How to Eat for Kidney Health

June 29,2020 |

Kidney disease is a fairly common condition that affects close to 10% of the world’s population.2 Your kidneys are an important part of your urinary tract system and are part of the body’s primary waste filtration system. Kidneys also help to regulate blood pressure, balance the fluids in your body, and release hormones that give instructions as to how certain systems should function.2 While your kidneys are responsible for a lot of things in your body, they’re also fairly susceptible to damages. To make sure that your kidneys are as healthy as possible, it’s important to monitor what goes into your body. For healthy kidneys, it’s important to limit your alcohol intake and not smoke, but you should also eat nutritious, whole meals that help your body function rather than hinder it. Here’s a few tips on how to eat for kidney health. 

  1. Prepare Healthy Meals

    A lot of people start eating healthy with a short-term mentality. They aim to lose a few pounds, relieve some symptoms from excess weight, and then return to their normal lifestyle habits. This isn’t beneficial to anyone in the long run. More often than not, the weight will come back, the problems will persist, and you’ll find yourself in a worse position than before. To avoid the yo-yo effects of fad diets, try to prepare healthy meals. Healthy doesn’t have to by synonymous with boring or bland but opting for whole ingredients with the right balance of proteins, carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals is one of the best ways to get healthy and stay healthy. 

  2. Lower Sodium Intake

    Sodium has a substantial impact on your kidneys and blood pressure, which can be dangerous for people with kidney problems.1 To help your body stay balanced and give your kidneys the best environment to flourish, limit sodium intake and instead opt for healthy spices that are full of flavor. Ideally, you should try to consume less than 2g of sodium in your daily diet for the best impact on kidney health.1

  3. Follow a DASH Diet

    The DASH diet sands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.1 It’s a diet that focuses on eating whole foods, lots of fruits and veggies, low-fat dairy, whole grains, plenty of fish, poultry, beans, seeds, and nuts while cutting sodium, sugar, sweets, unhealthy fat, and red meat.1

  4. Limit Phosphorous and Calcium

    Phosphorous and calcium are essential to building strong bones, but excess phosphorous can over-work your kidneys and cause problems.1 When your body’s phosphorous levels get too high, you’re at a higher risk for heart disease and other complications.1 Try to limit your intake of foods that are high in phosphorous to eat for the best kidney health.

    Since many foods that are high in phosphorous are also high in calcium, you should try to limit your intake of these foods and instead, look at supplementing calcium with over-the-counter vitamins.1 Talk to your doctor for the best recommendations regarding calcium supplements.

  5. Reduce Potassium

Potassium is an essential mineral, but if you have poorly functioning kidneys or chronic kidney disease, excess potassium cannot be filtered out.1 When potassium starts to build up in your bloodstream, you’ll face serious risks. To avoid complications, you need to reduce the amount of potassium you consume. There are a lot of potassium rich foods that you should limit in your diet to make sure you’re eating for your kidney health.

Best Foods for Kidney Health

In addition to the above guidelines, try to incorporate some of the best foods for kidney health listed below. These foods are great at reducing inflammation, preventing serious problems or complications, and protecting your kidneys against damage. Here are some of the best foods you can eat to help boost kidney health, neutralize free radicals, and avoid having to pass kidney stones.

Berries

Raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries all have a lot of great benefits that help improve kidney health. Berries are full of antioxidants and natural compounds that work to reduce inflammation, eliminate free radicals, and protect the body against chronic disease.3 Berries are easy and delicious enough to consume on their own, or you can add them to salads, smoothies, cereals, or baked goods.

Fish

Fish like salmon and sea bass are great sources of omega-3s, which can help your body reduce inflammation and decrease the risk of cognitive decline, depression, and anxiety.2 Sea bass and salmon are lower in phosphorus than other types of fish, but should still be eaten in moderation to avoid straining your kidneys.

Egg Whites

Eggs are a great source of healthy protein, but the yolks are high in phosphorus which is hard on the kidneys.3 To get the benefits from this high quality of protein without added phosphorous levels, skip the yolks and cook the egg whites instead. You can make an egg white omelet, scramble, or add them to smoothies.

Red Bell Peppers

Red bell peppers are great for kidney health. They’re low in potassium and contain high amounts of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B6, folic acid, and fiber.3 They’re also full of an antioxidant called lycopene, which can help aid in the protection of certain cancers.3 Red bell peppers are easy to incorporate into your diet and can be enjoyed raw, roasted, baked, or sautéed.

Cauliflower

While new food-related products are released every day, one of the most innovative things to come in recent years has been cauliflower-based products as an alternative to high-carb options—i.e., cauliflower rice. Cauliflower is filled with vitamin C and is a great source of fiber. It’s also packed with indoles, glucosinolates, and thiocyanates—all of which help your liver neutralize toxic substances that could damage your cells and DNA.3

Garlic

Garlic has hundreds of known benefits. It’s a great way to add flavor to any meal and improve your overall health. Garlic is also beneficial for kidney health, oral hygiene, and helps to reduce inflammation. If you’re not a fan of using raw garlic in meals, try garlic powder. Just avoid using garlic salt, as it contains high levels of sodium. For a less intense garlic flavor, roast your garlic in the oven before using it in a dish.

Onions

Onions are another great way to add flavor to your food. Onions are high in flavonoids, an antioxidant that helps to lower heart disease and protect your body against a number of different cancers.3 Onions are fair game, so don’t be afraid to experiment and incorporate all types of onions in your diet.

Apples

An apple a day keeps the doctor away—and improves your kidney health. Apples help to lower your cholesterol and protect against heart disease, but they’re also rich in fiber and many beneficial anti-inflammatory compounds.3 Switch out your afternoon snack for an apple to reap long-term benefits.

Cranberries

Cranberries are often known for their ability to boost urologic health, specifically when preventing or easing the symptoms of a urinary tract infection. It comes as no surprise then that cranberries are also good for kidney health. Cranberries help to prevent bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall and crawling up into your kidneys.3 If you don’t know how to incorporate cranberries into your diet, have a serving of cranberry juice instead. Just make sure that you opt for pure juice with no added sugars.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is filled with good fats that help to lower inflammation in the body, protect your cells against oxidations, and reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.2 To make sure you’re getting the best benefits out of your olive oil, always buy extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil is such a versatile oil and can be used in marinades, dressings, or used as a dip and eaten with bread.

Cabbage

Cabbage is one of the most underrated vegetables out there. While many people only think about eating cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day, incorporating it into your regular diet will not only help keep your kidneys healthy, it also boosts cardiovascular health and more. Cabbage is low in potassium, high in vitamin K, vitamin C, and fiber and has tons of phytochemicals to help protect your body against free radicals.3

Conclusion

Eating for your health doesn’t have to be boring. By incorporating a wide variety of healthy, nutritious foods, you’ll find yourself with more energy, fewer problems, and an overall healthier lifestyle. If you feel like you’re having problems with your kidneys, or have other symptoms that raise concern, call your doctor immediately. If you need any urological supplies or additional educational resources, visit our educational support page or our product selection guide. If you’re looking for personalized, confidential services, our teams of knowledgeable urological customer service specialists are here to help. 

Sources:

1 https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/diet-and-chronic-kidney-disease#1

2 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/best-foods-for-kidneys#1

3 https://www.davita.com/diet-nutrition/articles/advice/top-15-healthy-foods-for-people-with-kidney-disease

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