If you have chronic kidney disease, it is crucial to track food and fluid intake because diseased kidneys can't remove waste products from the body like healthy kidneys can. Good foods that help repair your kidneys include apples, blueberries, fish, kale, spinach and sweet potatoes.
If you have chronic kidney disease, it is crucial to track food and fluid intake because diseased kidneys can’t remove waste products from the body like healthy kidneys can. Good foods that help repair your kidneys include apples, blueberries, fish, kale, spinach and sweet potatoes.

If you have chronic kidney disease, it is crucial to track food and fluid intake because diseased kidneys can’t remove waste products from the body like healthy kidneys can. Here are kidney-friendly foods that can help repair your kidneys and help you stay healthier longer

  • Apples: Apples are a good source of pectin, a soluble fiber. It can lower cholesterol and glucose levels. It has high antioxidant levels. Fresh apples are also a good source of vitamin C.
  • Blueberries: Blueberries are a low-calorie source of fiber and vitamin C. Studies say it has the potential to protect against cancer and heart disease and provides brain health benefits. 
  • Fish: Certain fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. It is an essential nutrient to control blood clotting and build cell membranes in the brain. Studies say it may decrease the risk for abnormal heartbeat, decrease triglycerides levels and lower blood pressure slightly. They may potentially provide benefits in conditions such as cancer, autoimmune disease and inflammatory bowel disease
  • Kale: Kale is rich in vitamins A and C, calcium and many minerals. It is also a source of carotenoids and flavonoids, which are beneficial for eye health and cancer protection. It also contains vitamin K, which is a natural blood thinner. It has a moderate potassium level. Therefore, people on dialysis must avoid it.
  • Spinach: Spinach is high in vitamins A, C, and K and folate. The beta-carotene found in spinach helps to boost your immunity and protect your vision. It is also a good source of magnesium.
  • Sweet potato: Sweet potato is low in sugar and high in soluble fiber. This helps you feel full.

Other food items that you can have include

  • Cranberries
  • Blueberries 
  • Raspberries 
  • Strawberries
  • Plums
  • Pineapples
  • Peaches
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Asparagus
  • Beans
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Radishes
  • Summer squash
  • Garlic
  • Pita
  • Tortillas

What does a kidney-friendly diet do?

Your kidneys major function is to get rid of waste and extra fluid from your body through your urine. They also balance the body’s minerals and fluids and make a hormone that regulates your blood pressure.

A kidney-friendly diet will help protect your kidneys from further damage. You must limit some food and fluids, so other fluids and minerals such as electrolytes do not build up in your body. Also, you must ensure that you are getting the right intake of protein, calories, vitamins and minerals in your daily diet.

If you have early-stage kidney disease, there are few food items you must limit. But as your disease worsens, you must be more careful about your daily food intake.

What food items should you limit in kidney disease?

Many food items that are part of a typical healthy diet may not be right for you if you’re suffering from kidney disease. If you are diagnosed with kidney disease, your doctor may recommend limiting certain food items such as

  • Salt: Avoid table salt and high-sodium seasoning food items. Sodium affects your blood pressure and helps maintain the water level in your body. If you have ankle swelling, high blood pressure, breathing difficulty and fluid build-up around your heart and lungs, you must avoid salt. You must aim for less than 1,500 milligrams of salt in your daily diet. Use spices or herbs instead of salt. Stay away from packaged food and read labels while shopping. Focus on fresh, home-cooked food. You will get used to food with less salt or no salt within a week or two.
  • Potassium: In kidney disease, high potassium levels can build up in your blood and cause serious heart problems. The right level of this mineral keeps your nerves and muscles working well. Avoid tomatoes, oranges, bananas, potatoes, avocados, broccoli and whole-grain bread, as they are high in potassium. Eat apples, carrots and salads. Your doctor may recommend a potassium binder to help your body get rid of extra potassium. The doctor may recommend eating foods such as apple, cranberries, strawberries, cabbage, cauliflower and cucumber.
  • Protein: Though protein is important for your body, more protein makes your kidneys work harder and may worsen kidney disease. Consult your dietitian to determine the right combination and amount of protein for you. You may need to cut foods such as meat, seafood and dairy products.
  • Phosphorus: Phosphorus is a mineral that keeps your bones strong and healthy. In kidney disease, your kidneys can’t remove extra phosphorus from your blood very well. It may weaken the bone and may damage your blood vessels, eyes and heart further. You may even get heart disease. Avoid high phosphorus-containing food items such as meat, fish, dairy, beans, nuts, whole-grain bread, packaged foods and dark-colored sodas. If you have late-stage kidney disease, your doctor may advise you to have less than 1000 milligrams of phosphorus-rich foods in your diet daily. Choose low-level phosphorus foods such as fresh fruits, veggies, corn, rice and cereal.
  • Calcium: Your doctor may also advise you to avoid over-the-counter calcium supplements and to cut back on calcium-rich foods such as dairy foods. Foods that are high in calcium also tend to be high in phosphorus.
  • Fluids: Generally, you need to maintain the water level in your body. However, in early-stage kidney disease, you must limit your fluid levels. Because damaged kidneys do not get rid of extra fluid, too much fluid can be dangerous for you. It can even cause high blood pressure, swelling and heart failure. It can also build up extra fluid around your lungs and you may have difficulty breathing. You must also need to cut back on some foods that contain a lot of water such as ice cream, gelatin, watermelon and grapes. 

Depending upon the stage of your kidney disease, your doctor will advise you to reduce the potassium, phosphorus and protein levels in your diet.

What are the ways to make a kidney-friendly and diabetic diet work together?

If you have diabetes along with kidney disease, you need to control your blood sugar to prevent more damage to your kidneys. A diabetic diet and a kidney-friendly diet share a lot of the same food items, but there are some important differences. There are some ways your kidney-friendly diet and diabetic diet can work together. Below are a few food items that are good for you, if you’re diagnosed with both diabetes and kidney disease.

  • Fruits: Berries, papaya, cherries, apples and plums
  • Vegetables: Cauliflower, onions and spinach
  • Proteins: Lean meats (poultry, fish), eggs and unsalted seafood
  • Carbohydrates: Whole-wheat breads, sandwich buns, unsalted crackers and pasta
  • Fluids: Water, clear soups and unsweetened tea 
    • If you drink orange juice to treat low blood sugar, switch to kidney-friendly apple juice. It will provide the same blood sugar boost with a lot less potassium.
  • Late-stage disease: Your blood sugar levels get better with late-stage kidney disease, possibly because of changes in how the body uses insulin
  • Dialysis: If you are on dialysis, your blood sugar can increase because the fluid used to filter your blood contains a high blood sugar level. Your doctor will monitor you closely and decide whether you will need insulin and other diabetes medicines. 

Your doctor and/or dietician will help you to create a meal plan that helps you control your blood sugar level while limiting sodium, phosphorus, potassium and fluids in the body.

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Medically Reviewed on 4/12/2021
References
Medscape Medical Reference

American Kidney Fund


CDC


National Kidney Foundation


NIDDK