Eating For The Health Of Your Kidneys

January 31, 2023

The kidneys' responsibility is to filter the blood flowing throughout the body, thus removing waste and balancing the fluids within the body. As blood enters the kidneys, they begin eliminating waste and adjusting the salt, water, and minerals in the blood. The filtered blood then continues its journey throughout the body as the waste is turned to urine. Patients may have only ten percent kidney function without noticing any signs or symptoms. However, if blood stops coursing through the kidneys, the kidneys may die, which could lead to kidney failure. It is vital for patients suffering from conditions or diseases affecting their kidneys to alter their diet for optimal kidney health.

Be Careful With Caffeine

Caffeine is commonplace in many of the beverages individuals use to stimulate themselves and get a quick fix of energy. However, for patients suffering from chronic kidney disease or other kidney conditions should limit their caffeine intake. Since caffeine is a stimulant, long-term use can increase the risk of kidney failure in patients. Brief to moderate consumption can increase the risk of developing kidney stones, especially while fasting or on an empty stomach. The idea is to have caffeine in moderation; this includes chocolate, coffee, soft drinks, and ice cream.

Limit Dairy Consumption For Your Kidney Health

Patients with kidney disease or a health condition affecting their kidneys should reduce and limit their consumption of dairy. The kidneys are responsible for keeping a balance between phosphorus and calcium, and eliminate surplus phosphorus from the blood when necessary. When kidneys cannot properly filter phosphorus, the patient’s body will begin to extract calcium from their bones to maintain balance, which is why they should limit their intake of dairy products like milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, and other foods containing high amounts of phosphorus. These other foods patients may want to limit in their diet include beans, chocolate, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

Eat Less Animal Protein And Meat

Dairy contains animal protein, which is highly acidifying and causes the body to use calcium from the bones to neutralize acid within the body before it is filtered through the kidneys. But animal proteins can do even more damage by putting an immense amount of stress on kidneys and depleting calcium from the patient’s bones. Balancing a diet, limiting the amount of animal protein, and eating foods high in antioxidants like fruits and vegetables have proven to be the ideal diet for someone with kidney disease. Alternatively, eating a diet plentiful of meat and dairy can increase the risk of kidney stones, and other chronic kidney diseases.

Remember To Lower Your Sodium Intake

Kidneys are responsible for preventing fluid retention by removing excess sodium from the bloodstream. As kidney function declines, it can result in the build of sodium and fluid in the blood, which can then lead to swelling of the hands, eyes, and ankles, and high blood pressure. It is essential for patients who suffer from kidney disease or kidney conditions avoid food high in sodium such as potato chips, canned soup, frozen dinners, deli meats, bacon, and salted snacks. They should also avoid using salt and other spices high in sodium when cooking meals. A good rule for those with kidney issues is to limit sodium intake to no more than 2000 milligrams per day.

Reduce Your Potassium Intake

Another eating habit that can help keep the kidneys healthy and prevent disease is to reduce the amount of potassium in one’s diet. Potassium is essential for the body as this mineral helps the nerves and muscles work properly. However, if a patient has chronic kidney disease, their body cannot filter out excessive potassium that the person is consuming. When there is too much potassium in the blood, it can also lead to critical heart problems. This mighty mineral is found in a lot of fruits and vegetables, such as bananas, potatoes, avocados, and melons, and these specific foods can affect potassium levels in the blood.

The patient’s doctor should let them know if they need to limit this mineral in their diet and may recommend the individual consumes foods low in potassium and does not exceed 2,000 mg per day. Low-potassium foods include apples and apple juice, cabbage, pineapple, boiled cauliflower, plums, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, and cranberry juice.

Watch Sodas, Sugars, And Sweeteners

Sugars are only an issue with kidney disease if the patient has high blood sugar levels, or Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. However, consuming foods with artificial sugars and sweeteners will cause a decrease in the function of kidneys over time. Synthetic sweeteners such as aspartame have proven to decline kidney function due to their high toxicity and acidity. Sodas, whether they are diet or not, contain phosphoric acid that dissolves calcium, lowering bone density, which makes them more weak and brittle. Whether they contain sugar or not, soda increases the risk of chronic kidney diseases. Some alternatives to sugar and sweetener are honey or raw, organic cane sugar. Remember to lower the intake of all sugars for better kidney health.

Avoid Processed Foods

Processed foods are typically not healthy for anyone, but processed foods can be exceptionally harmful to those who are dealing with chronic kidney disease. These foods are a significant source of sodium and phosphorus, two ingredients those with kidney problems need to limit. Various studies have proven that a high phosphorus intake from processed foods can be severely harmful to those with kidney disease as it can damage their kidneys and bones. To help eliminate processed foods and begin eating healthy for the patient’s kidneys, they should try the DASH diet to guide their healthy eating habits.

Studies have also proven that processed foods can contribute to the development of Type II diabetes, and frozen and pre-made meals such as frozen pizza and microwavable dinners are often the most heavily processed food an individual can consume. Heavy processing in foods can mean hidden sugars, sodium, and fat. The best way to avoid these excessive amounts of unhealthy ingredients is to prepare fresh, whole meals that incorporate foods that are healthy for the kidneys.

Types Of Kidney Diseases

There are many different kidney conditions and kidney diseases that may warrant some changes to the patient’s diet. Conditions and diseases include renal cysts, polycystic kidney disease, kidney cancer, kidney stones, end-stage renal failure (ESRD), nephrotic syndrome, and much more. The conditions and diseases all result in minimal kidney functionality, sometimes resulting in kidney failure. However, there are many treatments such as antibiotics and dialysis that can begin to regain the function of the patient’s kidneys alongside following a kidney-friendly diet of low salt, low synthetic sugar, and antioxidant-rich foods. If the kidney disease progresses into ESRD, the patient may become dependant on a dialysis machine, or may even need a kidney transplant.

Foods Good For Kidney Health

Foods rich in antioxidants have been known to protect the body, hindering inflammation and neutralizing free radicals that can damage proteins, cell membranes, and genes. Patients with chronic kidney disease tend to experience more inflammation and are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, which is why a diet high in antioxidants can be excellent for their kidney health. Alternatively, patients with chronic kidney disease can switch to an anti-inflammatory diet to achieve better kidney health. Antioxidant-rich foods include apples, blueberries, cabbage, cauliflower, cherries, cranberries, egg whites, fish, garlic, olive oil, onions, raspberries, red bell peppers, red grapes, and strawberries.

Drink More Water

Beyond eating right, ensuring your body is properly hydrated is another great healthy habit that everyone should be following. Staying well-hydrated is not only great for your skin, brain, blood, heart, and pretty much every organ in your body, hydration effectively helps the kidneys get rid of toxins and excess sodium from the body. Drinking water is also one of the best ways to avoid painful kidney stones from developing as well. When there is too little water in the body and too much waste in urine, crystals begin to form, which then can develop into painful, irritating kidney stones.

Drinking enough water helps to dilute a person’s urine and prevent the chemicals in urine to create crystals, leading to kidney stones. Patients who are experiencing kidney problems or kidney failure may need to restrict their fluid intake as it can lead to edema, but for those who want to improve the functioning of their kidneys, drinking between one to three liters of water a day is a healthy target to aim for, which is between six to eight glasses of water. The amount of water necessary to keep your body healthy depends on your personal health needs, as well as how much you sweat and if you have other health issues.

Be Wary Of Drugs And Alcohol

With confirmation from their doctor, patients who suffer from kidney disease should immediately stop or wean themselves off of any drugs and alcohol they may be dependent on. Kidneys filter the toxins into the patient’s bloodstream, which can also affect the acidity of the patient’s urine, the condition of their kidneys, circulation through the kidneys, and the flow of urine. Drugs such as heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs, and inhalants all speed up the progression of kidney disease and can cause kidney damage or failure. Approximately thirty-three percent of patients who end up in the emergency room due to cocaine-related complaints develop acute kidney failure.

Overusing Pain Medication

It’s not just food and lifestyle habits patients with kidney disease or those who are trying to keep their kidneys healthy need to watch out for. Prescription medication, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, might relieve one’s various aches and pains, but this class of medication can be incredibly harmful to the kidneys, especially for individuals who already have chronic kidney disease. Common NSAIDs include ibuprofen and naproxen, and both of these drugs can cause kidney damage if they are regularly taken for a prolonged period.

Patients who consume NSAIDs should decrease their regular usage of this medication and never go over the recommended dosage. If an individual has healthy kidneys, use these medications for occasional pain, but do not take them regularly if not necessary. However, if a patient is taking these medicines to help treat other ailments, such as chronic pain or arthritis, they should speak to their doctor about monitoring their kidney function or trying alternative medicines or options for controlling their pain.

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