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5 kidney-healthy foods to eat

5 kidney-healthy foods to eat

Healthy kidneys are vital to body function. More than 1 in 7 U.S adults suffer from chronic kidney disease, reports the CDC. People with or at risk for chronic kidney disease can make lifestyle changes to improve the health of their kidneys.

Eating the right foods and avoiding others is one way to protect kidneys from failure. Foods with high nutritional value that are low in sodium, phosphorus and potassium are typically kidney-healthy options.

“You don’t start with your kidneys failing,” registered dietitian Susan Meyer tells Cleveland Health Clinic. “Your kidneys fail over time, so in order to lengthen that time as much as possible, you have to start adjusting your diet to try and maintain what kidney function you’ve got.”

Symptoms of kidney disease

Symptoms of reduced kidney function include: nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite, insomnia, muscle cramps, dry skin, shortness of breath and changes in urination habits, per the Mayo Clinic.

What is the renal diet?

If you have poor kidney function or chronic kidney disease, a doctor may put you on a renal diet for the health of your kidneys. A renal diet focuses on cutting out foods that may be detrimental to kidney health, specifically foods high in potassium, phosphorus and sodium, per the Mayo Clinic.

Healthy kidneys can effectively remove extra phosphorus, sodium and potassium from the blood. When kidneys fail to operate, cutting back on foods with these nutrients may be beneficial, per the National Kidney Foundation. There are also kidney-healthy foods that you can consider adding to your diet to improve and protect kidney health.

Here are five foods that could aid in maintaining kidney health.

1. Water (stay hydrated)

Staying hydrated is vital to kidney health.

It is a common misconception that every person needs to drink eight cups of water per day. In reality, every body has different daily water needs. The Mayo Clinic recommends men drink 15.5 cups of fluids per day and women drink 11.5 cups of fluids per day.

“Water helps the kidneys remove wastes from your blood in the form of urine. Water also helps keep your blood vessels open so that blood can travel freely to your kidneys, and deliver essential nutrients to them,” reports the National Kidney Foundation. “If you become dehydrated, then it is more difficult for this delivery system to work…Severe dehydration can lead to kidney damage.”

As a good rule of thumb, when you feel thirsty or your urine is dark in color, you are probably not drinking enough fluids, per the Mayo Clinic. Try drinking a glass a water with meals and between meals to stay hydrated.

2. Berries

Dark berries like blueberries, cranberries, acai berries and blackberries are loaded with anti-oxidants and vitamins that can help protect the kidneys.

“Berries are low in calories and sugar and high in fiber. They also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties while being naturally low in sodium, phosphorus and potassium,” per Cleveland Health Clinic.

Cranberries are particularly beneficial to kidney health. Cranberry juice is known to treat and protect against Urinary Tract Infections, which are common in people with kidney disease, per the Kidney and Hypertension Center.


3. Pomegranates

Pomegranates are a kidney-friendly superfood, according to the National Kidney Foundation. They are packed with vitamins B6, C and K and have three times the amount of antioxidants as found in green tea.

A study from the American Society of Nephrology found that consuming pomegranate juice protects against complications in patients with kidney disease. Patients who drank pomegranate juice every week experienced a lower risk of infections.

“We found significant reductions in hospitalization due to infections, with more than 40 percent reduction in the first hospitalization and 80 percent in the second,” Dr. Batya Kristal, a lead researcher on the study, told Reuter’s Health.

4. Olive Oil

For those looking to improve kidney health, olive oil is an excellent alternative to butter, per the National Kidney Foundation. Butter is filled with cholesterol and saturated fats, which may be detrimental to kidneys.

Olive oil is a phosphorus-free, healthy fat known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It may improve kidney health and protect against kidney disease, according to the HealthTree Foundation for Kidney Disease.

“Healthy oils and fats are considered superfoods because it helps absorb some vitamins and minerals and build cell membranes and nerve tissue,” reports the National Kidney Foundation. “It is also essential for blood clotting, muscle movement, and to lower inflammation.”

Some other healthy fats to consider for the health of your kidneys include: avocado, fish and nuts.


5. Red Bell Peppers

Red Bell Peppers are loaded with nutrients such as Vitamin C, an anti-oxidant, and Vitamin A, which boosts the immune system, while staying low in potassium so they are easy on the kidneys, per Texas Kidney Institute.

“Red bell peppers are a good source of several vitamins, antioxidants and fiber,” reports Cleveland Health Clinic. “They’re low in potassium, phosphorus and sodium, so you can continue eating these even as your kidney disease develops.”

Some other vegetables that are good for maintaining healthy kidneys include: cabbage, cauliflower, arugula, onions and sweet potatoes.