Nearly 10% of the world suffers from kidney problems.1 While almost all patients with kidney problems are put on a medical plan, the good news is that there are special diets that can enhance kidney function and reduce the strain on them.
Here are some tips that are great not just for your kidneys but also for your overall health:
- Save the salt: Salt is perhaps the most common ingredient in all foods. However, for people with kidney problems, limiting the amount of salt in their food can help control blood pressure. Salt intake can be minimised by avoiding packaged foods and including fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. Replacing salt with other herbs and spices, like black pepper for seasoning, and rinsing packaged fish and meat before cooking to remove the salt can also prove useful.2
- Choose the right proteins: Proteins tend to be difficult for the kidneys to process and cause a lot of strain on the body. Although proteins play an important role in the growth and repair of the body, it is important to choose the right kind of proteins. Proteins that are good for those with kidney ailments can be found in both plant and animal sources. Nuts, beans and grains are the primary plant sources. The best among these include buckwheat and bulgur wheat (cracked wheat). Among fish and meats, sea bass and skinless chicken are ideal choices.3
- Look after your heart: A healthy heart puts less strain on other organs, including the kidneys. Heart-healthy foods prevent fat from depositing and building up in the arteries that supply blood to the kidneys. Foods that promote heart and kidney health include cauliflower, blueberries and cranberries, grapes, garlic, cabbage, onions, pineapples, and mushrooms. Low-fat dairy is another excellent food source to improve heart health.2,3
- Balance potassium: When potassium levels are excessively high or low in our blood, it can mean trouble for the kidneys. The easiest way to balance potassium levels is by avoiding canned and pre-packaged foods, and opting for salt substitutes while cooking. Bread, pasta, rice, cereals, and fruits like apples, peaches and cranberries can help lower potassium levels. Potatoes, brown rice and cereals, dairy, nuts and seeds, and whole wheat foods can help increase potassium levels.2,4
- Monitor your fluids: People with kidney problems need to monitor their fluid intake as they tend to retain more water, which cannot be eliminated as easily. Regulating fluid intake lowers the pressure on the kidneys and the heart. The best way to go easy on fluids is by limiting the intake of fruits and vegetables that have high water content and avoiding watery foods like soups and ice creams. Rinsing your mouth, chewing on ice or candy, and chewing gum can help quench your thirst. 4
There is little need to feel intimidated or bogged down by CKD. There are several ways to enjoy your favourite foods and live a fulfilling life. Moderate exercise and portion control will help you keep your taste buds happy and your body happier.
- Global facts: About kidney disease [Internet]. [updated 2015 Mar; cited 2019 Sep 26]. Available from: https://www.kidney.org/kidneydisease/global-facts-about-kidney-disease
- Eating right for chronic kidney disease [Internet]. [updated 2016 Oct 31; cited 2019 Sep 26]. Available from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/chronic-kidney-disease-ckd/eating-nutrition
- Fouque D, Pelletier S, Guebre-Egziabher F. Have Recommended Protein and Phosphate intake recently changed in maintenance haemodialysis [Internet]. [cited 2011, January 21]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21195916
- Kidney-friendly diet for CKD [Internet]. [cited 2019 Sep 26]. Available from: http://www.kidneyfund.org/kidney-disease/chronic-kidney-disease-ckd/kidney-friendly-diet-for-ckd.html