We’ve discussed what goes into a successful kidney disease diet ad nauseum here at Healthy Kidney Inc. and part of the reason for that is the great value we place in just how crucial improving one’s diet is to supporting normal kidney function, preserving whatever function is left and potentially extending and improving quality of life.
If we sound like a broken record, it’s only because we care and want to imprint upon YOU, the reader, how critical the right kidney disease diet is. If you take supplements, vitamins, prescription meds and all the rest but ignore your diet, you may as well be throwing all those other treatments in the garbage. What we eat helps to direct the proper nutrients to the vital organs, minimize toxin loads and helps facilitate better absorption of the vitamins and minerals the body depends on.
In the interest of making it as simple to reference as possible, we’ve decided to compile some of the most integral mainstays of what should comprise the healthiest kidney disease diet.
It’s so critical to balance your hydration when you have CKD. This means, depending on which stage you’re in, drinking around 64 ounces or 8 glasses of water daily (stages 1-2), or potentially limiting fluid intake (stages 3-5; dialysis) if you suffer from fluid retention, depending on what your nephrologist recommends. In either case, it’s important to keep track of how many fluids go into your body throughout the day so that you are adequately hydrated.
- Green Tea
Certain studies have revealed that the compounds in green tea can provide a kidney protective effect, helping it shield itself against the harmful kidney-targeting side effects of certain prescriptions. When it comes to those living with CKD, however, studies have also shown polyphenols protect against the progression of chronic kidney disease by activating the Jagged1/Notch1-STAT3 pathway.
- Kefir & Kombucha
Fermented beverages with probiotics in them like Kefir and Kombucha are very helpful for people with chronic kidney disease because those probiotics help to eliminate some of the stray excess toxins that the kidneys can’t filter.
The most recent studies regarding coffee and kidney function point to not only a slight protective benefit in those who may be at risk of developing CKD, but also an preventative effect on end-stage renal disease. Still, it’s important to bear in mind these benefits are from coffee consumed in moderation. One to two cups a day, depending on what your doctor says can be a great benefit. More than that could be too much of a good thing.
Fruits are a wonderful way to start each morning. Not only do they supply you with the natural sugars that help give your energy a boost, and prevent constipation, but they also contain numerous compounds (depending on the fruit) which may very well help your kidneys protect themselves against further deterioration and loss of function. Fruits are so crucial, in fact, that one study suggests not eating enough may actually hasten the progression of the disease. Among the best fruits we recommend are:
- Egg Whites
Specifically if you are still able to eat a low to very low protein diet, you can still prepare many breakfast staples like omelets, scrambled eggs, breakfast sandwiches by utilizing only the egg whites to keep your protein levels balanced.
Plain oatmeal with less than a tablespoon of maple syrup and/or some berries is a filling and nutritious choice, especially for vegetarians.
Adding this plant protein to salads that typically call for meat can be a wonderful way to turn a bunch of leafy greens into a fulfilling lunch. You can also do a tofu stir fry with onions, bell peppers and assorted kidney-friendly spices and seasonings. This can double as a dinner option, too.
Salads are your best friend when you have CKD. Provided, of course, that they are comprised of kidney-friendly vegetables. For example, a mango lentil salad, an Asian-inspired noodle salad, asparagus and sprouts. There are a number of kidney-friendly vegetables to mix and match with. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Alfalfa seeds, sprouted raw
- Bean sprouts
- Green Beans
- Lettuce, all kinds
- Mushrooms, shiitake
- Green Peas
- Water Chestnut
- White Turnips
- Wraps & Sandwiches
Opting for white bread is actually preferable for those with CKD. Have a veggie wrap with pita bread, hummus and all your favorite vegetables.
- Stir Fry
Reference the above list and make a tasty stir fry featuring your most preferred vegetables. Serve over a basmati rice.
- Pasta & Broccoli
Pasta is a permissible starch and broccoli is a significantly beneficial vegetable. They pair wonderfully together, just go easy on the sauce.
- Roasted Vegetables
Roasted is merely one option of several in terms of preparation, you can eat them in a variety of different ways, raw, grilled, steamed, in a smoothie, in a soup, baked, etc. Try to incorporate a varied selection to avoid getting bored, but always make sure that you’re using kidney-friendly seasonings, sauces, dips, etc.
- Fruit For a Kidney Disease Diet(Fruit Salad, Fruit Pies)
It goes without saying that sweets should be consumed sparingly, however, if you’re going to be having dessert opt for fresh fruit. If you’re feeling a little wild, and cake is involved, opt for pie instead whenever possible.
Another fruit-related dish, yes, but one which is kidney-friendly and can be spiced up with a little cinnamon and maple syrup.
A refreshing alternative to ice creams, a nice sherbet or even a fruit smoothie incorporating sherbet can be a much friendlier option for kidneys.Not to be eaten often.
- Rice Krispie Treats
These are actually a low potassium option which are widely enjoyed and which can be a great alternative to a pastry or heavier dessert item. Not to be eaten often.
We do hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into what makes a really healthy kidney diet plan. There are so many options out there, and with the right guidance, it’s entirely possible to enjoy a diet that’s not only nourishing for kidneys but also tasty and fulfilling. If you’d like even more information about the wide variety of kidney-safe foods you can prepare to support more normal kidney function, check out our Renal Diet Guide. And for even more information, check out our YouTube channel, updated regularly.