Early kidney disease often produces no symptoms, so your physician may have surprised you with the news that you have reduced kidney function. But chronic kidney disease affects up to 26 million Americans, most of whom don't know they have the condition, according to the National Institutes of Health. It may not be possible to repair your kidneys, but a diet designed for your condition can help you prevent total kidney failure.
Your kidneys, small organs in your abdomen, keep your blood clean by filtering waste products out of it and eliminating them through urine, according to the National Institutes of Health. If you have a reduction in kidney function, it means your kidneys can't perform their jobs as well, and waste products remain in your bloodstream too long. Diabetes and high blood pressure both can damage your kidneys, causing chronic kidney disease.
To keep your kidneys as healthy as possible, avoid stressing them by requiring them to work too hard, according to the Medical College of Wisconsin. This means eating a diet that's low in protein, since too much protein creates excess waste in the blood as the body breaks it down. It also means drinking less fluid, since the kidneys have to process every ounce of fluid that travels through your body.
Your physician likely will recommend a target level for protein consumption based on your specific medical tests and kidney function level, according to the Ohio State University Medical Center. But in general, you'll probably be eating less protein than you're used to consuming. You should replace protein in your diet with carbohydrates, which your body can digest easily and which don't stress your kidneys as much.
You'll also need to avoid added and hidden sources of salt in your diet, according to Drexel University College of Medicine. Too much salt can cause higher blood pressure and make you want to drink more. Your physician will tell you how much salt you should have, but you should always choose low-salt options. In addition, avoid meats with added salt, such as bacon and ham, and place your salt shaker out of sight so you won't be tempted.
Kidney disease generally can't be reversed, but it can be halted if you eat carefully to avoid any more damage, according to the National Institutes of Health. Even if you're at risk for kidney disease or if you've been diagnosed with the condition, you shouldn't start a kidney health diet without first checking with your doctor.
- National Institutes of Health: Chronic Kidney Disease
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: The Kidneys and How They Work
- Medical College of Wisconsin: Diet for Renal Patient
- Ohio State University Medical Center: Controlled Protein Diet
- Drexel University College of Medicine: Diet Chronic Kidney Disease