Kidney Diet

Kidney diet comprises foods that help to support the kidneys. Foods for kidney support are foods that help to remove toxins or minimize the build-up of toxins in the body, improve blood circulation and help to regulate blood pressure and blood sugar.

It is a widely known and accepted fact that diet plays an essential role in preventing diseases and boosting health. Even after being afflicted by certain sicknesses and diseases, diet has been known to completely reverse some medical conditions, in some cases.

The important role that diet plays in maintaining healthy kidneys and minimizing the risks of kidney disease cannot be over emphasized.

Poor diet is probably the single largest contributor to many kidney problems and diseases that affect the kidneys (such as hypertension and diabetes).

Predominantly and unfortunately, the diet in many Western countries is unhealthy and is largely responsible for many diseases, obesity and premature death.

Ideally, a kidney diet or a diet for kidney support should be devised by a dietitian. This is especially important for patients with kidney problems or other conditions that can affect the kidneys. Based on a patient's unique circumstances, a dietitian can recommend appropriate foods in the required quantities that are suitable to individual patients.

It is absolutely vital for dialysis patients to consult a dietitian. A suitable kidney diet for someone who is not on dialysis may not be appropriate for a dialysis patient. For instance, in order to preserve kidney function, a dietitian may recommend a low-protein diet for someone who is not on dialysis. However, some patients on dialysis may be encouraged to eat as much high-quality protein as they can, to support muscle and tissue repair.

Kidney Diet Considerations

When planning a diet for kidney support, the general guideline is to use more unprocessed plant-based foods and less processed animal-based foods. This is not suggesting that one has to become a vegetarian, but the best foods for kidney support are from plant-based sources.

It has been suggested that, ideally, 75 to 80% of meals should comprise plant-based foods (preferably organic). Plant-based foods generally include fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains. Many of these foods contain antioxidants (that protect the body from the damaging effects of free radicals), carotenoid (which has anticancer and immune-boosting properties), vitamins, minerals and other properties that help to cleanse the body, stimulate digestion and boost energy.

Many plant based foods also possess anti-aging properties... so you not only feel better but you look younger as well.

Consider the following tips when planning a kidney diet:

  • Be sure to include a variety of fruits, vegetables and nuts. These may include (but not be limited to) cranberries, cherries, black berries, grapes, lemons, prunes, plums, squash, sweet potatoes, oranges, bananas, carrots, apples, pears, kale, spinach, celery, lettuce, broccoli, corn, walnuts... You can also look at our superfoods list for some additional options.

    Be sure to consult your dietitian for advice on the quantities and combinations that are right for you. This recommendation is especially important for patients on dialysis and those with other serious medical conditions.

  • Try to drink freshly squeezed juices, rather than carbonated or canned beverages. For instance, having a glass of warm or room temperature water with a fresh squeeze of approximately 1/4 to 1/2 of a lemon (depending on the size of the lemon), can help to maintain kidney health and minimize the risk of certain kidney stones formation. Lemons are a good source of vitamin C and contain antioxidant and anti-infective properties.

    Cranberries have similar nutritional properties to lemons.

  • Avoid canned foods, saturated fats and processed foods, such as table salt, white sugar and white flour. Instead of table salt use spices, garlic or sea salt; instead of white sugar use honey; instead of white flour use whole grain flour. Garlic has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties and is known to lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol.

  • Read food labels carefully and avoid foods high in sodium, sugar and saturated fats.

  • Use fish and lean white meats, such as turkey and chicken rather than processed meats and red meats, such as beef and pickled and smoked meats. Fish is an excellent source of protein, vitamins and minerals. Oily fish is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help to protect the heart and improve circulation.

  • Finally, remember to drink adequate amounts of water every day.

A good kidney diet, together with regular exercises, can significantly improve kidney function and minimize the risk of kidney failure. The nutrients found in these foods help to boost the immune system, digestive system and urinary system. Toxins are eliminated more efficiently, which places less stress on the kidneys.

Plan your meals well and try to be as consistent as you can. The long term benefits of a good kidney diet and a suitable exercise program can be enormous.

If you consistently eat well (and exercise) then the occasional indulgence (in less healthy foods that you really like) should not cause any lasting harm.

Remember to have regular medical check-ups (at least once per year) and consult your dietitian or health care provider to help you plan an appropriate kidney diet and exercise program.