The Best Foods for Kidney Health
Whether you’re living with chronic kidney disease (CKD) already or simply want to learn how to care for your kidneys and keep them as healthy as possible longer, diet is critically important. You need to understand not only what the best foods are to keep your kidneys healthy, but also which foods to avoid, what supplements you can take to maintain healthier kidneys and what other tips you can use to keep your kidneys at their best.
That’s why we’re going to take a deep dive into all things diet when it comes to your kidneys to give you the help you need and the dietary best practices for maintaining kidney health.
The 14 best foods to eat to keep your kidneys healthy
When it comes to preventing chronic kidney disease or slowing its progression, your diet plays a vital role.
The easiest way to determine what types of food to include in your diet for kidney health are to choose ones that are good for your entire body. This includes eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and incorporation whole grains and low or fat-free dairy products into your diet. You can also eat lean cuts of meat and should cut back on salt, added sugar and refined carbohydrates.
Foods that are good for your kidneys include:
#1 - Fatty fish
Rich in omega-3s, fatty fish like salmon and tuna are good for your heart and blood pressure, making them a healthy choice for your kidneys as well.
#2 - Olive oil
Another healthy source of fat, olive oil provides polyphenols, antioxidant and oleic acid to reduce inflammation, guard against oxidation and keep your heart and kidneys healthy.
#3 - Sweet potatoes
A good source of vitamins, minerals and potassium sweet potatoes may help balance your sodium levels to limit the negative effect it has on your kidneys. These should be limited if you’re on dialysis or a diet with potassium restriction.
#4 – Berries
Many people want to know what fruits are good for kidney health and all types of berries top that list. The antioxidants in berries, including blueberries, strawberries and cranberries help to protect the cells of your body, including your kidneys from free radical damage and oxidation.
#5 – Apples
The fiber found in apples, known as pectin, could help lower some of your risk factors that lead to kidney disease such as high cholesterol levels and elevated blood sugar.
#6 – Cherries
Cherries deliver both antioxidants and phytochemicals that are heart and therefore kidney healthy. Even better, these sweet fruits have been found to lower levels of disease-causing inflammation when part of your daily diet.
#7 - Red grapes
An excellent source of flavonoids that help promote blood flow, overcome inflammation and prevent oxidation, red grapes are a great way to support your kidney health.
#8 - Dark green leafy vegetables
Green leafy veggies like kale and spinach are packed with vitamins, minerals and flavonoids that guard your kidney function. However, like sweet potatoes, they are rich in potassium so anyone on a potassium restricted diet or receiving dialysis should limit their intake.
#9 - Red bell peppers
High in vitamin C, B6 and A, as well as folic acid and fiber, these brightly colored veggies are perfect for the renal diet. They also give you a healthy dose of lycopene, a potent antioxidant to guard against free radical damage and cancer.
#10 - Cabbage
The potent phytochemicals in cabbage that work to break down free radicals are the main reason to include this cruciferous vegetable in your kidney diet. However, cabbage is also rich in vitamins K and C, plus fiber, folic acid, and vitamin B6, while low in potassium, making it a good choice no matter what stage of kidney disease you may have.
#11 - Cauliflower
Just like cabbage, cauliflower is also classified as a cruciferous veggie. And, if you want to keep your kidneys healthy and prevent kidney disease, it’s a great choice since it’s packed with three compounds you might never even have heard of before.
The indoles, glucosinolates and thiocyanates found in cauliflower help your liver neutralize the waste products and toxins in your blood that can cause damage to your cells, helping to protect your kidney health. And it also packs a healthy punch of vitamin C, fiber, and folate.
#12 - Onions
The flavonoids, like quercetin, found in onions are what make them a kidney healthy addition to any renal diet. These antioxidants work hard to guard your kidneys from oxidation and free radical damage, and support your heart health, which also helps keeps your kidneys healthy.
Additionally, onions provide a potent source of chromium, which aids in protein metabolism, a vital component of kidney health since a buildup of protein in your blood goes hand-in-hand with kidney damage.
#13 - Garlic
Garlic is great for your kidney health thanks to its cholesterol lowering power.
When you have too much cholesterol, dangerous fats in your blood, your kidney health is compromised. But, garlic can help you reduce these fats as well as lower inflammation levels to optimize your kidney function.
#14 - Egg whites
If you have kidney disease, limiting the amount of protein you consume is a must. This also means choosing the highest quality protein sources available and egg whites top that list. Rich in essential amino acids, yet lower in the phosphorus found in other protein options, egg whites are a good choice for your renal diet.
The best things to drink for your kidneys
Although anyone with kidney issues shouldn’t go overboard with fluids, there are two drinks that help to keep your kidneys healthy – water and cranberry juice.
Water is the perfect vehicle for flushing out the toxins and waste products that can result in kidney stones or infections. And cranberry juice is known for its power to clean out your kidneys. Just be sure to choose one that is 100% juice, not one that’s packed with sugar.
Foods to avoid for kidney health
Many people wonder why certain foods make kidney problems worse.
And the truth is that while there’s no “right diet” for everyone, certain foods do tend to make your kidneys work harder and increase your risk of kidney disease progression.
In general the foods that need to be limited or avoided are ones that include high levels of sodium, protein, potassium or phosphorus. By changing your diet, you can live as long and as healthy as possible.
If you have chronic kidney disease or CKD some of the foods that could be hard for your body and your kidneys to handle include:
- Red meat
- Organ meats
- Cured meats like hot dogs, bologna and sausages
- Sugar-laden drinks
- Canned or pickled foods
- Egg yolks
- White potatoes (use the double boil method)
- Salted snacks such as chips and pretzels
- Fast food
- Nuts and seeds
- Peanut butter
- Lentils and beans
- Soft drinks and colas
- Bran breads and cereals
Why does vitamin D improve kidney function?
Many people with kidney issues, especially kidney failure, find that they have low levels of vitamin D. That’s why your kidney doctor will regularly order bloodwork to check and see if your levels are low to see if you need a supplement.
The reason that vitamin D is important to your kidneys is due to the high number of vitamin D receptors in the organs that convert the vitamin into its active form. This conversion helps to control the absorption of the calcium and phosphorous you eat to maintain a balance and regulate your parathyroid hormone.
However, as your kidney function is lost, so is their ability to convert vitamin D, resulting in excess production of parathyroid hormone, bone pain and weakened, easily-fractured bones. That’s why doctors often prescribe an activated vitamin D for kidney disease patients with high parathyroid levels. Yet, since vitamin D supplements in patients with CKD can be harmful if not taken properly, they should never be taken unless under doctor supervision.
Why do some kidney patients need to follow special diets?
Some people with kidney disease will need to follow a special renal diet. This becomes more likely as your kidney function decreases. The reason for the diet is to reduce the amount of waste in your blood to take stress off of your kidneys. And since much of this waste comes from the food and drinks in your diet, limiting them can also limit the progression of your disease.
The most common alterations in a kidney diet include limiting sodium, phosphorous and protein, as well as fluids and switching to high-quality sources of protein. Your doctor may also recommend reducing the amount of potassium and calcium you get from foods.
Why should kidney patients monitor potassium intake?
If your doctor recommends that you reduce your potassium intake, you may wonder why.
The reason is that as your kidney function goes down, so does your body’s ability to remove excess potassium from your blood. High levels of potassium can lead to everything from muscle weakness and irregular heartbeat to heart attack and even death.
You can monitor and reduce your potassium intake by carefully reading food labels, paying close attention to serving size and keeping a food journal.
How can you monitor sodium intake to keep your kidneys healthy?
Just like with potassium, consuming too much sodium if you have kidney disease can be dangerous since your kidneys aren’t able to effectively eliminate the excess and the buildup of fluid it causes in your body.
Because of this, getting high amounts of sodium in your diet can lead to:
- Swelling in your face or extremities
- High blood pressure
- Shortness of breath
- Heart failure
Luckily, checking food labels, watching your serving size and keeping a food journal helps keep sodium as well as potassium down in your diet. Additionally, you can limit sodium by avoiding processed foods and packaged meats, and cooking at home rather than eating out.
New insight on supplements to help maintain healthier kidneys
People with kidney disease also wonder how do certain supplements help maintain healthier kidneys and which ones are best?
And we’ve got the list of your top 5:
- Round-head lespedeza – Supports healthy kidney filtration to help wash away the wastes in your blood.
- Birch leaf extract – Supports normal urine output and balanced inflammation while promoting overall urinary health.
- Vitamin B plus iron – Protects against deficiency and anemia due to problems with kidney function to combat fatigue, dizziness, and weakness caused by the deficiency.
- Red bilberry – Provides antioxidant protection against oxidative stress which can damage kidneys, promotes healthy kidney structures, and supports normal inflammation levels.
- Vitamin E – Potent antioxidant properties support healthy blood pressure in people with impaired kidney function and boost kidney health.
These are the supplements that taken together have been show to support healthy kidney function, filtration, and protein clearance.
The scientifically-formulated power of Renohelp
Renohelp is the only supplement on the market to combine the proven power of these five kidney-supporting ingredients. As the #1 herbal kidney disease support supplement, Renohelp is:
- Tested & Trusted – Renohelp’s patented formula has been rigorously tested in clinical and laboratory studies and trusted by thousands in Europe for over a decade.
- Safe & Effective – Renohelp’s scientifically selected ingredients work synergistically to provide the most powerful all-natural kidney support available.
- Pure & Natural – Renohelp is formulated using only 100% pure ingredients for the healthiest blends and optimal results.
- Delivered in Vegetarian Capsules – Renohelp is carefully manufactured in an FDA registered facility and GMP Certified. Our vegetarian capsules are soy and gluten free and contain no fillers or binders so that you get only the purest natural ingredients to help you achieve your best health.
But remember, the sooner you begin taking Renohelp, the more it can do to help you in your battle to maintain your kidney health.
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What foods are good for kidneys? – MedicalNewsToday
Kidney Disease: Changing Your Diet – Michigan Medicine
A DaVita Dietitian's Top 15 Healthy Foods for People with Kidney Disease – DaVita Kidney Care
Vitamin D and Chronic Kidney Disease – DaVita Kidney Care
Cleaning Up Your Kidneys – Life Line Screening
Renal Diet – Nephcure