A healthy diet plays an important role in the management of your kidney function. Even in the absence of kidney disease, what you consume is an essential portion of how you care for your kidneys. Reducing the workload on your kidneys is vital to help maintaining its function and a diet with foods that are good for you is key. Proper nutrition will help to control the accumulation of food products and wastes such as urea. Adequate nutrition is always good for your kidneys to prevent kidney disease. A single type of diet for kidneys does not exist as every person has different nutritional needs depending on the level of their kidney function. Even people with chronic kidney disease do not follow the exactly same dietary plan.
Certain foods can be better for your kidneys at different stages in your kidney’s health. At high functioning kidney levels you may require less amounts of a nutrient compared to when your kidneys are in a chronic diseased state.
The following are required to maintain kidney health:
Protein is an important nutrient that is needed for your kidneys and its health. Protein repairs and builds your tissues and organs such as your kidneys. Therefore protein does a good job in fighting infection and healing your body. Foods like meat, poultry, fish and tofu are high in protein. Consumed protein is broken down into urea. If urea accumulates in the blood and is not released from the body symptoms of headaches, tiredness and nausea can ensue. However if you do not eat enough protein then you lack energy, atrophy and have difficulty fighting infections. Therefore protein is good for your kidneys when enough is consumed yet production of urea remains limited. If kidney health is impaired a dietitian is required to determine the precise amount of protein that is needed for you especially if you are receiving dialysis treatment such as peritoneal dialysis.
Health Canada’s Food Guide recommends that you choose 2-3 servings of meats and alternatives per day. If you are receiving dialysis choose from the higher range of servings. People who are vegetarians or do not eat meat should consult a registered dietitian to have a meal plan tailored to their specific kidney health needs.
Foods that are high in energy/calories are good for kidneys. Examples of these types of foods are sugars, starches, grains, fats, oils, fruits and vegetables. Energy is needed to help you perform your daily activities and maintain a healthy body weight. Therefore if you are getting few calories by having restricted protein or controlled protein intake, you will need to consider and find other sources of food to obtain more calories.
Blood pressure has an effect on your kidneys and blood pressure is affected by sodium in your diet. You need to monitor your salt intake and avoid foods with a high content of sodium. Foods to avoid are processed meat, canned foods, fast food, salty snacks and seasonings. There are many foods with salts that are hidden in the ingredients. Always read food labels and choose lower sodium foods. Augment the taste of unsalted foods by adding fresh/unsalted spices, lemon, vinegar and dried herbs.
Potassium is a mineral that aids with the functioning of your nerves and kidneys but is affected by the health of your kidneys. If potassium levels are too low or too high in your blood then it can affect the rate and rhythm of your heart beat. If kidney health is impaired and dialysis is being undergone then potassium restriction is required in order to keep levels in a normal range. A dietitian or physician will determine the potassium intake recommended each day. Examples of high potassium foods that are good for your kidneys but need a dietitians approval before consuming if kidney function is impaired and dialysis is being received are: bananas, squash, potatoes, oranges, tomatoes, beans and dried peas.
Phosphorus in an important mineral that helps keep bones healthy and strong. If kidney health becomes impaired, then the phosphate levels in the blood rise, causing calcium loss from your bones. Generally, speak with a dietitian before adding nuts, seeds, peas/beans and bran cereals to your dietary eating plan.
Calcium & Vitamin D
Kidneys regulate Calcium and Vitamin D which are needed for strong healthy bones. Kidneys that are impaired will have issues activating Vitamin D in a useable form. Foods adequate in Calcium and Vitamin D such as milk products, broccoli, fatty fish and salmon are good for your kidneys and should be consumed regularly. If your kidneys are no longer working well then mineral and vitamin supplements will be added to your diet.
Daily required fluid intake will vary depending on kidney health but water is good for kidney function. Speak with a dietitian to know how much water per day is required for your individual health needs. 8-10 cups of water per day is a standard daily recommendation.
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