When it comes to kidney problems, diet can play a key role in managing your health. There are many different types and causes of kidney problems, so it's important to be followed by a physician and dietitian. However, there are four basic types of food to avoid that will help protect your health.
Sodium, typically referred to as "salt," eaten in high amounts can increase blood pressure and in turn cause damage to the kidneys. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend on average 1,500 milligrams sodium daily with a maximum of 2,300 milligrams sodium daily to maintain healthy blood pressure. Some examples of high-sodium foods are packaged and restaurant foods, yeast breads, mixed meat and pasta dishes, cheese, soups and poultry.
Restricting protein in your diet may be beneficial if your kidney disease has not progressed to dialysis. Beef, poultry, pork, fish and eggs are all high in protein and are broken down into waste products in your body. Kidneys act as the waste filtration system in your body, so limiting high-protein foods will reduce the amount of waste products that build up. However, a high-protein diet is usually recommended once dialysis is started.
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It can also be difficult for your kidneys to get rid of excess potassium, which is harmful to your heart. It's important to follow doctor's recommendations for potassium intake, as having too little potassium can also be harmful. Foods high in potassium are bananas, avocados, tomatoes, potatoes, dark green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, oranges, mangoes, melons, nuts, lentils, beans and seeds.
Phosphorus is an essential mineral found naturally in food and a main ingredient found in preservatives. When your kidneys cannot successfully get rid of excess phosphorus, it can build up in the blood and lead to bone and heart disease. High-phosphorus foods are processed and restaurant foods, dark-colored sodas and other bottled or canned drinks. Naturally high-phosphorus foods with no phosphorus additives are dairy products, cheese, beans, nuts and seeds.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Sodium in Your Diet: Using the Nutrition Fact Labels to Reduce Your Intake
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010
- Pocket Guide to Nutritional Assessment of the Patient with Chronic Kidney Disease; L. McCann.
Elaine Davis is a professional writer specializing in health and fitness topics. A registered dietitian, her writing has appeared in the "Journal of the American Dietetic Association." Davis received her Bachelor of Science in nutrition from the University of Texas at Austin and her Master of Science in nutrition at Texas Woman's University at Houston.