World Kidney Day fell on March 9th this past month, which is a “global awareness campaign aimed at raising awareness of the importance of our kidneys.” Our kidneys are organs rarely thought about until we experience some sort of kidney distress or dysfunction. From experiencing kidney stones, which, on average, affect older men moreso than women, to acute kidney failure that requires dialysis, there are life-threatening dangers involved with your kidneys not functioning properly.
The leading causes of kidney failure are diabetes and high blood pressure, which have helped to make kidney failure the 9th leading cause of death in the United States. But just as you can make changes to your lifestyle to help prevent heart disease or diabetes, you can also make changes to help boost your kidney function. A healthy kidney diet is not that unlike other healthy diets, in that it promotes balanced nutrition, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-sodium foods.
A Healthy Kidney Diet: What Not To Include
A diet comprised of foods good for kidneys includes antioxidant-rich foods that aim to keep swelling and bloating at a minimum. If you already suffer from kidney dysfunction or renal failure, here are the foods you should stay away from in order to keep your kidneys as healthy as possible:
- Limit Protein. Foods high in protein, like turkey, chicken, eggs, milk, cheese and yogurt, can create more work for your kidneys. By limiting your protein intake, you can help to decrease the amount of waste in your blood.
- Limit Phosphorous. Phosphorous may sound scary, but it’s actually a common mineral found in beans, peas, nuts, whole grains, dairy products, beer and some soft drinks. When your kidneys don’t work properly, the phosphorous in these foods can’t work their way out of your blood stream fast enough and can weaken your bones, essentially eating away at the calcium.
- Limit Sodium. It seems challenging to avoid sodium these days, as it’s a common preservative found in many supermarket items. When you are at risk of kidney failure, however, salty foods are not your friend. A diet high in sodium can elevate blood pressure, putting you at risk of cardiovascular health concerns as well. In order to eat a healthy kidney diet, avoid adding table salt to your food, canned foods and soups, and deli meats.
- Limit Potassium. Your kidneys help to process potassium through the body, which help your nerves and muscles function. If you are at risk of kidney disease and test positive for potassium blood levels that are too high, you would be best to avoid fruits and vegetables high in potassium, such as bananas, avocados and sweet potatoes.
Ideal Foods For Kidney Function
If you are concerned that the above list takes a lot of good food options off the table when you have kidney dysfunction, have no fear; there are many foods for kidney function that are both nutritious and delicious:
- Cabbage. Filled with phytochemicals, which attack free radicals (just like antioxidants), cabbage is a versatile vegetable that’s filled with Vitamins and minerals and low in phosphorous, for ideal kidney function. Chop it up raw into salads, cook it into vegetable soups, or bake up some stuffed cabbage in the oven.
- Cauliflower. Another great food for a healthy kidney diet, cauliflower is packed with Vitamin C, folate and fiber, and special compounds in cauliflower actually help your liver neutralize toxic substances. It can be served raw, boiled, or cooked and chopped up in a trendy new dish called “cauliflower rice”.
- Garlic. Garlic is a strong antioxidant and if consumed raw also has anti-inflammatory benefits, which is ideal for those who need to maintain a healthy kidney diet. Garlic is a powerful flavor agent for any dish--once you start cooking with it, there’s no turning back!
- Blueberries, Strawberries and Raspberries. These colorful berries are rich in antioxidants, Vitamin C, fiber and manganese. They can be enjoyed as a snack, toppings on cereal or oatmeal, or frozen and blended into delicious smoothies.
- Egg Whites. A great source of protein, egg whites have less phosphorous than other types of protein, including egg yolks and lean meats. Egg whites are great for omelets in the morning, or egg white and avocado salad for lunch or dinner.
- Fish. Another great source of protein, fish is an integral part of any diet, as it is endorsed by both the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association. Packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, an anti-inflammatory element that has been shown to help prevent diseases, lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and raise HDL (good cholesterol).
Be Prepared For Anything
When a medical emergency strikes, including kidney failure, having a medical alert system from Medical Guardian on hand can grant you quick access to help when you need it most. Since the symptoms of kidney failure include the following, it’s not a bad idea to be prepared for an emergency at home:
- Vomiting and nausea
- Fatigue and weakness
- Loss of appetite
- Swelling of feet and ankles
- Changes in how much you urinate
- Chest pain, shortness of breath, high blood pressure
So, are you prepared?