Our kidneys are organs we typically don't think about until we experience some sort of kidney distress or dysfunction. From kidney stones to acute kidney failure that requires dialysis—there are life-threatening dangers involved with your kidneys not functioning properly.
World Kidney Day, which falls on March 14, is aimed to raise global awareness of the importance of Kidney Health, as well as to increase screening for chronic kidney disease.
The leading causes of kidney failure are diabetes and high blood pressure, which have caused kidney failure to rank as the 9th leading cause of death in the United States. Similar to how you can adjust your lifestyle to help prevent heart disease or diabetes, you can also make changes to help boost your kidney function.
A Healthy Kidney Diet: What Not to Include
A diet comprised of foods good for your 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, below are the types of foods to limit consuming in order to keep your kidneys as healthy as possible:
- Limit Protein. Foods high in protein including turkey, chicken, eggs, milk, cheese, and yogurt, can create more work for your kidneys. By limiting your protein intake, you can reduce 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 bloodstream fast enough, which can weaken your bones and essentially eat 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 helps your nerves and muscles function. If you are at risk of kidney disease and test positive for potassium blood levels that are too high, it's recommended to avoid fruits and vegetables high in potassium, such as bananas, avocados, and sweet potatoes.
Ideal Foods For Kidney Function
If you're concerned the list above removes tasty food options when you have kidney dysfunction, have no fear; there are a variety of 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 low in phosphorous and filled with vitamins and minerals 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, having a medical alert system from Medical Guardian can grant you immediate access to emergency help when you need it most.
Press your medical alert help button—at-home or on-the-go—if you experience any of the below kidney failure symptoms:
- 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
Your kidneys play a significant role in your daily activities and assists in maintaining your overall health. It's recommended to get your kidneys checked once a year. Have you had your kidney check-up yet?