Just as you need to take care of your heart and your lungs, you also need to take care of your kidneys, an organ whose function it is to filter waste from the blood and excrete it in the form of urine. If you aren’t getting enough kidney-friendly foods into your diet, such as those listed below, it can lead to chronic renal failure and even renal failure, both of which can be fatal if left untreated. Here are 10 kidney-friendly foods to incorporate into your diet today!
1. Spicy Foods
Adding some spice to your meals can be a tasty way to boost kidney health. Peppers contain capsaicin which has been shown to improve blood flow and kidney function. Ginger is another spicy ingredient that can reduce inflammation and nausea. Other antioxidant-rich spices like turmeric, cinnamon, and garlic can also support overall kidney health.
2. Protein, Fiber and Complex Carbs
A combination of lean protein, high-fiber carbs, and vegetables is ideal for kidney health. Beans, lentils, eggs, fish, and poultry provide protein without too much saturated fat. Whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, and whole wheat pastas are excellent complex carb choices. And leafy greens like spinach and kale give you both fiber and nutrients.
3. Stay Hydrated
One of the simplest ways to keep your kidneys healthy is to stay well hydrated. The recommended daily water intake is around 8 cups, but if you have kidney disease you may need even more, around 10-12 cups. For every caffeinated or alcoholic beverage, add an extra glass of water. Keeping your body hydrated helps your kidneys function optimally.
4. Take Recommended Supplements
Check with your doctor before taking any supplements as some can do more harm than good for kidney patients. Your doctor may recommend a multivitamin or supplements like vitamin D, omega-3s or probiotics. But avoid potassium supplements unless prescribed, as extra potassium can be dangerous for those with kidney disease.
5. Limit Sodium
A diet high in sodium forces your kidneys to work harder to filter out excess fluid. Avoid adding extra salt to foods, and limit processed items like chips, frozen meals, canned soups and fast foods that contain high sodium. Choose fresh foods and season with herbs and spices instead of salt for flavor.
6. Eat Kidney-Friendly Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and veggies that are particularly beneficial for kidney health include cabbage, cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, apples, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, grapes, and watermelon. They provide antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals to support your kidneys.
7. Choose Legumes
Beans, lentils, peas and soy products are great plant-based protein sources, providing nutrients like iron, zinc, potassium and magnesium. They also give you fiber to help manage waste elimination. Eat legumes several times a week to support kidney health.
8. Limit Dairy
Full-fat dairy may not be the best choice for those with kidney issues due to the high phosphorus content. But you can still get calcium from low-fat milk, yogurt and hard aged cheeses. Talk to your doctor or dietitian about how much dairy you can safely consume.
9. Eggs in Moderation
Eggs provide protein but also contain phosphorus, so enjoy them in moderation if you have kidney disease. Limit yourself to 1-2 eggs per week, prepared without added salt or fat. Egg whites or egg substitutes are lower in phosphorus.
10. Meal Prep Healthy Foods
Make kidney-friendly meals ahead of time so you always have something nutritious on hand. Cook proteins, whole grains and veggies on your day off so you have ready-to-eat options waiting. Prepping meals helps avoid grabbing less healthy convenience foods.
Incorporating more kidney-friendly foods into your diet can go a long way towards supporting your kidney health. Focus on lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole fiber-rich grains and legumes. Stay hydrated and limit sodium, dairy and eggs. And don’t hesitate to check with your doctor or dietitian for personalized nutrition advice. With some simple dietary changes, you can keep your kidneys functioning at their best.