February 25, 2022
Kidney health and a healthy diet go hand in hand. Good nutrition is critical to keeping your kidneys healthy—particularly for those with or at risk of developing Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) or End-Stage Kidney Disease (ESKD).
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) encourages providers and patients to work together to “build paths to better kidney care.” Their advice for kidney patients?
- Be an active participant in your care.
- Follow your care plan.
- Build a kidney-healthy lifestyle.
Because nutrition is critical to building that kidney-healthy lifestyle, Somatus dietitians have created a brand-new book of kidney-friendly recipes that you can download for free.
Our kidneys don’t always get the kudos they deserve. These two power organs not only remove waste and toxins from our blood, but they’re responsible for controlling our water levels, keeping our blood pressure in check, and balancing our electrolytes. And, even more amazing—if one kidney isn’t functioning or is missing, the other can do all this on its own.
That’s why it’s so important to keep our kidneys healthy. In fact, that’s our primary goal at Somatus! We work with kidney disease patients across the U.S. to ensure they have the support, education, and access to care they need to delay disease progression and stay healthy at home. One of the most effective ways we do this is by teaching our members the cornerstones of kidney nutrition. When we eat right for our kidneys, they function their very best!
It’s Easy to Please Your Kidneys
Here’s some good news. Eating right for kidney health is actually pretty easy. It’s a simple matter of understanding what your kidneys need and what they don’t need. And it all comes down to the “Simple Seven.”
The “Simple Seven”
- Watch your salt. Kidneys are one of the body’s best defenses for controlling blood pressure—and high blood pressure is one of the leading causes of kidney disease. Sodium is blood pressure’s kryptonite. Keep your salt intake low by buying fresh foods and cooking your meals from scratch. Avoid processed food and fast food which are sodium landmines. Continue to get your flavor fix by replacing salt with herbs and spices (like chilis, cumin, pepper, cilantro, garlic, etc.).
- Know your ideal calorie goal. Talk with your dietitian or doctor about the daily calorie goal for your personal health situation. It will depend on your current weight, height, activity level, age, and other personal factors. So, don’t assume the one-size-fits-all calorie goal you find on the web is the right goal for you. Get your personal number and stick to it.
- Eat fresh fruits and veggies. Not only can fresh produce help limit your sodium intake (see #1), but they’re also full of the important vitamins and nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. But take note—kidney disease can result in high blood potassium levels, so certain fruits and veggies high in potassium may need to be limited, like bananas, potatoes, oranges, and avocados.
- Watch out for phosphorus. Too much phosphorous can damage your blood vessels. And, if your kidneys aren’t working quite up to snuff, they can’t get rid of that extra phosphorus. Your best bet is to limit or avoid high-phosphorus foods like beans, lentils, sodas, and processed foods. Here’s a tip: Check nutrition labels for any ingredients that have “phos” in their name and keep them out of your cupboards!
- Personalize your protein intake. Everyone’s protein needs are specific to their individual health situation. Eating too much protein can cause waste to build up in your blood. Kidneys are in charge of waste removal, so if they’re not functioning up to speed and we overdo it on protein, our kidneys simply can’t keep up. Find out from your doctor or dietitian what your personal protein goal should be and pick lean meats, nuts, leafy greens, and other healthy sources of protein to reach it.
- Choose healthy fats. Saturated fats and trans-fatty acids can clog blood vessels and raise blood cholesterol levels. Choose polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats such as canola oil and olive oil when cooking, and consider steaming, poaching, or boiling foods instead of frying. Also, picking lower-fat dairy items can help keep those healthy fats in check.
- Know your water intake goal. Like calories, everybody’s water intake needs are different—based on their individual health status, activity level, diet, etc. Because kidneys are responsible for controlling our body’s water balance, sluggish kidneys could result in fluid retention (evidenced by swelling, shortness of breath, and rapid weight gain). Ask your doctor or dietitian what your water goal should be so you can stay appropriately hydrated.
Easy Does It
These tips sound easy and fairly general, don’t they? Almost like they could apply to any healthy-eating plan. That’s the point! Eating right for your kidneys is, essentially, eating right for life. Making these adjustments to your nutrition can set you up for overall good health. And, believe us, your kidneys will thank you.
Complete the form on this page to download your copy of Somatus’ kidney-friendly recipe book today!