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  • Writer's pictureDr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam

Kidney Problems: What Foods to Eat and What Foods to Avoid

If you have kidney problems, you may need to follow a special diet to protect your kidneys and prevent further damage. Your diet may depend on the type and stage of your kidney disease, as well as your blood levels of certain nutrients. You should always consult with your doctor before making any dietary changes. Here are some general guidelines on what foods to eat and what foods to avoid if you have kidney problems.

Foods to Eat

A kidney-friendly diet should include foods that are low in sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and protein, but high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Some of the foods you can eat are:

- Fruits: Apples, berries, grapes, pineapple, watermelon, cranberries, cherries, and plums are some of the fruits that are low in potassium and phosphorus, but high in antioxidants and vitamin C. They can help prevent infections, inflammation, and oxidative stress in the kidneys.

- Vegetables: Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, lettuce, onions, garlic, peppers, celery, radishes, and turnips are some of the vegetables that are low in potassium and phosphorus, but high in vitamin K, folate, and fiber. They can help lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.

- Grains: Rice, couscous, bulgur wheat, buckwheat, millet, and quinoa are some of the grains that are low in phosphorus and protein compared to other grains. They can provide energy and carbohydrates without overloading the kidneys.

- Lean meats: Chicken breast, turkey breast, fish (such as salmon, cod, trout), and eggs are some of the lean meats that are low in phosphorus and moderate in protein. They can provide essential amino acids for muscle growth and repair without causing too much waste buildup in the blood.

- Dairy alternatives: Non-dairy milk (such as almond milk), non-dairy yogurt (such as soy yogurt), non-dairy cheese (such as vegan cheese), and non-dairy ice cream (such as coconut ice cream) are some of the dairy alternatives that are low in phosphorus and potassium compared to regular dairy products. They can provide calcium and vitamin D for bone health without harming the kidney.

- Oils: Olive oil, avocado oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, and flaxseed oil are some of the oils that are low in phosphorus and high in healthy fats. They can help lower inflammation, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels.

Foods to Avoid

A kidney-friendly diet should avoid foods that are high in sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and protein, but low in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

Some of the foods you should avoid or limit are:

-Dark-colored soda contains additives that are high in phosphorus, which can build up in your blood if your kidneys are not working well. Phosphorus can cause damage to your bones, heart, and blood vessels. You should also avoid sugary beverages in general, as they can increase your blood sugar and calorie intake.

-White potatoes are high in potassium, which can cause dangerously high levels in your blood if your kidneys are not able to remove it properly. Potassium can affect your heart rhythm and muscle function. You can try swapping white potatoes for lower-potassium alternatives, such as cauliflower or radishes.

-Red meat is a source of protein, but it is also high in phosphorus, sodium, and saturated fat. Eating too much red meat can worsen your kidney function and increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes. You should limit your intake of red meat to no more than one serving per week or opt for leaner cuts of meat.

-Dairy products are high in calcium, protein, and phosphorus, which can be beneficial for your bones and muscles but harmful for your kidneys if you have too much of buildup of phosphorus in the blood, pulling calcium from your bones. This can make your bones thin and weak over time and increase your risk of bone breakage or fracture.

-Bananas are a great source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, and potassium. However, like avocado, they are also very high in potassium and should be avoided or limited by people with kidney disease. One medium banana can provide about 450 mg of potassium.

-Brown rice is a whole grain that is high in fiber, magnesium, and phosphorus. While these nutrients are beneficial for most people, they can be harmful for people with kidney disease who need to limit their phosphorus intake. Brown rice can provide about 150 mg of phosphorus per cup (195 grams), which is more than white rice.

-Processed meats are meats that have been cured, smoked, salted, or preserved in some way. Examples include bacon, ham, sausage, hot dogs, and deli meats. Processed meats are high in sodium, phosphorus, and protein, which can worsen kidney function and increase the risk of heart disease and cancer.

-Dried fruits are fruits that have had most of their water removed. They are concentrated sources of nutrients and antioxidants, but they are also very high in potassium and sugar. For example, one-fourth cup (40 grams) of dried apricots can provide about 400 mg of potassium and 15 grams of sugar.

-Oranges and orange juice are well-known for their vitamin C content, but they are also high in potassium. One medium orange can provide about 240 mg of potassium, while one cup (240 ml) of orange juice can provide about 470 mg of potassium.

-Pickles, olives, and relish are foods that have been preserved in brine or vinegar. They are high in sodium and can increase your blood pressure and fluid retention if you have kidney disease. One pickle can contain more than 300 mg of sodium, while one tablespoon (15 ml) of relish can contain more than 120 mg of sodium.

-Swiss chard, spinach, and beet greens are leafy green vegetables that are high in vitamin A, vitamin C, and antioxidants. However, they are also high in potassium and oxalates. Oxalates are compounds that can form kidney stones in some people. One cup (30 grams) of raw spinach can provide about 160 mg of potassium and 100 mg of oxalates.

You should always consult with your doctor before making any dietary changes. By following a kidney-friendly diet, you can help improve your kidney function and overall health.

Dr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam, MD, FRCP (London), FACP (USA)

Internal Medicine Specialist

Kify Hospital



Phone : 85000 23456


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