The kidneys remove waste matter and regulate the blood pressure and salt balance. When the kidneys don't function properly, symptoms such as swelling, excess urination, shortness of breath and cardiovascular difficulties arise. If these problems are ignored, renal failure may set in leading to heart disease or even death. Along with the many treatments available to fight kidney disease, you can be proactive and follow a renal diet, eating certain foods that support healthy kidney function.
Various foods have diuretic properties, which promote healthy urination and reduce swelling that may be the result of kidney disease. Use parsley, celery watermelon, tomatoes, grapes, cucumber, dandelion greens and fennel to relieve swelling throughout the body. When there is less swelling, your blood pressure may also be lowered. Before consuming large amounts of diuretic foods, contact a health practitioner, especially if you take diuretics or medication for high blood pressure.
Pineapple is high in the natural enzyme, bromelain, which is reputed to fight inflammation. In the case of kidney disease, bromelain may help to reduce amyloid deposits in the kidneys, although there's scant evidence of this claim, says the University of Maryland Medical Center in a 2008 report on amyloidosis. Amyloid is a type of protein that develops throughout the body as one ages and leads to amyloidosis, an incurable condition. Bromelain is often taken in conjunction with turneric, a spice with anti-inflammatory properties, which boosts the action of both supplements, adds UMMC. Bromelain and turmeric can thin the blood, so don't use them if you take blood-thinning medicines unless under the supervision of a health practitioner.
Cranberries and cranberry juice have long been used in the treatment of urinary tract infections. Cranberries are high in vitamin C, anthocyanins, a potent anti-inflammatory compound, and potassium, sodium, and phosphorus. These minerals are all critical for proper kidney function and to balance the blood pressure, one of the kidney's main functions. Additionally, cranberries and cranberry juice can prevent and dissolve kidney stones, according to a study on the matter published in the British Journal of Urology in 2003. If you drink cranberry juice, use only unsweetened concentrate and dilute it with 1 part concentrate to 3 parts water to equal 1 qt. total, the study advises. Drink this amount daily throughout the day. Cranberries are considered safe for use in acute urinary tract infections but may cause unseen side effects for those with renal disease. Don't use cranberries or cranberry juice medicinally if you have active kidney disease without first consulting your health practitioner.
Blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are all foods to include on a renal diet. They all contain anthocyanins, the compound that gives the berries their reddish-purple color. Anthocyanins are high in nutrients that reduce inflammation in the tissues. All three types of berries are high in vitamin C, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and manganese. Raspberries are also high in antioxidants as well as fiber and folate. They're reputed to slow the growth of cancerous tumors. Most berries are high in essential minerals, which are required for healthy kidney function; however, they may cause problems in certain types of kidney disease where mineral consumption must be reduced. Consult your health practitioner before using berries in large quantities for medicinal purposes.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Amyloidosis
- "British Journal of Urology"; Influence of Cranberry Juice on the Urinary Risk Factors for Calcium Oxalate Kidney Stone Formation; T. McHarg, et al; October 2003
- "Concise Encyclopedia of Foods and Nutrition"; Audrey H. Ensminger; 1995
- “Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease”; Maurice Shils; 2005
- DaVita; Top 15 Healthy Foods for People With Kidney Disease; Sara Colman; August 2008