Our kidneys, that are located below the rib cage on either side of the spine, work as filters to remove waste products and excess water in the body through urine. Several symptoms may be noticed if the condition of the kidneys begins to deteriorate for several reasons. Some of these symptoms include itching all over the body, general tiredness, discoloration of urine, or blood and pus in the urine, reduced urine amount, appetite loss, nausea, and vomiting. Hands and feet also tend to swell because of water retention. Muscle cramps and darkened skin are other symptoms of kidney disease.
In order to control the deterioration of the kidneys, it is imperative that one follows an appropriate diet. It is also important to understand when one may be at risk of developing a kidney disease, in order to be able to follow a suitable diet.
When Are You at a Risk of Kidney Disease?
One may be at a risk of kidney disease when one suffers from any of the following.
- A person may be susceptible to contracting kidney disease when one suffers from diabetes.
- People suffering from high blood pressure may develop kidney problems.
- Chain smokers are susceptible to kidney dysfunction.
- If one has a family history of kidney disease, one is more prone to suffering from the same.
- Kidney disease is also common in people who are obese, and in people who are above 50 years of age.
Diet for Healthy Kidneys
Persons with kidney problems are required to follow a diet low in proteins, which should also be low in sodium and potassium. For those who have diabetes along with conditions of the kidney, one must also follow a low-carb diet. Mentioned below are some guidelines to avoid certain nutrients, and consume some others, in order to be able to follow a diet for healthy kidneys.
When the intake of sodium is high, it leads to high blood pressure and water retention, thereby causing excess water to collect in the kidneys, thus affecting kidney function. A Daily Value of 20% or more implies that the food item has high amount of sodium.To control sodium intake:
- Limit the intake of table salt in the food you eat.
- Apart from table salt, there are various foods high in sodium levels such as crisps, crackers, and processed foods. Try to avoid the intake of such foods.
- It is wise to read the nutrition facts of any food product before purchasing it. These facts enlist the exact amount of sodium present in the product.
- Sodium is also present in foods under the name monosodium glutamate (MSG). Keep a watch for such ingredients in packaged foods.
It is true that proteins help build muscle and repair tissues in the body. However, excess proteins increase the stress on the kidneys and cause further damage.
- Surplus proteins have been detected mainly in non-vegetarians, as meat contains significant amounts of protein. As such, it is sensible to reduce the consumption of proteins.
- It is important to eat the right kind of protein. Meat organs, sardines, walleye, and pollock should be replaced by lean meats such as lean beef, lamb, poultry (without skin), or other fish.
Kidneys tend to become unhealthy, when there is lack of water in the body, as their primary function is to filter wastes and eliminate toxins through urine. As such, they require enough water to perform this function. But this is not always the case when you have a kidney disease.
- Usually, during a kidney disease, doctors suggest to have adequate consumption of fluid, but ensure that you don't push fluids in your body. When the kidneys become impaired, their ability to filter the excess water deteriorates. Depending upon the condition of the kidney, there are some cases wherein you may be asked by the doctor to limit your fluid intake due to complications including high blood pressure and edema.
- Avoid drinking caffeinated products such as tea, coffee, and soft drinks. Green tea may be permitted in limited amounts.
Calcium and Phosphorus
These two minerals strike a balance when working together and help keep teeth and bones strong. When the kidney fails, there may be a collection of phosphorus in the kidneys, which is unsafe, while calcium may become low. As such, limiting foods high in the same, is essential.
- Some examples of foods high in phosphorus are, dairy products, legumes, meat products, nuts, and seeds.
- Technically, every food item has some amount of phosphorus. You can opt for foods lower in phosphorus such as, fresh fruits and vegetables, white bread, rice, pasta, green peas, and cereals.
- In some cases, additional supplements will be required to adjust the level of both calcium and phosphorus in the body. Your doctor may prescribe a medicine that would help reduce the building up of phosphate in your blood.
Potassium is a mineral that helps the kidneys function normally. When the kidneys fail, there may be a collection of potassium in the blood, which is bad for the muscles and mainly, the heart. As such, it is advisable to avoid potassium rich foods.
- Salt used to flavor meals, that are available in the market are very high in potassium. Try to substitute salt with other flavoring agents such as lemon and herbs.
- Low potassium fruits such as apples, grapes, blueberries, and tangerines may be consumed.
- Other potassium rich foods to be avoided are tomatoes, oranges, oat bran, avocados, spinach, and more.
Foods to be Included in a Healthy Kidney Diet
- Red bell peppers
- Corn or rice cereals
- Green beans
- Iceberg lettuce
- Green peas
- Light-colored sodas/pop
- Rice milk (not enriched)
- Unsalted popcorn
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informational purposes only, and does not intend to replace the advice of a medical expert. Any disease of the kidney is a sensitive condition, and a diet for it should be charted out only under the guidance of a qualified doctor and nutritionist.