Kidney Patients Must Avoid These FoodsDec 20, 2022
The kidneys in your body are responsible for removing wastes from the system in the form of urine, filtering the blood, balancing the amount of minerals in the metabolism, producing hormones and maintaining the fluid balance. Any kidney disease will affect all these functions and this can have a domino effect on the body as a whole resulting in among other things, the build-up of excess fluid in the body and waste accumulation. The most common risk factors for kidney ailments are diabetes, alcoholism, hepatitis C, HIV, heart diseases and high blood pressure. However, controlling your diet (avoiding certain foods and limiting the intake of others) can help in decreasing waste accumulation and preventing further kidney damage.
It must be noted that dietary restrictions vary according to the severity of the condition and the stage of kidney disease. When the kidneys cannot effectively remove potassium, phosphorus and sodium from the system, controlling the intake of these and other minerals by dietary restriction will help the body to control their levels.
Foods to Avoid
- Animal products such as red meat, poultry, eggs, and fish are all protein-rich. Protein is essential for the building of muscles and repairing tissues. But the process leaves behind waste that needs to be removed from the body. Avoiding these foods and increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables along with low-sodium bread, rice and pasta will give the body the protein it needs without straining the kidneys by leaving behind the minimum amount of waste to be removed.
- Most people enjoy salt in their food. Excess salt intake results in water accumulation in the body and this in turn affects blood pressure and increases the risk of lung and cardiac diseases. The more salt in the diet, the harder the kidneys have to work to flush out the excess fluid. Avoiding high-sodium processed and packaged foods and restricting the amount of salt in the diet will reduce the load on the kidneys. Herbs and spices can often be used to replace salt and add flavour to food.
- Fruits and vegetables are part of a healthy diet but some of them are very rich in potassium. Among the fruits that have a high potassium content are melons, bananas, prunes, oranges and tomatoes both when eaten or consumed in the form of juices. Lentils, nuts, beans, bran, avocados and dairy products also have a high level of potassium. Apples, grapes, strawberries, cauliflower, white bread and white rice are among the foods with a lower level of potassium. Many do not realize that dark-coloured aerated drinks also have very high potassium levels.
- Phosphorus helps in strengthening bones and teeth but for those with kidney conditions, its intake must be carefully controlled. Among the foods to avoid are dairy products, processed and heavily seasoned foods, whole grain bread, bran cereals and oatmeal, sunflower seeds, nuts, and foods where the baking powder is used in preparation. Aerated drinks often have excessive amounts of phosphorus. Among foods that have low phosphorus levels are rice cereals, unsalted popcorn, sourdough, French and Italian bread and corn.
- Calcium is an important component of keeping teeth and bones healthy. However, removing excess calcium deposits from the body creates a big strain on the kidneys. We are all told that drinking milk is good for us, but milk has a high level of calcium. Most foods with a high phosphorus level also usually have a high calcium content. Avoiding these foods may be difficult, but it is important for those with kidney problems. It may be possible to compensate for the lower calcium intake by taking supplements, but this should be done only after consulting a doctor.
- The effect of alcohol on the liver is well known, but what is less known is its effect on the kidneys. If a person’s liver is damaged and unable to function correctly, in many cases the kidneys are under increased strain as they try to compensate for the reduced liver function when alcohol is consumed. Additionally, alcohol is a diuretic and this added dehydrating impact may seriously affect the functioning of the kidneys as they try to maintain the fluid balance of the body.
- Butter is a universal favourite and it goes with almost all types of foods. However, butter is made using animal fats so it contains high levels of saturated fats and calories, both of which are major causes of high blood pressure, which in turn affects the functioning of the kidneys.
- Frozen and packaged foods that are ready to eat after microwave heating are very convenient and often tasty. However, the processing of these foods usually requires the use of large volumes of sugars, fats and sodium, which, as already mentioned, must be avoided if a person has a kidney condition.
Kidney conditions and diseases should never be ignored because they can easily develop into life-threatening medical conditions. A controlled diet is one way to avoid placing undue stress on the kidneys. That does not mean that those with renal problems must forego the pleasures of good food, which is a major source of happiness and contentment for everyone.
A common sense approach to food and a planned diet developed in consultation with a kidney specialist is the right way for those with kidney problems to be able to enjoy satisfying meals without placing added strain on their already weak and damaged kidneys. If you suspect you have a kidney condition or have already been diagnosed with one, it is essential that you go to a multispecialty hospital with qualified doctors, medical equipment and treatment facilities to cure or manage the condition and get advice on the diet and lifestyle changes you may need to make in order to protect your kidneys from further deterioration.
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