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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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