With the advent of time, more and more people suffer from kidney diseases. Almost 10% of the world population is struggling with them. You are prohibited from eating several foods when you suffer from kidney disease. The kidneys are small and yet powerful bean-shaped organs. They filter waste products, release hormones to regulate blood pressure, and balance fluids. They also produce urine and perform other vital tasks. Hence, you need to take care of your dietary needs if you are a patient with kidney disease. You also need to enhance their functioning in the long run.
This article talks about kidney-friendly foods and a generalised diet for kidney patients. You may consult a qualified dietitian or a nutritionist at HealthifyMe for a personalised diet. Read on to know about kidney-friendly foods, diet and more.
If your kidney is not working as well as it should, your body may have waste and fluid build-up. Over time, it can cause heart, bone and other health problems. The primary objective of a kidney-friendly diet is to limit the quantities of certain minerals and fluids you eat and drink. It may assist in preventing waste and fluid accumulation and subsequent complications.
The limitations depend on your stage of kidney disease. In the early stages of kidney disease, you may have little or no limits on what you eat and drink. However, as your kidney disease gets worse, your doctor may recommend that you limit phosphorus, potassium and fluids.
Healthy Foods for Kidney
Below are categories of foods that may help you prevent and protect against kidney diseases. Please note that these foods are for people suffering from only kidney disease and do not have other medical conditions like diabetes, blood pressure, etc.
You can term gourds as the Gods of vegetables for kidney diseases. Several varieties of gourds include bottle gourd, snake gourd, ridge gourd, striped gourd, bitter gourd, and other gourds. These gourds are low in sodium and potassium content. Hence they are ideal for consumption for people with kidney disorders.
You can consume them in the form of a vegetable sabzi with rice or roti, or you can cook them with rice. You may also use them as a stuffing for parathas. However, you should remember that your veggie preparation or curries should not be very fluid while cooking for a kidney patient. It is because kidney patients have fluid restrictions. Therefore, you should cook the veggies well and not add water while cooking.
2. Bell Peppers
All capsicums, namely red, green, and yellow, are beneficial for kidney patients. They have phytochemicals and antioxidants, which help reduce inflammation in the body. The antioxidants help in repair by reducing stress. These vegetables also have low amounts of potassium, sodium and fluid; hence they lower the load on the kidneys. Decreasing the load on the kidneys helps in the repair and regeneration of nephrotic cells.
3. Carbohydrate-Rich Foods
Since you cannot include proteins in the diet, you should increase carbohydrate intake to meet the body’s energy needs. Below are some familiar carbohydrate sources that you can have in your daily diet.
- Broken wheat or Dalia
- Vermicelli or sevaiyan
You can make sweet or savoury dishes from the above-given carbohydrate sources. However, you should note that the above-given items usually come in two forms. One is in the refined carbohydrate form, and the other is in the whole or multigrain form, also known as complex form. It depends on the person’s condition whether they can tolerate a complex structure or not. Usually, the refined form suits all patients.
4. Allium Species
Onions, garlic, spring onions etc., are known as allium species. These foods act as a kidney protecting agent, as proven by research. There are various antioxidants in these species which reduce oxidative stress in the body. Also, the consumption of these vegetables increases angiotensin receptors in the body. This increase in angiotensin receptors reduces the progression of chronic kidney disease.
These species are also known as allicin. According to a study, allicin treatment relieves people from renal dysfunction.
You should leach all vegetables before cooking. Leaching means the vegetables should be boiled for 2-3 minutes in boiling water and then immediately transferred to a bowl of cold water. This process reduces the potassium content of vegetables.
5. Dairy (in restriction)
Milk and milk products are good protein sources. However, in kidney diseases, proteins should be restricted. Hence, even if you include dairy products in the diet, you should do that in minimal amounts. It will help if you take these amounts after consulting a qualified dietitian. Moderate dairy product intake may have protective effects against chronic kidney disease.
Five fruits that are allowed in kidney diseases are:
These fruits have low sodium and potassium and help relieve the kidney’s stress. Citrus fruits may be allowed depending on the level of fluid intake, which the doctor permits. People who do not have diabetes can eat the fruits mentioned above. On the other hand, people who have diabetes have to eat fruits with restrictions.
Food to Avoid in Kidney Disease
Dietary limitations in kidney disease are primarily dependent on the severity of the disease. However, the three kinds of foods that you should avoid are:
1. Phosphorus Rich Foods
It is a mineral that you can find in many foods. When your kidneys work well, it works with calcium and vitamin D and keeps your bones healthy. However, phosphorus can build up in your blood when your kidneys are not working well. Too much phosphorus in your blood can lead to weak bones that break easily. Therefore, many people with kidney disease need to limit phosphorus.
You should avoid phosphorus-rich foods like:
- Whole-grain bread
- Bran cereals and oatmeal
- Nuts and sunflower seeds
- Dark-coloured colas
You can instead have low phosphorus foods like:
- Italian, French or sourdough bread
- Corn or rice cereals and cream of wheat
- Unsalted popcorn
2. Potassium Rich Foods
Your body needs some potassium to make your muscles work, but too much potassium can be dangerous. When your kidneys are not working well, your potassium levels may increase or reduce significantly. However, having too much or too little potassium can cause muscle cramps, problems with heartbeats and muscle weakness.
If you have kidney disease, you may need to limit how much potassium you take in.
You should avoid potassium-rich foods like:
- Avocados, bananas, melons, oranges, prunes and raisins
- Artichokes, winter squash, plantains, spinach, potatoes and tomatoes
- Bran products and granola
- Beans (baked, black, pinto, etc.), brown or wild rice
You can instead have low potassium foods like:
- Apples, cranberries, grapes, pineapples and strawberries
- Cauliflower, onions, peppers, radishes, summer squash, lettuce
- Pita, tortillas and white bread
- Beef and chicken, white rice
You need water to live, but you may not need as much when you have kidney disease because damaged kidneys do not get rid of extra fluid. In addition, excess fluid in your body can be dangerous as it can cause high blood pressure, swelling and heart failure. Excess fluid can also build up around your lungs and make it hard to breathe.
You may need to reduce your fluid intake if you have renal disease and are undergoing treatment. You may also need to cut back on some foods that contain a lot of water. For example, soups or foods that melt, like ice, ice cream and gelatin, have a lot of water. Many fruits and vegetables are high in water, too.
Limit sodium to help cut down on thirst. At times, you may still feel thirsty. To help quench your thirst, you might try to:
- Chew gum
- Rinse your mouth
- Suck on a piece of ice, mints or hard candy (Remember to choose sugar-free candy if you have diabetes.)
Other Foods to Avoid
- Protein concentrates like whey protein isolates etc.
- Red meat
- Green leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuce, amaranth and kale
- You should avoid eating nuts
- Citrus fruits like orange, watermelon and lime due to their high water content
- Soda beverages
- Canned food items have very high sodium and potassium content like mayonnaise, salted butter, canned fish, etc.
- Sodium and phosphorus rich fruits and vegetables might also not be allowed. It depends on case to case, individuality.
7 Day Renal Diet
It is a generalised diet. You may take a personalised diet from a qualified dietitian or a nutritionist at HealthifyMe.
Day 1 Diet
- Breakfast (8:00-8:30 AM): 1 cup Brinjal rice + ½ cup tea (50ml)
- Mid-Meal (11:00-11:30 AM): 1 apple (100gm)
- Lunch (2:00-2:30 PM): 1 cup rice + 2 chapathi + ½ cup snake gourd dal (red gram dal leached in hot water for 2 hours) + ½ cup cabbage(leached) sabji
- Evening (4:00-4:30 PM): 1 cup puffed rice (muri) + 1/2 cup tea (50ml)
- Dinner (8:00-8:30 PM): 1 cup rice +1/2 cup cabbage(leached) sabji
Day 2 Diet
- Breakfast (8:00-8:30 AM): 1 cup capsicum rice +1/2 cup tea (50ml)
- Mid-Meal (11:00-11:30 AM): 1 pear (100gm)
- Lunch (2:00-2:30 PM): 1.5 cup rice +1/2 cup lauki dal (red gram dal leached) + 1/2 cup bhindi(leached) sabji
- Evening (4:00-4:30 PM): 1/2 cup tea (50ml) + 4 arrowroot biscuits
- Dinner (8:00-8:30 PM): 1 cup rice + 1/2 cup bhindi (leached) sabji
Day 3 Diet
- Breakfast (8:00-8:30 AM): 3 rice dosa +1/2 cup sambar (100ml) (red gram dal-leached, onion, ladies finger, bottle gourd) + 1/2 cup tea (50ml)
- Mid-Meal (11:00-11:30 AM): 1 banana
- Lunch (2:00-2:30 PM): 1 cup rice + 2 chapathi + 1/2 cup mix veg sambar (leached (red gram dal, lady finger, bottle gourd), onion) + 1/2 cup lauki sabji
- Evening (4:00-4:30 PM): 3 Cracker biscuits + 1/2 cup tea (50ml)
- Dinner (8:00-8:30 PM): 1 cup rice + 1/2 cup lauki sabji
Day 4 Ðiet
- Breakfast (8:00-8:30 AM): 4 rice Idli + 1/2 cup sambar (100ml) (red gram dal-leached, onion, ladies finger, bottle gourd) +1/2 cup tea (50ml)
- Mid-Meal (11:00-11:30 AM): Pineapple (100gm)
- Lunch (2:00-2:30 PM): 1 cup rice + 2 chapathi+1/2 cup ridge gourd sabji + 1/2 cup curd
- Evening (4:00-4:30 PM): 1/2 cup tea (50ml) + 4 biscuits
- Dinner (8:00-8:30 PM): 1 cup rice+1/2 cup ridge gourd sabji
Day 5 Diet
- Breakfast (8:00-8:30 AM): 1 cup vermicelli upma + 1/2 cup tea(50ml)
- Mid-Meal (11:00-11:30 AM): Guava (100gm)
- Lunch (2:00-2:30 PM): 1.5 cup rice + 1/2 cup ridge gourd dal (red gram dal leached)
- Evening (4:00-4:30 PM): 1 cup poha (rice flakes) + 1/2 cup tea (50ml)
- Dinner (8:00-8:30 PM): 1 cup rice + 1/2 cup capsicum(leached) sabji
Day 6 Diet
- Breakfast (8:00-8:30 AM): 2 chapati + capsicum curry-1/2 cup + 1 cup toned milk/1 cup tea (50ml)
- Mid-Meal (11:00-11:30 AM): Pineapple (100gm)
- Lunch (2:00-2:30 PM): 1 cup rice +2 chapati + 1/2 cup mix dal (green gram+ yellow dal leached)
- Evening (4:00-4:30 PM): 1 cup toned milk/tea (50ml) + 4 biscuits
- Dinner (8:00-8:30 PM): 1 cup rice + brinjal (leached) sabji
Day 7 Diet
- Breakfast (8:00-8:30 AM): 1 cup Poha (rice flakes) +1 cup toned milk/1 cup tea (50 ml)
- Mid-Meal (11:00-11:30 AM): 1 small wedge(100gm) papaya
- Lunch (2:00-2:30 PM): 1.5 cup rice + 1/2 cup mix veg sambar (leached (red gram dal), ridge gourd, snake gourd, bottle gourd) + 1/2 cup curd
- Evening (4:00-4:30 PM): 1 cup toned milk/tea (50 ml) + 4 biscuits
- Dinner (8:00-8:30 PM): 1 cup rice + 1/2 cup ivy gourd sabji
The needs of each human body are different. The same is the case with people suffering from renal diseases. Kidney diseases are progressive. If not controlled at earlier stages, it can be fatal. So, it is necessary to follow a personalised renal diet and medications. They will ensure the condition does not worsen. It will also help in the repair and healing of kidneys.
The article provides a generalised view on renal problems and renal diet. A person suffering from renal/kidney problems should go to a qualified dietitian or a nutritionist for a personalised diet. This customised diet will be according to their needs and body’s requirements. For example, only five fruits are allowed for people having kidney problems: apple, pineapple, papaya, guava, and banana. Protein amount is also restricted. High sodium and potassium foods are also not allowed.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What foods heal your kidneys?
A. Kidney is the excretory organ of your body. Restricting the amount of fluid, providing the body with good quality proteins like paneer, chhena etc. and not consuming foods rich in sodium and potassium will heal your kidneys. Foods you can include are cauliflower, cabbage, blueberries, oats, and broken wheat.
Q. How can I improve my kidney function?
A. The most common ways to improve your kidney function are:
- Control blood sugar and monitor your blood pressure
- Stay active and monitor your weight and diet
- Stay hydrated
- Stop smoking (if you are a smoker)
- Monitor OTC pill intake
Q. What drinks help repair kidneys?
A. There is a fluid restriction in kidney disorders. The amount which the doctor suggests should be the total amount of fluid consumed in a day. Water is the best drink to help repair kidneys. Sugary drinks may be allowed only for non-diabetics. Carbonated or caffeinated beverages are strictly not allowed.
Q. How can I heal my kidneys naturally?
A. The best way to do so is to cut down on foods rich in potassium and phosphorus. Instead, consume foods that have low phosphorus and potassium. In addition, restricting the amount of fluid, providing the body with good quality proteins, and staying physically active will heal your kidney naturally.
Q. Is banana good for the kidney?
A. Yes, it is good for the kidneys. It is among the five fruits allowed to people with kidney disorders. It has low amounts of potassium and fluid, which will help heal the kidneys.
Q. Can kidneys repair themselves?
A. Yes, they do. Repair and regeneration of cells is a regular function of the human body. For example, kidneys regenerate new nephrotic cells and repair them throughout life.
Q. Is coffee bad for kidneys?
A. Excess coffee consumption is harmful to the kidneys. However, a limited intake of coffee has shown beneficial effects on the kidney. However, if you have kidney disease, you should avoid drinking coffee in its fluid form if you have kidney disease because liquids are not suitable for kidney diseases.
Q. Is lemon water good for kidneys?
A. Lemon has antioxidants that might help repair damaged kidney cells. But lemon water is a fluid, and there is a restriction of fluid in kidney problems. So, it needs to be decided how much they can consume according to the patient’s condition.
Q. What are the first signs of kidney problems?
A. Foamy urine, which means protein in the urine, swelling of hands and feet are the first signs of kidney problems. These also include frequent urination, irregular heartbeat etc.
Q. What colour is urine when your kidneys are failing?
A. When your kidneys are failing, the colour of urine changes as they make it. Hence, your urine may be brown, red, or purple urine.
Q. Is drinking water at night bad for kidneys?
A. There is no better or worse time to drink water. You can drink water at any time. However, if you have kidney disease, you should consult your doctor for the right time and quantity of water you should consume.
Q. What foods prevent kidney failure?
A. You should ensure that you eat a balanced diet. Aim for less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium each day. Cauliflower, cabbage, and blueberries prevent kidney failure. Furthermore, oats, broken wheat, bell peppers, sago pearls, brinjal, onion, garlic etc., also work for the same.
Q. What drinks are bad for kidneys?
A. Carbonated drinks are bad for kidneys. Fruit juices with high sodium and potassium content also hinder their functioning.
Q. What fruit is good for kidneys?
A. Apple, pineapple, papaya, guava and banana are good for kidneys. Cranberries, strawberries and blueberries also work for the same.
Q. What vitamins help your kidneys?
A. Vitamin B complex and vitamin C help your kidneys heal in various ways. In addition, vitamins B1, B2, and B6 also work for the same.
Q. What vegetables are good for kidneys?
A. All the gourds are good for the kidneys. These include bottle gourd, snake gourd, ridge gourd, cauliflower, bell peppers, brinjal, and ladyfinger.
Q. Is Ginger good for kidneys?
A. Yes, it is suitable for kidneys. It helps to reduce inflammation in the kidneys and also prevents the complications of diabetes.
Q. Which juice is best for kidneys?
A. Apple juice is best for kidneys. However, you may have other juices: lemon or lime-based citrus juice, cranberry juice, and water.
Q. Is turmeric good for the kidney?
A. Yes, it is. It has healing properties due to the active ingredient curcumin. In addition, Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Q. Is garlic bad for the kidney?
A. No, it is kidney-friendly. It is from the allium species, and it helps repair kidneys. Allicin present in garlic treats severe kidney diseases.
Q. Are carrots good for kidneys?
A. Yes, it is a good kidney food. It is low in potassium. It may act as a potassium binder to help your body get rid of extra potassium levels.
Q. Is cinnamon good for kidneys?
A. Yes, it is as it is low in potassium. It also works as a health-promoting agent and treats urinary infections.
Q. What herbs are harmful to kidneys?
A. Coriander leaves, fenugreek leaves and drumstick leaves are bad for kidneys. Alfalfa, aloe and bayberry may also prove worse for kidney health.
Q. Is peppermint tea good for kidneys?
A. You can consume it. But taking in mind the fluid restriction and the amount of tea consumed. It promotes good kidney function, but people with kidney stones should not have it.
Q. Is cucumber good for the kidney?
A. Yes, cucumber is good for the kidney. It cleans the kidneys and bladder of debris and stones. It also regulates uric acid in the body.
Q. Is onion good for the kidney?
A. Yes, it is as it is low in potassium. Onions provide sodium-free flavour to renal-diet dishes. The combination of garlic and olive oil, along with onions, does not compromise your kidney health.