, so people with kidney issues should always check before adding food to their renal diet.

Melon Honeydew Melons hanging in a greenhouse Sirisak Boakaew / Getty Images


The nutritional value of fish

Fish are a core part of many healthy diets due to their many nutrients, low-calorie counts, and omega-3 fatty acids. While many species of fish contain phosphorus and potassium, options like salmon, cod, halibut, and tuna have lower sodium levels and are easier on the kidneys. Nutrition experts suggest eating fish in two to three-ounce portions between two to three times a week.

Asian woman eating pan fried salmon in cafe hxyume G / Getty Images


The limitations of certain milks

Dairy foods are usually the main sources of phosphorus in a person’s diet, so people with kidney disease should limit cow’s milk to only one cup a day. Some people may feel safe drinking the various nut or grain milks, but those can also be dangerous. Oat milk, for example, is extremely close to cow’s milk nutrient-wise, including phosphorus.

Cows and pouring milk WDnet / Getty Images


The importance of egg whites

When it comes to low-calorie, protein-dense food, it is hard to beat the humble egg. However, egg yolks can be extremely high in phosphorus making them dangerous for people with kidney conditions. Egg whites, however, are much easier on the kidneys while still providing plenty of the much-needed protein.

Light, Fluffy and Buttery Scrambled Eggs on Toast LauriPatterson / Getty Images


The dangers of most sodas

Yet another item that most people cut out when trying to follow a healthier diet, soda is also a risky choice for people with chronic kidney disease. This is due to their high phosphorus content. Even some flavored waters, tea, and energy drinks are rich in phosphorus. Try to replace these items with fresh-brewed coffee or tea—meaning from beans and leaves—or plain water.

Lots of soda bottles in various flavours all lined up RapidEye / Getty Images


The healthiness of olive oil

Like fish, olive oil is an essential part of many organ-healthy diets. In the case of kidney issues, olive oil is completely phosphorus-free and has very low levels of sodium and potassium. It also contains plenty of oleic acid, which possesses powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Plus, olive oil contains an impressive amount of vitamin E, a key nutrient for brain, skin, and other organ health.

Olive oil in a glass bowl set against a wooden background masa44 / Getty Images


Low-phosphorus vegetables for kidney health

When managing chronic kidney disease, selecting the right vegetables can make a significant difference. Vegetables such as bell peppers, cabbage, cauliflower, and green beans are excellent choices because they are lower in phosphorus, which is easier on your kidneys. On the other hand, foods high in phosphorus like dairy foods, whole grains, beans, nuts, and potatoes should be consumed in moderation. Integrating these low-phosphorus vegetables into your diet not only supports kidney health but also ensures you're getting a variety of nutrients without overburdening your kidneys.

bell pepper and cabbage on wood


Choosing the right grains for a kidney-friendly diet

Grains are a staple in many diets, but not all grains are recommended when it comes to kidney health. Refined grains, such as white rice, pasta, and bread made from white flour, are generally lower in phosphorus and potassium, making them more suitable for those with kidney concerns. While whole grains like brown rice and whole wheat products offer more fiber and nutrients, they should be eaten in moderation to avoid excess phosphorus. Balancing your grain intake can help manage kidney disease while still enjoying a variety of foods.

Carbohydrate pasta, rice and wholemeal bread on white background


Enhancing flavor with kidney-safe herbs and spices

Reducing sodium intake is crucial for those with chronic kidney disease, but that doesn't mean your food has to be tasteless. Herbs and spices like basil, oregano, garlic, and cinnamon can add rich flavors to your meals without the need for extra salt. These kidney-safe seasonings can transform a simple dish into a culinary delight, helping you adhere to your dietary restrictions without sacrificing taste.

Spices and herbs in wooden bowls


Navigating canned soups and broths with kidney disease

Canned soups and broths are convenient, but many are a high quantity of sodium, posing a risk to those with kidney issues. Opting for low-sodium versions or preparing homemade soups with fresh, kidney-friendly ingredients can significantly reduce your sodium intake. Homemade soups also allow you to control the amount of potassium and phosphorus, making them a safer and healthier option for maintaining kidney health.

 Bone broth made from chicken in a glass jar, with carrots, onions, and parsley in the background


The impact of processed meats and alcohol on kidney health

Processed meats, such as bacon, sausages, and hot dogs, are high in sodium and preservatives, which can exacerbate kidney problems. Limiting these foods in your diet is advisable to reduce the strain on your kidneys. Additionally, alcohol can affect kidney function and interact negatively with chronic kidney disease medications, so moderation is key. By avoiding or limiting processed meats and alcohol, you can better manage chronic kidney disease and support overall kidney health.

Grilled sliced beef steak with balsamico and rosemary and red wine on stone table. Top view with copy space

By learning about the right foods to include in your diet and the ones to avoid, you can make a positive impact on your health if you have chronic kidney disease (CKD). This can help slow down the advancement of the disease and enhance your overall quality of life. Finally, it is important to consult healthcare experts, such as kidney health dieticians, to help you create a personalized diet plan that suits your unique needs.


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