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What Foods Are Good for Kidney Function?

author image Leigh A. Zaykoski
Leigh Zaykoski has been a writer and editor for six years. Her medical writing has appeared on dozens of websites. Zaykoski attended the University of Pittsburgh and Keystone College, studying microbiology and business administration. She is currently pursuing a medical writing certification.
What Foods Are Good for Kidney Function?
A nutritious diet is one aspect of good kidney function. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images


A balanced diet that contains plenty of nutrients is important for everyone. However, people with decreased kidney function need to pay special attention to their diets. Some foods are better for people with kidney disease than others. Making good food choices can reduce the workload on the kidneys and prevent the progression of kidney disease.


What Foods Are Good for Kidney Function?
Replace high-protein with grains and veggies. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images

Too much protein increases the strain on the kidneys because protein breakdown results in a buildup of urea in the bloodstream. Eating foods that are lower in protein can help to decrease levels of urea and improve how kidney patients feel. Replace high-protein foods like meat, eggs and milk products with lower-protein options like grains and vegetables.


What Foods Are Good for Kidney Function?
Carbohydrates should make up the bulk of a kidney patient's diet. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

Carbohydrates should make up the bulk of a kidney patient's diet. While many people follow low-carbohydrate diets to lose weight, carbohydrates provide energy the body needs to function properly. People with kidney disease or kidney damage need to keep up their energy levels with simple and complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates include whole-grain breads, brown rice and some vegetables. Good, simple carbohydrates are found in fruits. Avoid products that contain refined sugar, such as cakes, pies, cookies, candies and pastries.


What Foods Are Good for Kidney Function?
Use fresh herbs as a subsitute for sodium when cooking. Photo Credit Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images

Monitoring sodium intake is very important for people with kidney dysfunction. When the kidneys do not work function well, sodium is not excreted properly in the urine. This leads to fluid retention and swelling. Avoid foods that are high in sodium, including potato chips, bacon, luncheon meats, cheese, canned vegetables, canned soups, frozen dinners, bouillon cubes and table salt. Spices and herbs that do not contain sodium can be used to add flavor to food without increasing sodium intake.


What Foods Are Good for Kidney Function?
Lower-phosphorus foods such as zucchini help keep calcium levels even. Photo Credit Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images

Phosphorus is a mineral that is necessary for healthy teeth, bones, muscles and nerves. However, a decline in kidney function makes it difficult for the body to balance the levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood. When phosphorus levels are high, calcium levels decrease, causing the body to leech calcium from the bones. This can lead to brittle bones and bone and joint pain. Avoid high-phosphorus foods such as cheese, sardines, cola soft drinks and peanut butter. Replace them with lower-phosphorus foods such as broccoli, non-cola soft drinks, sherbet and zucchini.


What Foods Are Good for Kidney Function?
Watermelon helps keep kidney function nornal with lower levels of potassium. Photo Credit Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images

Kidneys that function normally keep the level of potassium in the body at a normal level. When the kidneys do not work properly, potassium levels can increase and cause irregular heartbeat and other serious medical conditions. Avoid bananas, broccoli, chocolate, tomatoes, cantaloupe, prunes and mushrooms, as they contain high levels of pot assium. Low-potassium alternatives include apples, watermelon, pears, cucumbers, grapes, cranberries, cherries and carrots.

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