Why Are the Kidneys So Important?
Because they —
- Remove waste products from the body.
- Remove drugs from the body.
- Balance the body’s fluids.
- Release hormones that regulate blood pressure.
- Produce an active form of vitamin D that promotes strong, healthy bones.
- Control the production of red blood cells.
If you have been diagonised with kidney disease, you dont need to panic as your kidneys dont begin to fail immediately but over time.
This can go into remission with —
— Following a special renal diet (typically full of foods that are nutritious but low in sodium, phosphorus and potassium.)
— Regular exercise
— Addressing any underlying medical conditions
Here, we look at the best foods for people with kidney disease.
Berries are low in calories and sugar, high in fibre, full of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties as well as naturally low in sodium, phosphorus and potassium making them the perfect kidney food.
Blueberries, apart from being low in sodium, phosphorus and potassium are rich in nutrients and antioxidants known as anthocyanins, which may protect your kidneys, prevent heart disease, diabetes and it’s the reason for its blue colour.
Raspberries and strawberries contain ellagic acid, a phytonutrient that neutralises free radicals and prevents cell damage in the body. They also contains anthocyanins, flavonoids and vitamin C which act as antioxidants and the reason for it being bright red.
Eat these berries raw, as part of a salad, smoothie or dessert and even freeze them to use later on — but keep eating berries.
Not only do apples help reduce cholesterol, prevent constipation and protect your heart but they are also high in fibre and anti-inflammatory compounds which are good for your kidneys.
You can eat apples raw, as part of dessert or salad, as a stew , juice or even apple cider. Remember the saying “An apple a day can help keep the doctor away” especially if you suffer from kidney disease.
- Red grapes
Red grapes are a rich source of flavonoids and antioxidants which help reduce inflammation and protect you against heart disease, diabetes and protect your kidneys. Resveratrol, a flavonoid found in grapes, can stimulate nitric oxide production, relax blood vessel muscle cells and increase blood flow. These flavonoids also offer protection against cancer and help prevent inflammation. When buying grapes, choose the red or purple skinned ones as they have higher antioxidants.
Pineapples are considered a sweet treat for people with kidney problems. It is lower in phosphorus, potassium and sodium than other fruit and is even good for inflammation.
Cranberries are rich in antioxidants that help prevent urinary tract and kidney infections by reducing bacteria levels in urine. They protect against bladder infections by preventing bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall and may also promote gastrointestinal health by improving gut bacteria. They are low in potassium, phosphorus and sodium, making them a wonderful kidney food. Cranberries can be eaten dried, cooked, fresh, or juiced.
Cherries are another fruit that reduces inflammation and full of antioxidants that are great for kidney health.
Eat fresh cherries, cherry sauce or even cherry juice to get your daily cherry intake.
This cruciferous vegetable has many nutrients, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. It’s also loaded with indoles, glucosinolates and thiocyanates which are compounds that help the liver neutralise toxic substances and prevent cell and DNA damage.
Try substituting mashed potatoes for mashed cauliflower for a low potassium dish or dialysis diet replacement.
- Red bell peppers
Red bell peppers are a nutritious addition if you follow a kidney diet due to their low potassium, phosphorus and sodium content. They are rich in vitamins A and C, antioxidants, vitamin B6, folic acid and fibre which is good for your immunity and overall health. Eat red bell peppers raw, stir fried or as a sauce. Their versatility and health benefits make them an excellent choice for individuals with kidney disease.
Cabbage, a cruciferous vegetable, is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The various types of cabbage (white, green, and red) can all help manage blood sugar, reduce the risk of kidney and liver damage, prevent oxidative stress and even aid in weight management. Cabbage is high in vitamin K, vitamin C and fibre while being low in potassium, making it an affordable and kidney-friendly addition to your diet.
Garlic is a flavorful and nutritious alternative to salt. Its antimicrobial properties can help reduce inflammation. It is low in sodium and potassium, making it suitable for the dialysis diet. Garlic can be added to any and every dish for a flavourful and nutritious punch.
Onions are a sodium-free flavouring option for renal-diet dishes. They are rich in vitamin C, manganese, B vitamins (including folate), and prebiotic fibres that promote digestive system health by nourishing beneficial gut bacteria, as well as low in potassium and a good source of chromium, which aids in carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism.
Sautée onions with garlic, olive oil and herbs to add flavour to your food without compromising your kidney health.
Arugula is a flavourful and nutrient-dense leafy that is low in potassium, making it a good choice for kidney-friendly salads. Arugula also contains nitrates which lower blood pressure, which is an important benefit for those who suffer from kidney disease.
Protein & fats
Fish are good sources of high-quality protein and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Although they do contain moderate amounts of potassium and phosphorus- fish like salmon, cod, sea bass, white fish, mackerel, trout, halibut and tuna are naturally low in sodium.
Eat fish two to three times a week in 2- to 3-ounce portions.
- Egg whites
Egg whites are a high quality and kidney-friendly source of protein. It is low in phosphorus making it a good renal protein source.
- Skinless chicken
Skinless chicken has less fat and phosphorus than chicken with the skin. If you follow a renal diet, opt for skinless chicken.
- Olive oil
Olive oil is anti-inflammatory and a healthy source of vitamin E and unsaturated fat. It is phosphorus-free, making it a suitable option if you suffer from kidney disease.
- Macadamia nuts
Most nuts are high in phosphorus and not suitable if you’re following a renal diet. Macadamia nuts are low in potassium and phosphorus making it a better option for people with kidney issues.
Bulgur is a whole grain wheat product that is a kidney-friendly alternative to other whole grains which tend to be higher in potassium and phosphorus.
Buckwheat is a whole grain that is low in potassium, gluten free and suitable for people with kidney disease who are looking for a gluten free or healthier option.
What is the best drink for healthy kidneys?
Water is the best drink for your kidneys. It flushes out the toxins from your kidneys without adding stress to it. There’s growing evidence that drinking plain water can help prevent kidney disease and protect it from infections.
What are some foods that are bad for the kidneys?
Watch your intake of sodium, potassium and phosphorus if you suffer from kidney disease. Here are some foods you should avoid/limit-
- Dark-coloured soda
- Processed foods or pre made meals because they have high amounts of sodium in them
- Canned foods with added salt
- Large amounts of protein foods like meat and dairy
- High-fat foods
- Packaged foods with PHOS labels
- Dairy products are a natural source of phosphorus and potassium, hence they should be avoided.
- Deli meats and cold cuts
- Whole wheat bread due to its phosphorus and potassium content
- Bran cereals and oatmeal
- Avocados, tomatoes, potatoes, apricots, spinach, swiss chard, dates, raisins, prunes, oranges and bananas because of their high potassium content
The bottom line —
People with kidney disease must carefully manage their diet and monitor their phosphorus, salt, potassium, and sometimes protein intake.
Keep adjusting your diet as the disease progresses.
The DASH diet, which emphasises the consumption of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds and nuts while limiting sodium, sugars, fats and red meats, is a recommended diet that’s beneficial for kidney health. All in all, following a renal diet can help slow down the progression of kidney disease and support overall health.